Once in a blue moon, I have a parenting crisis that shakes my soul. It always arrives when life hits a lull and I finally have time to think—or, more accurately, my mind has time to wander into an anxious spiral. And always, without fail, that crisis centers around one nagging question: you mean to tell me that I’m responsible for showing these tiny humans how to live in the world?
Honestly, did your heart rate just pick up too?
Consider this: every move we make as parents, from the words we choose to the books we read to the toys we buy, means something. All of our small choices amount to shaping the grown, hopefully functioning adults our children will one day become. For example, how we stock our children’s spaces—what characters, cultures, and faces they see during play—will go a long way toward teaching them what is “typical” or “normal” to see in the world. Think of it that way and what once felt like a small shopping decision is anything but.
What’s more, for parents of children with special needs or families who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, introducing kids to toys that look like them can be life-changing. Something as simple as a doll can help a child feel validated and worthy when it breaks the mold and actually attempts to look like them.
To that end, we’ve combed the virtual toy aisles to bring you 15 totally lovable dolls that celebrate our differences, from the color of our skin to the texture of our hair to the difference in our abilities. Read on for some of our favorites.