Representation matters.

Being a member of the dominant or majority culture means that I see reflections of myself all the time. Walk the aisle in any toy section to see this on display. In the Target that I frequent, (that is located in an area that has higher than average Black population) I am lucky if I see one or two Black dolls. And by Black, I just mean an exact replica of a white doll, but with a slightly darker shade of skin. I have yet to find a doll in a store that matches my daughter’s gorgeous dark skin tone. It may seem like a small thing, but it isn’t. When one body type, hair color, eye color, skin color is celebrated more than others, it is what we try to become. It is what we see as the standard. Those who are other than the ideal feel like they are less than. As a child, I spent a lot of time staring in the mirror wishing that my brown eyes would turn blue so that I could be beautiful. Representation matters.
It is so important for our children (and adults too) to see themselves reflected in positive, beautiful ways. To know that they (and others who look like them) are cherished and celebrated. Most children can look at their parents and other family members for this. In a transracial family, it is even more important to surround your family with reflections of themselves. I don’t want Maya to look at me, wishing for my board-straight hair, I want her to see her gorgeous curls and brown skin reflected in our beautiful friends, in what we do (and do not) watch on TV, in her toys, books and dolls. Such a simple concept, but so very important.
These days, when Maya and I go shopping, I end up avoiding the doll aisles altogether. I steer away from the rows filled with white faces staring back at us, telling us what is beautiful and valued. As a mom to a beautiful Black girl, something as simple as walking the aisles in Target can almost bring me to tears. I watch as mothers of white daughters linger as they choose from the seemingly unending choices of dolls that reflect their race. When you are white, it isn’t something we have to think about. The books in the book store, the blockbuster children’s movies and TV shows again reinforce these ideals. I hope that as time continues on we will see more and more representation in the media for people of color. There are glimmers of hope for the future.
Etsy has been a great place for me to find great products that reflect my children and our family. Maya has been wanting a real lunch box for a while. Soapbox Theory is my newest discovery. I am obsessed with this store. Such adorable, empowering products. There are some awesome boy options too!!!

The custom family portrait was done by another amazing Etsy-er. My dear friend Beth. Check out her store HERE. For a 10% discount in Beth’s store, use the code JENNSFRIENDS.
maya lunch box

A quick iPhone photo of my beauty headed off to school this morning. I can’t believe how big she looks!

beth cupitt - holy smokes, they even have a black cowboy!!!

Hannah - Check out I got an amazing print for me and my two daughters. You can choose skin tone and hair color, lots of options. My black daughter is blind so it is an interesting situation. I want all of the black stuff for her even though she doesn’t know!

Sevi - I love this so much and already saved the etsy shop for viewing later. I remember when I was younger always having the hardest time finding a doll that represented my culture and the way I look. Slowly we are making progress, slowly.

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