As I’m walking through Target with my little sister, the kid somehow manages to convince me to take a trip down the doll aisle. I know the type - brands that preach diversity through displays of nine different variations of white and maybe a black girl if you’re lucky enough. What I instead found as soon as I turned into the aisle were these two boxes.

The girl on the left is Shola, an Afghani girl from Kabul with war-torn eyes. Her biography on the inside flap tells us that “her country has been at war since before she was born”, and all she has left of her family is her older sister. They’re part of a circus, the one source of light in their lives, and they read the Qur’an. She wears a hijab.

The girl on the right is Nahji, a ten-year-old Indian girl from Assam, where “young girls are forced to work and get married at a very early age”. Nahji is smart, admirable, extremely studious. She teaches her fellow girls to believe in themselves. In the left side of her nose, as tradition mandates, she has a piercing. On her right hand is a henna tattoo.

As a Pakistani girl growing up in post-9/11 America, this is so important to me. The closest thing we had to these back in my day were “customizable” American Girl dolls, who were very strictly white or black. My eyes are green, my hair was black, and my skin is brown, and I couldn’t find my reflection in any of those girls. Yet I settled, just like I settled for the terrorist jokes boys would throw at me, like I settled for the butchered pronunciations of names of mine and my friends’ countries. I settled for a white doll, who at least had my eyes if nothing else, and I named her Rabeea and loved her. But I still couldn’t completely connect to her.

My little sister, who had been the one to push me down the aisle in the first place, stopped to stare with me at the girls. And then the words, “Maybe they can be my American Girls,” slipped out of her mouth. This young girl, barely represented in today’s society, finally found a doll that looks like her, that wears the weird headscarf that her grandma does and still manages to look beautiful.

I turned the dolls’ boxes around and snapped a picture of the back of Nahji’s. There are more that I didn’t see in the store; a Belarusian, an Ethiopian, a Brazilian, a Laotian, a Native American, a Mexican. And more.

These are Hearts 4 Hearts dolls, and while they haven’t yet reached all parts of the world (I think they have yet to come out with an East Asian girl), they need all the support they can get so we can have a beautiful doll for every beautiful young girl, so we can give them what our generation never had.

Please don’t let this die. If you know a young girl, get her one. I know I’m buying Shola and Nahji for my little sister’s next birthday, because she needs a doll with beautiful brown skin like hers, a doll who wears a hijab like our older sister, a doll who wears real henna, not the blue shit white girls get at the beach.

The Hearts 4 Hearts girls are so important. Don’t overlook them. Don’t underestimate them. These can be the future if we let them.

You can read more about the dolls here: http://www.playmatestoys.com/brands/hearts-for-hearts-girls

Yay! Beans needs a new doll, and I’ve been wondering where to find one that isn’t your typical toy store offering.


Talking Women in TOS with FirstTimeTrek


I first heard of Andi and her First Time Trekker project to live-tweet her spontaneous first reactions to all the episodes of Star Trek when she was interviewed on All Things Trek. When I heard she was a fair ways into watching TOS (she started with TNG), and knowing she’s a feminist, I wanted to chat with her about women in TOS and why that’s important to look at. Here’s our chat! You can follow Andi and read her amazing and often hilarious episode tweets at @FirstTimeTrek and she’s also on Tumblr at firsttimetrek.tumblr.com

Jarrah: Hey, Andi! Thanks for taking the time to do this. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your project and where you’re at currently?

Andi: Hi! So, I’m Andi and I’m a geek. I had a lot of geek fandoms before this but had always resisted getting into Star Trek. Basically, I knew I would love it too much. Plus, I have this contrary nature, so the more people would tell me to watch Star Trek the more I would resist! Because I had resisted it for almost 12 years, when I finally decided to watch it, I felt like I had to make it special. So I decided to live-tweet it because I know how fun it is to watch your friends watch something you love for the first time, and to hang on their every expression. I honestly thought I’d do it a few episodes and lose interest, but the reaction was surprisingly positive and the live-tweeting made it so fun that I just kept going!

Jarrah: It’s super fun to read, too!

Andi: Awww, thanks! And now, much to my constant surprise, people actually ask me to talk about Star Trek, which is surreal but awesome.

Jarrah: Cool. So where are you at now with your project?

Andi: I am about halfway through The Original Series. I just finished “A Piece of the Action,” which was super enjoyable. 

Jarrah: So I wanted to talk a bit about TOS. From reading your tweets and listening to a couple of interviews you’ve done, it’s clear that you’re interested in how women are portrayed in Star Trek. Did you have any expectations about how things would be for women in TOS?

Andi: Creeping dread? My followers know extremely well how feminist I am and when I went to go to TOS I got a lot of tweets from followers I trust that basically amounted to, “BRACE YOURSELF. MISOGYNY IS COMING.” So I had a good idea that it was going to be painful.

Jarrah: I know I wasn’t really as ready for the sexism when I started doing my feminist re-watch. I hadn’t noticed it when I was a kid, so what I remembered was how Trek values diversity, and I didn’t realize some parts were going to be so awful. *cough* “Mudd’s Women” *cough*

Andi: Yeah, there were a few episodes that legitimately upset me. Like, not just “Ugh, that was terrible, oh well,” but genuinely emotionally difficult.

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