It’s no secret that the doll community has received a lot of flak because of a lack of diversity in the past. Betty Strachan decided to do something about it when she became a mother. The Brisbane, Australia, mom began repainting dolls to give them more diverse and natural looks. But now she's taken it a step further by creating breastfeeding dolls to help normalize motherhood.
The 28-year-old’s creations have become quite popular on social media. She even apologizes for not updating her Etsy shop, All the Little Dolls, due to a “mountain of custom orders over the next couple of weeks."
It’s no surprise that her less glamorous, realistic approach to Barbie has garnered worldwide attention.
Strachan's new take on Barbie doesn't just educate kids, it's a way to erase the stigma of breastfeeding that still plagues our society.
Strachan started by giving Barbie a makeover to reflect diverse women for her sons, ages 3 and 5, and turned her creations into a business. Her breastfeeding dolls were created to help children gain a better understanding of the importance of breastfeeding. She didn't think it would take off as much as it has recently. But it's obvious why it has received a lot of attention. So many moms, including myself, see themselves in her dolls.
"The decision to make a breastfeeding doll didn't come consciously," Strachan told the Huffington Post.
“I'm a member of a (Facebook) mothers group that's comprised of very lovely and supportive woman. I remember one day, I was drawing the new face on a Barbie doll, and she just seemed to be the embodiment of the entire group. So, I mimicked the positioning of a latched baby with an old figurine I had and called her the 'Mamas Worldwide Barbie,'” she said.
There’s no denying her amazing talents and spot on take on breastfeeding moms. Messy buns and tired eyes are things that I can totally relate to. As a breastfeeding mom, I've spent so many sleepless night nursing my babies to sleep. Oh, and let's not forget the awkward stares I got when I breastfed in public. There are still people who get offended when they see a nursing mom. Strachan's new take on Barbie doesn't just educate kids, it's a way to erase the stigma of breastfeeding that still plagues our society.
In addition creating breastfeeding dolls, Strachan also creates pregnant women and dolls to represent diverse women.
“Not every child is born with blond hair and blue eyes. Some have freckles, some have gaps in their teeth,” she writes on her Etsy page.
“When I became a mother, seeing the effect of the toys children are exposed to firsthand, I noticed that the lack of diversity could be potentially damaging psychologically. A girl with brown skin and dark eyes may look at a light-skinned doll and wonder why it's classed as beautiful and she is not,” she adds.
These custom dolls are a stark contrast to my childhood. There weren't many dolls with freckles, tattoos and various flesh tones. And when it came to baby dolls, I remember having a few bottle-fed dolls growing up. Now that I’m a mom, my daughter has a few as well. It’s only fair to include breastfeeding mommies and their breastfeeding babies too to reflect an aspect of motherhood that is important for many moms. The reality is that women come in all shapes and sizes. They come from different backgrounds and experiences as well. It's about time our children's dolls reflect us all.