Whoever said that dolls are just for girls is in for a rude awakening.
Laura Wider, a Northampton, Massachusetts mother, is breaking down gender stereotypes with a groundbreaking new doll line targeted at little boys — and it’s totally awesome.
After her son returned from preschool one day, informing her that “boys aren’t supposed to cry,” she was inspired to challenge the gender norms by creating Wonder Crew dolls to empower kids, especially boys, who are told by society that dolls are just for girls.
“I was shocked; he’d been raised in a household and community that was very pro-feelings — I’m a therapist after all!” Wider told The Huffington Post about how her son’s experience caught her off guard. “But I soon realized that, of course, these messages and pressures about what it means to be a boy or a man exist everywhere. Of course my son would be affected, too.”
After doing thorough research and conducting hundreds of interviews with everyone from children and parents to educators, psychologists and toy industry experts, she learned that boys, as well as girls, can also benefit from playing with dolls.
“I learned that doll play teaches a wealth of social and emotional skills,” she said. “Boys are interested in playing with dolls, yet for many parents and some boys there’s a stigma attached to this type of play and the word ‘doll’ itself is a barrier.”
One day, I walked into the child center at my gym and saw my toddler playing with a bucket full of pink-clothed dolls. I panicked, because “boys aren’t supposed to play with dolls.” But my 1-year-old son hadn’t learned that yet. Though he usually gravitates toward Cars, Thomas and Friends, and dump trucks over pink ponies, glittery stickers, and dolls, now at 2-and-a-half years old, he doesn’t really discriminate between men and women. Everyone shorter than five feet is a “friend,” and when his girlfriends come over, the first question he asks them is, “Wanna play choo choos?” I think to myself, of course they don’t want to play with trains. They are girls. But they always do. Scientific studies have determined that hormones actually do influence gender preferences, but if dolls were made to appeal to boys, they would be more inclined to play with them, right?
Using the information she gathered from her extensive interviews, Wider gave the Wonder Crew “crewmates,” which have a combination of “the adventure of an action figure with the emotional connection of a favorite stuffed animal,” boy-friendly personas.
And like other popular doll lines, each of the ‘mates comes with his own outfit and gear — as well as cool matching accessories for your kid. To make the whole thing even cooler, additional outfit “Adventure Packs” can be purchased.
After funding the project on Kickstarter, some of the dolls and outfits, like the Superhero Adventure Crewmate and the Builder Adventure Pack are available on the Wonder Crew website, while others, like the Dino Explorer Crewmate and Chef Adventure Pack, can be pre-ordered with a fall arrival. The dolls are also sold at various stores across the United States.
Eventually, Wider would like to expand the line to include female crewmates, and reveals that a TV show is in the works.
“Our mission is to empower all kids to see themselves as connected, creative, strong individuals with the ability to go anywhere, be anything,” she said. “And we are doing just that!”
A round of applause for this awesome mom, please!
h/t: HuffPost Parents