Woman pushes for representation, creates more diverse dolls

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman from Kalamazoo has made it her mission to create more diverse children’s toys, specifically dolls.

“You go to a school and you’ll see a little girl dressed like this. You go to a store and you won’t see a doll dressed like this, so I’m trying to make that happen,” said Francis Alford.

From a young age, Alford always noticed something different when it came to seeing herself in her dolls.

“Growing up I always played with dolls all the time, Barbie dolls, full-sized dolls, the little walking dolls, and none of them ever quite looked like me,” said Alford. “Even the Black dolls didn’t really look like me.”

It’s an issue she’s now decided to take into her own hands.

“I felt like I wanted to do something,” said Alford. “You can go to a store and you won’t find a doll that looks like this with braids in her hair and the beading and the furry shoes, and this is what kids are wearing now.”

Alford has taken on the project of making more diverse dolls herself. She goes to the store and buys different dolls, clothes, and hair, hoping to give kids something she never had as a child.

“Having something like this and having a little girl play with it and take her hair down and re-braid it, or do the things I always wanted to do with the dolls I played with, it would be amazing,” said Alford.

As for her very first doll, Ebony, sporting a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, she hopes her mission will also help kids of color gain self-confidence.

“Black lives do matter. They do and until people can accept the fact that Black lives matter, we just gotta keep saying it, and keep pushing it, and keep forcing it, and keep letting our children know they absolutely matter,” said Alford.

You can order one of Alford’s dolls by messaging her on her Facebook page. She says they take about a week-and-a-half to make and are $65 each.