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
*runs to target- i need to get my babydoll one for her 1st bday
Miley: “Dad I have something for Tanners bug collection”
my uncle: “that’s great”
Miley: “it’s a bird”
my uncle: “no its not”
They let it go and it flew away just fine, so we’re wondering how she caught it.
she caught another bird.
update: she caught a squirrel today
She is gonna rule the world one day with this power
"And I thought Beifong was grumpy."
I’m glad they didn’t turn Toph into some kind helpful old lady living in the woods. She’s still the Avatar-butt-kicking trash-talking greatest Earthbender in the World!
Desi people say bye like 200 times and then get in their cars, roll their window down and carry on the conversation.
These are the images I made for the end of our NYCC panel last week. I know these have already made the rounds on the internet, but I thought I should share them here for posterity and for the folks who might not have seen them. Much to my surprise, even my improvised farewell/thank you speech was transcribed and shared along with the images, which was really nice. Here are those words as well, edited by me to correct what my mumbling likely made unclear for the transcriber and/or to represent what I meant to say:
"This is a really big deal for us. It’s been twelve years since we came up with this whole Avatar universe together. Avatar means so many different things to so many different people. To me, when I think of the creation of it, I just think of me and Mike sitting at my computer in this little house I rented in Burbank. And we would just share the keyboard and take turns. And just over the span of two weeks we cracked open this universe together. And twelve and half years later it’s just blossomed into something so huge. And it’s such a big part of our lives and people’s all over the world. These characters are real to us. Not in a delusional way, but in an emotional way. They really mean a lot to me and I know to Mike as well. And we just want to say thanks."
The panel and the signing were an amazing experience and a fitting sendoff for the show, even though I agree with Janet, PJ, and Dave: this show will live on, beyond the release of its final episode, for a long time. And a huge thanks to you guys for all the awesome letters and gifts. The ATLA/LOK fandom is an amazing international community of thoughtful, warmhearted humans.