I was super excited this summer when Alyssa Campanella won Miss USA. I didn’t watch the Miss USA show – although I used to when I was young because my grandmother and I always watched together – but the next day I saw Alyssa on The Today Show. Why was I so excited?
SHE WAS A REDHEAD.
If you are not a redhead, you probably don’t get it. Redheads are different. We have freckles. Patti Stanger (The Millionaire Matchmaker) hates us. The most famous redheads are Lucille Ball and Carrot Top. Bozo the Clown and Pippi Longstocking come to mind as well, and not that there’s anything wrong with them, but well, they’re funny – not necessarily considered beautiful.
NOTE: I know that you’re thinking about Nicole Kidman and yes she is beautiful, but the new lips really bug me now – don’t they you?
For me, there were always jokes about the milkman since I am the only redhead in my immediate family. And being a pudgy redhead at Highland Park High School was not much of a draw for dates to Homecoming – I went once in 4 years and my date and his husband are currently very happy together. And I still bring it up to Joe that he took a sophomore girl (a blonde) our senior year while I stayed home, but back to my story…
The other thing that made me feel different was that it was almost impossible to find a redheaded doll. Raggedy Ann was in there, but other than that the choices were few and far between. And certainly very few of the redheaded dolls were beautiful. My mother searched and searched, but to no avail. Doesn’t every little girl want to have a doll that looks like she does, but better? Of course, as I gave up playing with dolls, this issue became less important.
Fast forward to about10 years ago when I started working for Community Partners of Dallas…
Our annual Holiday Toy Drive serves 5,000+ CPS kids with toys. We rely on donors to fill wishes for individual kids and we also collect money from donors who don’t have time to shop but still want to make a child’s dream come true for the holiday. In other words, lots of us (both volunteers and staff members) are out shopping for toys in December. And that first year that my mom and I went out shopping for our wishes (my mom loves to do this with me each year – we always take my nieces too) – every bit of my redheaded doll problems came rushing back to me in a flash.
It is very difficult to find African American dolls. And since about 1,250 of our kids for the Toy Drive will be African American girls – this is a problem. At first, I thought I just must have been shopping in the wrong store, but no. This is universal – no matter the type of store, the neighborhood, etc.. I asked some of my African American friends about this and they confirmed it. Why is this the case? I don’t have an answer, but I think it hurts our little girls. To not have a doll that looks like you confirms that you are different or at least maybe not what the world thinks is beautiful.
And we all need to think that we are beautiful – whether we’re 5 or 50.
So, when you are out and about during the holiday season, we sure would appreciate your purchase of any African American dolls to donate to us. And if you have any influence with any mass-manufactured doll makers out there – I’d love to have a conversation with them about this problem.
Oh, and that thing about redheads having a temper? It’s true.