A few months ago, a YouTube video detailing the work of artist Sonja Singh and her Tree Change Dolls went viral on various social media platforms. Singh strips down the made-up faces of old dolls and refashions them with more natural, fresh looks.
Artist Wendy Tsao has been inspired by Singh to launch her own doll makeover project entitled The Mighty Doll Project. Tsao performs these makeovers on Bratz dolls, which have been criticized in the past for their heavy makeup and minimal clothing. To some people, Bratz dolls demean women and perpetuate the idea that a woman’s value lies within her beauty and sexuality. In order to ensure that children are exposed to more positive images of women, Tsao removes the makeup from pre-owned Bratz dolls and repaints their faces to resemble influential and notable female figures. Thus far, Tsao has recreated and imagined Bratz dolls as female leaders of all ages, races and professions, some of whom are highlighted below.
Malala Yousafzai is an 18-year-old education activist from Pakistan. In 2009, Malala began a blog for the BBC to enlighten the rest of the world about what life was like living under the Taliban rule. Malala was tired of the mistreatment of women under the Taliban and became very outspoken about girls’ right to education. As the Taliban were destroying schools around her home, Malala was gaining international recognition for her education advocacy.
In October 2012, the Taliban shot at Malala in an attempt to silence her voice and message. The assassination attempt sparked an outpouring of support for Malala. In 2014, Malala received the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy.
J.K. Rowling is the esteemed author of the popular Harry Potter series. Prior to the release of her first novel, Rowling had given birth to her daughter, divorced her husband, and moved away to Edinburgh. During this time in her life, Rowling was suffering from depression and struggling to raise her child on welfare.
After receiving rejections from 12 publishers, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was finally published in 1997. Decades later, the Harry Potter series has gained worldwide success and over 450 million copies of the series have been sold.
Jane Goodall is considered to be the world’s leading expert on chimpanzee studies. Jane Goodall has studied wild chimpanzees for 55 years in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. Her career as a chimpanzee researcher began at the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania while Goodall was working with Louis Leakey, a Kenyan archaeologist. Leakey helped send Goodall to Cambridge University to receive her PhD in ethology and to Gombe Stream National Park to study primates. As an advocate for conservation and animal welfare issues, Goodall has founded both the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program.
Waris Dirie ran away from a nomadic Somalian family in the 60s to escape an arranged marriage. After staying with various family members and working miscellaneous jobs, Dirie was discovered by a photographer who helped her nail her first modelling job. In 1997, Dirie spoke out for the first time about the female genital mutilation she had endured as a child. She founded the Desert Flower Foundation in 2002 to continue to raise awareness about the dangers of female genital mutilation.
What other inspiring women do you think should have doll counterparts? Sound off in the comments below!
Cover image courtesy of Wendy Tsao.