December 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 12
Diversity Roundtable: Ishababies® Draw Smiles
Families Embrace World Flavors in “Cute” Baby Form
The Roundtable includes seven families with 24 children among them: substitute teacher Veronica Flamenco with Matthew (11), Jonathan (8), Emilio (7) and Brandon (5); financial analyst Joseph Haddock with Haydon (3) and Hattee (5 months); office assistant Charlene Jenkins with Taylor (16), Terence (13), Tabitha (11), Timothy (9), Tori (7) and Titus (5); Susan Ledford, editor of the “Homeschool Resources Directory for South Carolina,” with Victoria (12), Joe (8) and Griff (2); research scientist Kostadinka Lilova with Radina (11) and Victor (3); machine operator Geena Thomas with Tom (13), Liz (12) and Rose (6); and stay-at-home mother Mildred Tong with Alyssa (9), Ethan (7), Lexi (4) and Erik (18 months).
Ishababies® Dolls and Mini-Backpack Clips by AISHA & CO. LLC
Age: 3 and Up
Gender: Boys and Girls
MSRP: Dolls: - $20.00; Clips - $8.00
What It Is: Ishababies are soft, plush baby dolls with oversized heads, stitched facial features, cloth diapers and a simple dress or shirt. Each 11” doll has its own distinctive eye shape and color, hair texture and color, and skin tone, and is not intended to represent any specific ethnicity or racial makeup.
Boy and girl Ishababies are available in eight “flavors,” including ChocoChip, Mocha and Poppy. The mini-backpack clips are a smaller version (4.5”) of the dolls attached to a plastic clip. All are fully washable.
What the Parents Thought: “Tough and durable,” said Joseph. Charlene liked the option to purchase more clothing for them, and Susan felt they were safe for her 2-year-old.
“Cultural diversity and the individuality that we all possess,” were Veronica’s favorite qualities as well as the “bright, colorful” clothing. Mildred appreciated how the Ishababies avoid stereotyping by omitting racial and ethnic labels, “because so many people are a mix these days of many different cultures.”
What the Kids Thought: “Cute!” said many of the kids. “Rose (6) was happy,” reported Geena, who also said that her daughter pretended to be a teacher to the Ishababy “students.” The Tong children played “house” and matched up the dolls with similar features, Mildred said.
The Jenkins family liked “all the different faces” and “tried to decide where we thought they would come from,” Charlene added.
Kostadinka said her children “loved them.” Susan said toddler Griff matched each baby to a friend, neighbor or relative it resembled, adding that his personal favorite was not the one that most looked like him.
How It Influenced Worldview: “[The kids] can see that in the world exist many different looking people,” said Kostadinka, adding that by playing with Ishababies, “the kids can develop [a] more realistic view of the world.”
Susan said, “Because [Griff] saw so much of his world represented in the Ishababies, the Ishababies were immediately familiar and comforting.” Veronica’s children learned that despite “different skin tones, they pretty much saw them as babies like they themselves once were.”
How to Improve It: Geena proposed giving each doll a smile and cuter clothes. Two moms suggested that a simple plastic bag would protect each baby until purchase.
Several parents thought giving the Ishababies names would be better. “When I said ‘Mocha,’ they knew it would be some kind of dark color, which seemed kind of racist to me,” Veronica pointed out. [Editor’s Note: Ishababies® flavors intentionally relate to their respective colors, a company representative told TDmonthly, teaching people to celebrate and embrace differences in order to help bring an end to racism.]
Would You Want Another Toy Like This? “A 3-year-old is very interested in babies,” Joseph said. And Charlene reported her children are “still enjoying them very much.”
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Writer's Bio: Susan Ledford is the writer, editor and publisher of the "Homeschool Resources Directory for S.C." She has been evaluating toys and games for TDmonthly's Roundtable reviews since 2005. She also is a homeschool veteran of seven years. Read more articles by this author
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