Skin colour for the longest time has been an issue not just in India but across the world. Despite several campaigns, protests, mandates, and social media viral posts, not much has changed. It’s time to change how we teach at home, train our children, and create awareness not just limited to campaigns but also that lasts forever.
Entrepreneur Sunaina is working towards the same cause but with a twist that also includes teaching children. She shares with SheThePeople her mission behind her venture, why representation starts at home, and how teaching kids early about inclusivity is what can drive change.
Sunaina’s Brown Skinned Dolls Venture
“The idea of brown-skinned dolls came to me during the pandemic. I was stuck at home with a newborn child, anxiety and possibly postpartum depression. One day, while scrolling through Instagram, I stumbled upon a US-based brand that made dolls specifically for black children, and I was ecstatic! I wished I had a relatable toy like that. When I explored the market in India, I was disappointed to find that only fair dolls were available. It’s so strange since the majority of the Indian population has brown skin, which is not fair.
My maternal grandparents had a love marriage. Amama had a beautiful dark complexion, but she didn’t care about societal biases. My grandfather, on the other hand, was fair-skinned and was born and brought up in Africa. As soon as he came to India, he became the talk of the town and all the single ladies were desperate to catch his attention. So when they got married, many people were surprised.
My mother and then I have faced similar colourism biases throughout our lives. While I was pregnant with my son, one of my relatives asked me if I was worried that my child would be as dark as my grandmother. The extent of people’s obsession with skin tone left me stunned. I wanted to give my son a toy that allowed him to move beyond this colour bias. So I decided to create an Indian doll with dark skin tones. It took me a year and a half to finalise the first doll, but I wanted it to be more than just another toy in the market. I found a small 4-women unit to handcraft the dolls with organic linen cotton, coconut shell buttons, and wool.
These dolls are more than just toys; they encourage kids to explore their creativity with different background stories with different clothes, styles and background stories for every character. My son loves these dolls and often helps me in putting together different styles for my shoots and orders.
With my dolls, I want every child to find representation and embrace their skin colour, no matter what anyone says. Every skin tone is unique and beautiful. You don’t have to be fair-skinned to be accepted. My dolls are a celebration of our differences and a reminder that we are all one of a kind.”
Suggested reading: Peppa Pig Cartoon Introduces First LGBTQIA+ Family, Here’s Why It’s Significant