11 - 12 Months

Month 12: Meet Avery & Quinn: dolls for everyone, by Lovevery CEO Jessica Rolph

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Dolls are a timeless toy. Most children, at some point, go through a stage of being fascinated by dolls, which give them a chance to take care of something smaller than them, a chance to play family, and to be—for a change—the nurturer. Perhaps what’s most important about a doll, though, is that kids can see themselves in them; dolls offer an immediate human connection that few other toys can provide.

That’s the crucial part: dolls can be a mirror. So when it was time to create my own Lovevery doll, the personal nature of the toy mattered the most. My design team and I sat down to make something sweet, playful, cuddly, imaginative, and yes, reflective. The process that eventually led to Avery (in The Thinker play kit) and Quinn (in The Companion) relied on the idea that for a doll to appeal to a child, it has to mean something. 

We are quick to talk about gender with babies. From reveal parties to clothing, we like to fit our children into neat boxes: boy or girl. But what does gender mean to a baby, anyway? The truth is, not much, not yet. Children start to grapple with gender identity at a young age, but it’s the adults around them that lay the groundwork—with the words they use, the clothing they provide, and the toys they buy.

Avery and Quinn are gender-neutral dolls. Their names, combined with their lack of stereotypically male or female features, lend themselves to any gender: boy, girl, both, or neither. They’re blank canvases that allow young children to see that they have a say in forming their own identities. This doesn’t mean we intend to erase gender—quite the opposite, in fact. We want to let children know they don’t have to be bound by traditional categories.

What I sincerely hope for children who play with Avery and Quinn is that they know they’re supported and loved no matter who they are. This might seem like a lofty goal for a pair of dolls, but the reality is, dolls have always fit into a gendered frame: girls play with them and boys don’t. When we give children the chance to play with toys that intentionally fall outside the norm, we free up their play. And by representing people who don’t identify strictly as male or female, we’re offering a reminder that everyone’s identity is real and valid.

Dolls are timeless, but that doesn’t mean we can’t tinker with them. Removing labels can be a powerful act for children, and can come in the simplest form—a little toy friend who can be anyone a child wants them to be.

❌⭕

cofounder + CEO
@jessicarolph

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Posted in: 11 - 12 Months, Identity, Pretend Play, Child Development

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