Growing up, I wanted to be an actress, and a journalist, and a painter, and a professional figure skater, all at once. While I may not have fulfilled all the goals set forth by my 9-year-old self, I can still remember the excitement I felt for the future, and the distinct lack of dolls that reflected my ambitions. Yes, American Girl dolls were based on girls my age (don't get me wrong, I love American Girl dolls), and yes, Barbie had a lot of careers over the years; but Barbie was an adult and American Girl Dolls had their own historically-based issues to tackle. That's why the new Willowbrook Girls line of dolls, who are a group of fifth graders with some serious ambition, are so important. And needed. And generally wonderful.
Created by Neha Chauhan Woodward, an Indian-American Harvard grad with an MBA from Stanford (so just, like, really casual credentials), the Willowbrook Girls are diverse, ambitious, opinionated, and smart. On the Kickstarter campaign page, where she hopes to raise $30,000 to cover production costs, Chauhan Woodward notes that her goal is to "introduce characters that celebrate girls for their brains, talents, and leadership."
Similar to the much-loved American Girl doll series, the "Brookies" will provide kids with accompanying books charting their adventures — and based on these girls' interests, I have a feeling there are going to be a whole lot of those adventures.
From Cara, the first doll produced in full, who is half-Latina and wants to be a CEO when grows up, to Rory, who taught herself how to code and finds a similar solace in choreographing dances for her friends, these dolls are providing more than entertainment; they're fighting against stereotypes, and providing girls the tools to shatter glass ceilings. You know, like women holding less than five percent of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies, or women comprising 14 percent of engineers in the work force. Those kinds of glass ceilings.
In addition, Chauhan Woodward has made a concerted effort to create a friend group with a diverse array of ethnicities and backgrounds: Anjali is Indian-American, Maya is Colombian, Mackenzie is African-American, and Perry is Asian-American. Fun fact: Should Chauhan Woodward's Kickstarter campaign succeed, Anjali and Perry will be the only Indian-American and Asian-American dolls with their own stories available in today's toy market.
Head on over to the Willowbrook Girls Kickstarter page to kick in a few bucks. These gals are worth it.