Yelitsa Jean-Charles, a 21-year-old from Queens, New York, started a campaign called Healthy Roots, a new line of dolls with hair that embodies natural, African-American hair. After years of heat damaging and trying to change her own hair, Jean-Charles now embraces and is proud of her natural tresses and hopes that her dolls will teach girls of color to do the same.
In an interview with Taryn Finley for The Huffington Post, Jean-Charles says that she realizes how dolls “can impact people [be]cause the toys we play with at a young age influence how we think, act and see ourselves whether we know it or not.”
Mattel and other toy creators have already released black barbies and other dolls, however, Jean-Charles says that her dolls go beyond just making their skin brown.
“It’s about more than just having a brown doll. It’s about the relationship that girl is building with that doll,” Jean-Charles tells The Huffington Post.
Each doll has different shades of skin, hair textures and facial features. They also come with hair care products and a book to teach young black girls how to style and take care of their natural hair which is written and designed by Jean-Charles and her team of other naturalists.
As of now, there is only one doll available to order but with every additional $5,000 dollars they make above their initial goal, Jean-Charles plans on releasing another doll for order.
Click here to learn more about Healthy Roots.