Latin American Dolls... and Doll Clothes!
Dolls to Represent Mexico, Central and South America
There have long been dolls that represented Latin American nations. They are changing, though, and becoming more multidimensional. In some cases, they represent individuals in the modern world, not just traditional ones.
Sometimes these modern dolls even bring money into the nation that they represent. Here's one I'm excited about: In July of 2012, Hearts for Hearts introduced Zelia, a little girl from Brazil.
And there's far more out there if you search -- after all, that dolls can take on new looks with a change of clothing!
Did you think American Girl Josefina lived in the land that is now New Mexico? If so, someone remarkably like her lives down in Guatemala. She has been photographed in Guatemalan "trajes" using many of the accessories of Guatemalan daily life.
If you know a doll like her, you can dress her similarly -- and you'll be glad to know that these particular outfits and accessories are fair trade. Fair trade dolls from Guatemala? Yes, and clothing from Nicaruaga, too!
Whether a little girl traces her heritage to one of these South American nations herself, or is learning about her global family through her doll family, there are options. Some are on commercial sites like Amazon, some hidden away.
Representing the Dominican Republic
From the doll company Vanange -- spotlighting the heritage of little girls in the United States and beyond - here is Dominican Republican Apolonia. She stands a little taller than 18-inch dolls, but can wear some clothing designed for them.
Her story is one of migration (as she must travel away from her homeland with her marine biologist dad). Her poster celebrates girls being their own beautiful selves.
Guatemalan Josefina in Terra Experience Hammock
This is a short clip, but here's Josefina relaxing in her Guatemalan hammock. If you look at the thumbnails on the Terra Experience website, you'll see her cooking, going to market, playing music... and playing with dolls much smaller than herself.
Whenever I see that doll, she's just so... convincing: "I'm real. I'm Guatemalan. I'm having a lovely time (and wish you were here)."
Fair Trade Doll Clothing and Accessories
The items below are from Guatemala and made by Guatemalan women.
I focused primarily on outfits and accessories for eighteen-inch dolls -- there's quite a bit available for them! You'll find clothing, hats, bedding, play things, and materials for cooking and weaving.
Got a doll of a different size? You'll want to browse the Terra Experience site. You will find Guatemalan clothes in several other doll sizes.
- Clothing for Eighteen-Inch Dolls
You can buy three piece sets for your doll or buy huipils and cortes separately. Full outfits range from $25 to $30.
- Dolls in Matching Outfits
One of the captions suggests a doll for your doll. And, yes, those dolls are wearing matching outfits! You don't need to be full-scale to dress like your doll.
- More Dolls for your Doll
Here we find Josefina posing with a four-inch soft doll. Worry dolls and weaver dolls are available as well.
- Doll Loom
I can't see her face to see for sure if it's Josefina, but somebody small is weaving!
Teaching Materials to Accompany Terra Experience Products
There are materials available to teach children about the Guatemalan culture and about fair trade.
- Teaching Guides and Resource Kits
Teaching guides are free. Additional materials are available at a cost.
Hearts for Hearts: Consuelo and Zelia
Here is Hearts for Hearts Consuelo, a resident of Mexico. She is a baker's daughter who shares her wealth (and baking skills) with those who are less fortunate. Consuelo was for a long time the only Hearts for Hearts doll from the Latin American region -- but she isn't any more.
She's finally here: the much anticipated little Brazilian Hearts for Hearts girl, Zelia. She may not be in your local Target yet, but you can get her from Playmates Toys or Amazon online.
Zelia has warm red brown hair, lives on a coffee plantation, and is interested in preserving the rain forests of her native Brazil.
You (or your daughter) can also begin reading her journal online. The first entry went up on the Hearts for Hearts site July 12, 2012.
Lauryce is here, too.
Hearts for Hearts Website
Hearts for Hearts dolls are fourteen inches tall. Can you imagine them as real girls?
Many young girls can -- and they can go online to read their diaries and learn about their lives. The stories teach important values, much like the American Girl stories do. There is no charge, though, as they are published on the web. They are published little by little like a blog.
In addition to Zelia, we recently met Lauryce* who lives in the U.S. but I understand "has ties to Haiti". It will be interesting to read her story.
*at one point named Rue
Girls can also read about the triumphs of real life girls around the world on the website.
The reading is available to all, but those who have a code from a purchase can make a My Hearts page about their own hopes and wishes for their community (or for girls elsewhere).
- Meet the H4H Girls
Consuelo's journal is complete, Zelia's just beginning.
Nicaraguan Doll Dresses
These dresses come to you through the Chica Nica Doll Dress Project. You can buy dresses for your eighteen-inch doll in traditional, coastal, or confirmation style. (Fiesta dresses are currently sold out.)
The Nicaraguan women also sew doll dresses to represent styles from other nations.
- Doll Dresses by Nicaraguan Women
Dress American Girl dolls in global styles -- and support a worthy cause.
Soft Dolls from Bolivia
Here are soft dolls from Bolivian artists. The clothes go on and off, so they're playable. Dolls range from about seven inches to about thirteen inches. The smallest might make suitable "dolls for dolls". (I gather Josefina really likes playing with dolls. I suspect some of the other dolls pictured above are also fans of little cloth dollies.)
- Bolivian Dolls
Cloth dolls range from about $12 to about $30. Alpaca wool bears are available as well.
Karito Kids: Pita Travels
Here is Karito Kids Pita. She's a traveler herself! The original twenty-one inch vinyl doll represents Mexico and comes with a chapter book written at fifth grade level. You'll see several different editions wearing different outfits, but I don't think there's a lot of difference in the doll itself from edition to edition .
Then there is the much cheaper rag doll Pita, which is from the Travel Charmer series. The sixteen-inch Travel Charmer soft doll adds a story line that takes Pita down to Argentina, where she is glad to find people speaking Spanish like herself. (I don't think there is an actual book enclosed.)
There was an earlier Travel Charmer that found Pita visiting cousins in Brazil.
Postscript: Unfortunately, Karito Kids are no longer being made. However, an internet search will still yield them.
The Doll Project: Changing Lives in Panama and Costa Rica
Women in several communities are changing their lives (and those of loved ones) by making and selling dolls through SoulSong. These dolls are designed to be "guardian angels" to children.
- The Doll Project
Read about projects in Panama and Costa Rica -- and see the lovely soft dolls. Doll projects may be coming to Mexico, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic.
Soft Dolls from Peru
- Peruvian Dolls
These soft dolls are made by a Peruvian artist. They wear traditional textiles (and big smiles). They range from about $50 to $100, depending on size.
Collectible Vinyl Heritage Dolls
Adora created a set of limited edition baby dolls in frocks from around the world. Although marketed primarily to collectors, they are vinyl -- the ornate hairstyles and clothing may not stand up well to play, but the dolls themselves won't break. The dolls appear similar to another line of realistic Adora dolls that is marketed to children. The main difference appears to be clothing and hair. Dolls in this series are also about two inches taller.
Here's the Peruvian doll. You can see the doll from Chile on the side bar. You will also find Mexico, Bolivia, and Argentina represented in the collection. Unfortunately, they are getting harder to come by.
Like other dolls in the series, these blend fantasy with ultra-realism. You will babies and toddlers in outfits that look authentic, but would not normally be worn by babies and toddlers!
Adora seems to have excellent customer service. You can email your questions.
I think Mattel has been getting better, in recent years, of reflecting distinctive features and not making all the Barbies look like... well, like Barbie! There is quite a contrast between this 1999 Peruvian doll, with her broad solid facial features and the doll from 1985.
The Peruvian Barbie carries an infant.