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Yelitsa Jean-Charles Creates Dolls To Represent Beauty In Diversity For Young Girls

Yelitsa Jean-Charles has been a major force in the curly hair revolution which has taken over the hair industry.

According to the Healthy Roots Doll website, 65% percent of the world’s population is said to have curly or wavy hair and now there is more of a push to show that in media representation for young children. Toys can impact how children think, act, and perceive others and themselves. For one black woman, her journey in finding self-confidence led to a new business opportunity for little girls with big curls.

Yelitsa is the founder of Healthy Root Dolls, a company that creates dolls to represent the beauty in diversity for their young girls for color. Jean-Charles says she got the idea after reimagining one of the Disney princesses for a class project while she was in school. “While I was at the Rhode Island School of Design, one of my class assignments was to redesign a fairy tale character. I reimagined Rapunzel as a young Black girl with beautiful natural hair to show that we could be princesses too,” said Jean-Charles in an email interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE

“After a few of my classmates mentioned my project looked like a doll, I discovered that many of us never had dolls that looked like us growing up. Reflecting on my own experiences growing up, I wanted to do more than paint a doll brown. I wanted to design a doll with hair girls could wash and style so they could learn to love their natural hair. I created Healthy Roots Dolls because no one should feel less than because of the kink of their curl or color of their skin.”

Zoe is the name of Jean-Charles’ first doll to be released. She hopes the doll can help other girls feel confident about their curls. In her TED Talk, she talks about the value of children and young adults seeing representation of themselves across media, hoping her dolls will leave a positive impact. “Zoe is the first and only doll with hair full of curl power that can be washed and styled with products like real hair. Healthy Roots Dolls provides an educational experience around hair play teaching kids how to care for their own hair by practicing on Zoe’s,” she explained.

“Providing children with dolls that represent the diversity of the world can help children to celebrate our differences. It also helps parent’s unpack the issues that we have in our culture about race and identity by exposing them to the people they will interact with in the world. I’m so happy that Healthy Roots Dolls is playing a role in conversations about diversity and equity.”

The Zoe doll is available for pre-order now through their website with orders expected to shipped by September.

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