Selma’s Dolls started when the co-founder couldn’t find soft dolls for her two year old, Selma, that represented diversity of culture, race, religion and physical and intellectual disabilities. Selma’s mom realized her dolls didn’t represent the diverse world around her. So, she hopped online to buy Selma a collection of diverse ragdolls.
But Selma’s mom had trouble finding options that reflected these differences. Many were too expensive, some were not soft and others were too mature for her two year old Selma. After diligent searching, she eventually found an adorable African-American baby doll she thought Selma would like. So, she purchased it. Her name was Rachel.
Two days later, Rachel arrived at the doorstep and Selma’s mom set Rachel on the kitchen counter. She woke Selma up, and told her she had a new ragdoll friend waiting to meet her.
“Selma, you can read Rachel stories ... Push her in a baby stroller ... Swaddle her up ... Sing her lullabies ... And play with her all day!” exclaimed her mom. Selma was very excited to meet her new friend.
When Selma made it downstairs to the kitchen table, her squeals and smiles quickly turned into a sad whimper and frown. With a somber, sulky face, she looked up and said, “Mommy, I don’t like her.”
Selma’s mom’s heart sank.
She couldn’t help but think it was because her new friend Rachel did not look like her other doll friends.
Over breakfast, Selma’s mom explained how every person – including Selma – is different. That some of our friends have brown hair or red hair, that some of us are short or tall, that some of us have lighter skin or darker skin, or have different needs. But these differences are what make our friends beautiful and special. It’s what makes our country – the United States of America – so beautiful and special.
And in that moment something magical started to happen. Selma’s mind, eyes and heart began to open. She was starting to understand.
Slowly but surely Selma began to warm up to her new friend. She began to read Rachel stories ... Push her in a baby stroller ... Swaddle her up ... Sing her lullabies ... She played with her all day.
Selma’s mom’s heart began to flutter.
At bedtime that night, something magical happened. Instead of taking her usual two ragdoll friends to bed with her, Selma paused. She laid down one of her two ragdolls and reached for Rachel instead. She looked up at her mom and said, “Mommy, I take my new friend Rachel to sleep.”
And Selma’s mom’s heart melted.
What happened on this day is what sparked the creation of Selma’s Dolls. That evening Selma’s mom had trouble finding a collection of dolls for her daughter that reflected the real diversity she saw around her – especially at a price point that wouldn’t break her piggy bank. More importantly, Selma’s mom saw the understanding and acceptance that can result from introducing a toddler to a doll that doesn’t look like them and helping them see – even at a young age – that differences are beautiful and friendships can form regardless.