Childhood Diversity

Toys aRen’t Us

Sick and tired of having to search high and low for a doll that looked like her five year old mixed race daughter, London-based mother, Phy McCarthy has started a campaign for Toys R Us to diversify their toy range in the UK.

Phy has started a petition for the toy retailer to ‘stock at least 14% of their doll range with ethnic dolls by 2020’ to give a fair reflection of their ethnically diverse customers. Phy says that when they go shopping her daughter asks her,”why isn’t there a doll like me?”.

In London alone, only 50.79% of people are of a white ethnicity (according to the 2011 census) which shows that there is a huge number of BAME children that are being forgotten. Nationally, around 8 million out of the  64.1 million population belong to non-white ethnicity groups, with mixed people making up 1.2 million of them.

“For many children, dolls and action-figures are a big part of their childhood play. Toys help a child to build memories and teach emotional skills. Dolls can play a crucial role in developing a child’s aspirations – and children often emulate these through role play and then later on in the real-world. Not being able to see themselves in these dolls will have a negative impact on their self-worth and ultimately their aspirations.” – Phy McCarthy

The erasure of ethnic dolls and toys makes ethnic minorities seem invisible, like we don’t exist. Just a quick look at the doll range on Toys R Us’s online shop reveals that just 5 out of 96 of their dolls were not white, with the majority of these being Moana dolls.

This isn’t the first time that Toys R Us has been criticised for its diversity issue. Last July it was found that black baby dolls were being sold for a cheaper price than the exact same white baby doll in Canada.


In 2015 Toys R Us UK were selling the ethnic version of their wooden families for a cheaper price than the white version, suggesting that they’re worth less.

The availability of ethnic toys is not just important for non-white children to have a sense of belonging and identity, but also for white children to learn about other races and diversity.

Sheine Peart, a lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, said that “it almost creates a colonial environment and that effectively says, ‘there’s no place for me’.”

It’s 2017 and something needs to be done about this. All children deserve to have toys that they can relate to. From the beginning, equality should be taught so that we know that we’re all worth the same amount, it is not just white and ‘other’.

You can visit Phy’s petition here to sign it, she needs 1,587 more signatures to reach the Head of Buying at Toys R Us!

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