Dolls as a Representation of the Self: Making a Boy Doll for My Son

Dolls as a Representation of the Self: Making a Boy Doll for My Son

I believe that every child — girl or boy — should have at least one doll with which to play growing up. As a kid, I personally had many dolls that I love, but my absolute favorite was my Baby Doll. She was my security toy (along with my Blanket) that I slept with every night up until college. Baby Doll still resides with me, albeit tucked safely away on the top shelf of a closet.

After the birth of my daughter, I bought her a special baby doll. I spent hours searching online for the perfect doll. I finally selected a plush girl baby doll in a pink shirt and hat and a white cloth diaper. As my daughter has grown, she has named the doll Baby Nora. My daughter loves play with Baby Nora, dressing and undressing her especially.

Heather with Baby Doll and Poppy with Baby Nora

In addition to providing a fun play thing, dolls help teach kids about caring for others. At the beginning of the year, I was doing baby yoga with my infant son. After watching for a bit, my daughter ran to her playroom and returned with Baby Nora. My daughter then copied the yoga moves that I did with my son with her doll. She also likes to hold and carry her doll just like I hold and carry her baby brother.

I firmly believe in gender neutral toys. I also believe that all toys are for all kids, regardless of sex and gender. My daughter has dolls and dress-up clothes. She also has trucks and a pirate ship. She has pink and purple toys. She has red, blue, and yellow toys. My husband and I provide her with all sorts of play things, never focusing on “girl” toys versus “boy” toys.


Heather and Will with the Boy Baby Doll Poppy, Heather, and Will with Dolls

Just as I feel that providing my daughter with all sorts of toys is important, I also feel that I should provide my son with the same opportunities. I therefore firmly believe that all little boys should have the chance to play with dolls. Thus, as a special present from me for his first Christmas, I bought my son his own baby doll. Because I liked the doll that turned into Baby Nora so much, I bought the “boy” version that comes with a blue shirt and hat for my son.

Under her diaper, Baby Nora resembles a female body. She has a little butt crack and some sewing that more or less could look like a vagina. Much to my disappointment but unsurprisingly, the “boy” version of the doll looks exactly like the “girl” version underneath the little cloth diaper. But boys and girls are physically different. And, because dolls also represent the self, I wanted my son to have a boy doll that accurately represented him — penis, scrotum, and all.


Boy Baby Doll in Diaper Anatomically Incorrect Boy Baby Doll

Crocheted Penis and Scrotum Anatomically Correct Boy Baby Doll

I am quite crafty and am fairly good at basic crocheting. In my quest to correct the anatomical incorrectness of the “boy” doll that I purchased for my son, I found myself in the yarn aisle of a craft store discussing with my daughter skin-colored yarn with which to crochet a penis. After carefully considering all the possible colors, I finally settled on one that pretty closely matched the plus skin of the “boy” doll. That night I set about crocheting a small penis and scrotum for the doll.

Most of my crochet projects have produced hats, scarves, or blankets. Once I crocheted a boobie beanie, but I must say that the strangest craft project that I have ever made is a crochet penis and scrotum. I started by crocheting a small ball that I filled with extra flesh-colored yarn. Without cutting the yarn, I then crocheted a tube off the top of the ball. I then finally sewed my crocheted creation between the legs of the doll that I had given my son. Voila! An anatomically correct “boy” doll complete with penis and scrotum.

Dolls are not only play things that can help teach children about caregiving and nurturing. Dolls are also a representation of the self. I firmly believe that both girls and boys should have the opportunity to play with dolls. Girls and boys should also have the opportunity to play with dolls that accurately portray the human body, which obviously differs between the sexes. I bought both my daughter and my son dolls shortly after birth. And, with a create crochet creation to correct an anatomical incorrectness, the dolls both accurately represent my two children.

How do you feel about dolls for girls and boys?

Image Credits

Dolls as a Representation of the Self: Making a Boy Doll for My Son © 2017 Heather Johnson
Heather with Baby Doll and Poppy with Baby Nora © 2012 James Johnson
Heather and Will with the Boy Baby Doll © 2015 James Johnson
Poppy, Heather, and Will with Dolls © 2015 James Johnson
Boy Baby Doll in Diaper © 2015 Heather Johnson
Anatomically Incorrect Boy Baby Doll © 2015 Heather Johnson
Crocheted Penis and Scrotum © 2015 Heather Johnson
Anatomically Correct Boy Baby Doll © 2015 Heather Johnson

Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cats. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

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