Meet the girl’s Dolly. A dolly who has been well loved and who is continuing to see plenty more loving playtime in our home.


Dolly is in remarkably good shape considering she is fairly old, though still quite a lovely vintage doll. She belonged to my Sister, I believe, though I don’t remember her ever playing with this particular doll. Obviously there has been some trauma inflicted on her. Her hair at one point was far longer and since has been chopped into several rough, uneven layers, creating a ‘do which is oddly similar to Tallis’ when we don’t tie it up. When my Mom first sent her to me she had several more pen marks on her plastic body and came accessorized with a few mismatched items of clothing that likely never intended for this doll. Sine then, the ill-fitting apparel has been discarded and misplaced, leaving the starkness of her plastic body and nearly white locks in vibrant contrast with her blue-green eyes and black lashes. She really has some beautiful detailing and is a far superior toy to how other new dolls I have contemplated buying. I would love to find a similar or equal doll to this one, because now there are two, soon to be three, girls desiring playtime with this one doll. Which I have come to realize leaves me in an oddly conflicted conundrum running a bit deeper than this simple plastic toy.


Growing up, I pridefully called myself a Tomboy. That term can encompass many things, in my head it meant I loved to ride my bicycle, play outside, play street hockey with the neighboring boys and build forts in the woods. I hated fussy fluffy dresses, disdained the color Pink and disliked dolls altogether. Looking back, I could have been more extreme. I never wore combat boots, never had short hair and at least knew of the appropriate times to participate in spitting and belching (ie. not around my parents). While there was nothing terribly wrong with what I did, there is now some residual gaps in what I didn’t do. 

First off, having a daughter who loves the outdoors is not at odds with femininity. I highly encourage my girls to be skilled at a broad number of things, such as building campfires, using power tools, being athletic, basic car mechanics and surviving in the wilderness- all things I appreciate having the abilities to do. Heck I will probably even teach them to huck loogies, too. I just don’t want to press my girls into the Tomboy mold because that is where my familiarity lies or do them a disservice by not adequately fostering their preferences. I am quite taken back at how girly Araiya especially has become. That obviously comes from within her as I have done nothing to encourage nor discourage her exposure to girly things (though I do draw the line at frills and lace and Disney Princesses). But what I feel I am lacking in my experiences are those girly things I so vehemently rejected in my youth, things I have come to realize I missed out on at least learning because I wasn’t exposed to as a regular part of life as a woman. Things like wearing makeup, skincare, haircare, jewelry, clothing.


Not only did I self inflict my un-femininity, it was reinforced as I simply strove to live up to the expectation of non-girlyness because I was never wisely instructed on how to do otherwise, just left to and signed off on the Tomboy-ish track as just ‘who I was’. Later, as my perceptions of what other’s thought developed, it became more self-justifying to reject those external signs of being a girl yet inside made me all the more self-conscientious that I couldn’t live up to the other expectation of being feminine because I wasn’t built like a china doll or had feminine enough clothes. I remember being made fun of for trying to put on make-up at a Birthday Party and did it ‘wrong’. I remember being made fun of for the kind of clothing I wore. I remember feeling left out and rejected because I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs or get my ears pierced. Still, to this day, I struggle with doing my hair. I just threw away every last bit of the make-up I own because it is all nearly 15 years old and I got a sty in my eye the last two times I have attempted to spruce up to go on a date with my husband. So now I am at a disadvantage on wisely and gently bringing up my girls to be well-rounded and diverse in the things they can do, especially in caring for themselves. I fear reinforcing the failure in omission that was put on me as a girl and young woman in not teaching my daughters how to do things like building forts and doing their hair and makeup. I think that simple things like encouraging them to be comfortable with their looks and shape, complimenting them when they look good, ensuring they have attractive and complementing clothing and teaching them to love the lovely will all abound in aiding their confidence in their other skills and abilities. I was insecure in the things I did because I was insecure in how I was perceived. I don’t want that for my girls, so I feel that I am at a loss when it comes to the fact I don’t know how to adequately care for myself so how can I teach that to my daughters? I want them coming to me for makeup advice because they know I have the skill and know-how, just like I would hope they would come to me to ask how to tie rock climbing knots because they know I know that too. I think I had better learn how, and quick.


This Doll and I have actually a lot in common. We have a history that has left some residual marks on us which are less than desirable, yet are still seen as lovely, though that can often be easily overlooked. We have been left inadequately equipped and are in need of some simple remedies to aid us in covering up what has been lacking. So I spent some time this morning making a new outfit for this little Dolly. One that fits better and suits the style of gal she is. I think it enhances her loveliness and delicate vintage look, though have yet to take a picture of her to show, so you will have to take my word for it. She now is adorned in tailored stripped purple and white pants with a simple, yet stylish white blouse tank top and is ready for more playtime and tea parties and make-believe. Of course, Araiya immediately requested that I make her Dolly a dress. A pink dress. 



~ by gdesign on September 18, 2008.

8 Responses to “Dollies”

  1. as girly as i like to be, i still have trouble with make-up and style sometimes, looking at other women and wishing i’d figured it all out better. my mom didn’t wear make-up much at all (my dad didn’t like it), but she taught me the basics, which is what i stick with. i try to come up with my own choices for make-up, end up hating it, and still go back to the old favorites picked out for me by the make-up lady at gotschalks! as for hair, i’m afraid i’m pretty simple that way. i change it up, but it’s always pretty simple. i think the post important thing is what you eluded to–affirming your girls, as they already are, teaching them those basic things that are “womanly”, and learn to go from there. it’s good that you are thinking about all of this. i hope you don’t become overwhelmed. of course, i’m no expert! i have yet to pop my little girl out of the womb! but i can say from experience how important affirmation is for a daughter, especially coming from her father, and my dad did a really great job with this. i’ve seen many examples where the father wasn’t so good at it, nor did he think he needed to be, and i think it causes more damage than they think.

    i want to see pics of Dolly’s new clothes. 🙂

  2. Great blog post. You really need to be careful how you clean these dolls. It is also good fun to wash the hair – again take care. Taking god care of dolls will help keep them in good condition for a long time. We have lots of other tips on cleaning dolls on our blog:

  3. hey natalie. i would be happy to go shopping with you for makeup sometime. i’ve finally found some things that are really easy, that don’t really look like makeup (other then the eyes, but that’s fun sometimes!), and that feel good on my skin. my mom was not very feminine and she did not like how she looked. i rebelled against this and tried to be very girly, often with bad results because i didn’t know what i was doing.

    when i was 12, however, we had a live-in nanny who used to be a model in new york. she taught me about makeup and skin care. she took me shopping. she gave me pearls her father had given her and did makeovers on all my friends for my 13th birthday.

    if you get a chance, check my blog…i need a little decorating advice before we order our new crib!

  4. Oh Natalie…I think the thing you do not realize is that I have always admired you for all of the skills and talents you possesse, and your ability to do anything well that you put your mind to. I could not build half as cool of a fort as you, and you are much tougher then I am in the woods. I always wanted to to be a bit more Tomboyish. You have always been a role model for me in the areas I lack in.

    You have always been fabulous just as you are, and who you were when we were growing up did not include Barbies, make up, or the so called girly things. I know you may think these things now resemble femininity, and maybe if you had done more of them growing up you would be more equipped in these areas. Well as someone who has known you since we were four, and as someone who I am assuming you preceive as more girly (especially since I used to try to force you to play Barbies and dress up with me) I am here to tell that I still do not feel that girly. When someone refers to me as girly it kind of throughs me off guard. When I wake up in the morning and put my make up on I always think it looks a little ridiculous. As if it were the first time I have put on make up before. I generally poke myself at least once in the eye with either the eye shadow brush or the mascara stick. I try to buy cute femenine color clothing, but I usually do not wear it because I pit it out in about two seconds. My sweating is definitely not very feminine. Yes I loved dolls when I was younger and dress up was usually apart of the playing agenda, but I am proud of my Tomboyish Mountain Woman side too. I have you to thank for encouraging me through your role modeling to be more tough and rugged.

    Your girls are going to be who they are no matter if you teach them to put make up on or not. Going through different stages and identity development is just a part of life. Some day your girls may write a blog about wanting to be more Tomboyish. However, if you are interested in learning how to be more “girly” give me a call and we work something out. But just remember I love you and think you are incredible just as you are.

    P.S. What happened to the Barbie doll I gave Araiya a year or so ago? If you need another one just let Auntie Jill know, and I can send one dressed in a beautiful pink ballgown ASAP.

  5. I was honored to be able to read this and know more about some things you’re thinking about. I related to some aspects of your story and shed tears for your young self at that birthday party.

    I’m wearing thrift store overalls or izod polos with suspenders in all my little kid pictures. I have one picture of me with all my male cousins sitting in a line and you can’t tell there’s a girl there! In seventh grade I secretly shaved my legs at a friend’s house after a boy in my class made fun of me. I was fiercely aware of my looks and everything I perceived to be wrong with me, and my mom was such a “feminist” that she didn’t seem to care or understand my feelings. That was really hard for me with my Araiya-like girly tendencies.

    Way to go with being willing to step out of your comfort zone for your girls. Remember that you are not alone! I used to teach makeup classes to teenage girls and their moms and would be happy to have a makeup party anytime!

    I want you to know that I have actually been very impressed with how “hip” your girls dress. It’s hard to do that with little girls because there is SO much pink frilliness. They are blessed to have you as their mommy.

    P.S. Good idea throwing out that old makeup – some of that stuff has a 3 month shelf life after being opened!

  6. If you don’t remember I cut “dolly’s” hair after I had by brain tumor. It was my way of coping with everything I was going though. I hated having to cut me hair so short and having that big bandage rip off all the under neath hairs to top it off.

    I’m confused why you think you didn’t have any guidance on how to do makeup? I remember Barbara Bradshaw would bring us up bags of makeup and different perfumes. We always played with it and you would do my makeup for school dances.

    I do understand the hair thing because i too have a lot of trouble doing my own hair. But that’s not because we weren’t shown how. Some people are just good at hair and others aren’t. I also agree about the hole ears piercing thing. I think that because it was not allowed till 8th grade it made me obsessed with piercings and I then went over board. But each parent has there own thought on how to raise their kids and mom had her views on things. Come on she didn’t get her ears pierced till she was like 40 or something.

    I don’t think you need someone to show you have to care for yourself. That is self learned. As long as you don’t smell and your clean and healthy what else matter? Your beautiful with or with out makeup or fancy cloths and a sweet hair due. Non of those define a person… it’s just a cover over the soul.

    I love you and have always looked up to you in everyday life. The girls a lucky to have you as their mom. You have all the tools in your head, some may be a bit rusty but nothing that a little spit shin can’t fix!

    I’m here if you need anything to help you along you journey
    Love you.

  7. […] quite a delayed post, it has been on the back burner for far too long. Since the popularly debated Dolly post, I have been making some good strides in the world of makeup and skin care. Having absolutely ZERO […]

  8. Natalie, Our perspectives can be amazingly differernt as we gaze at the same image! Britte always loved going to your house because she could get her hair french braided by claudia or you and count on a dazzling manicure or pedicure. You have so many amazing talents and your parents allowed you to become who you are just as you will with the girls. Gosh, if you are feeling a gap in your feminine past… poor Britte, I couldn’t even french braid and I have yet to experience a manicure! We always loved you just the way you are: full of creativity and spunk! xo

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