Healthy Roots: Natural Dolls for Natural Girls



“Our goal with Healthy Roots is to ensure that no one feels less than because of the kink of their curl or the color of their skin.”- Yelitsa Jean-Charles (Founder)

Since 1959 Barbie has dominated the aisles and imaginations of children everywhere. Her creative intention was to expand the perception of young girls to believe that diverse careers options and fashionable looks were possible for women everywhere. In the time that has passed a collective recognition that not everyone can identify with the blonde haired, blue eyed maven or her friends. This lack of adequate representation, of not just Barbie but other doll companies as well has surfaced among those most interested in the role and influence of the toys children play with. Some of those people struck out on their own and decided to create dolls that meshed more closely to their own representation. None of those people, including the innovators at Mattel made anything quite like this.


A group of Black millennial’s came together and developed more than just a doll onto which children could project imaginary possibilities of their adulthood. Led by Yelitsa Jean-Charles,  this team of Rhode Island students came together to create a doll for girls who need representation. The target audience for their incredible product are the girls who don’t see a reflection of  themselves in the aisles of major stores in America, and beyond. They created dolls for little girls who need to see themselves and the possibilities they have access to now. The team over at Healthy Roots has created Natural Dolls for Natural Girls. These dolls are diverse in culture, personality, interests and hair. What sets these dolls a part from others is that they were created with the intention of combating racism and colorism. Jean-Charles says, “I have seen so many women in my family bleach their skin and burn their scalps in the name of beauty. They did this because they did not believe their natural features were beautiful.” These experiences culminated to a dream of seeing children interact with characters that look like them with interests in computer science, reading, and even music. These interactive dolls also vary in hair texture and are fitted to be restyled.


The nationalities of the diverse dolls range from Haiti, Brazil and even Nigeria.

Fast forward from those dark and yet familiar moments Jean-Charles shared, to a class assignment turned dream, and here we all are. The next wave of mass naturalistas are the children of the YouTube tutorial devotees and consumers that forced the commercial hair industry to pay attention to them. These new wave naturals are young girls that now, thanks to this creative team, will be able to envision new dreams for themselves and rock a perfect twist out with less fear and frustration than their foremothers. The Healthy Roots dolls have also been developed to offer practical hair advice to the girls who use them, allowing them to feel comfortable and sure of themselves.

On their journey to learning and loving their hair, girls of the African diaspora will need to be armed with the tools and knowledge of how to develop and maintain both healthy hair and a positive self-image. By contributing to the Healthy Roots Kickstarter, you are also fighting against the poison that are racism and colorism. Your donation will help girls become healthy, at the very root of their being.


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AshleyAshely Tisdale is a recent graduate of Florida A&M University. She earned my Bachelor’s degree in English, and is currently in the process of pursuing a PhD. She is a big sister, dreamer, prayer, girlfriend, and underemployed window shopping enthusiast. She thinks "Black Girls Are Fly because history has simultaneously deemed us un-credited trendsetters and undesirable. Despite these consistent inconsistencies, we celebrate ourselves." Find her:|