Discover the Unique Girls Explore Dolls

There is no shortage of fashion and princess dolls on the shelves, as most parents these days know. Missing are the dolls that represent women of valor, accomplishment, talent, and grit. I’ve never seen a Mary Cassatt or Bessie Coleman doll next to the hot pink fashionistas. Have you?

www.girls-explore.com

www.girls-explore.com

Last week I welcomed a refreshing change when Girls Explore, a wonderful educational doll company out of New York, sent me two doll sets that provided the “more” so many parents are searching for on behalf of their daughters.

In fact, that is how this small doll company got its start, when creator Randy Allen was sitting around the holiday table with her sisters in 2002 having a discussion about the lack of meaningful, inspiring dolls for girls. Says Allen on the company website, “After several decades in corporate America, including being a computer programmer at IBM, I looked around and noticed how few women sat beside me. From personal experience we knew the difficulty girls have in finding role models and getting good information about careers, often resulting in limited ambitions. Over the next several months that conversation and others led to the concept for Girls Explore.”

Amelia Earhart and Harriet Tubman arrived in my mailbox and I was really looking forward to opening the packages. I have admired these dolls for a number of years and was excited to see what they looked like in person. I was also interested to see how my almost ten-year-old daughter would react to them.

Girls Explore Harriet Tubman doll.

Girls Explore Harriet Tubman doll.

As if on cue, I heard Amelia (yes, named for Amelia Earhart!) gasp from the kitchen, “Oh snap! She looks JUST like Harriet Tubman!” It would seem a certain someone could not wait one more minute to see what was inside the intriguing black boxes, their fronts decorated with a constellation of photographs of girls sitting in class, coloring, writing, peering through a magnifying glass and experimenting with a gyroscope.

Girls Explore has the motto “Reach for the stars” and their product lives up to it. The licensed and authorized dolls are the exact likeness of the heroine they bring to life during playtime. They are exceptionally well-made with great attention to detail. Everything about these doll sets are perfect and inspiring: the historically accurate costumes, hardbound biographies and activity booklets, and related toy for the child (Harriet Tubman came with a wearable carrying satchel, similar to what she may have used on the Underground Railroad).

I’m looking forward to watching Amelia play with these dolls in the weeks to come and observing what adventures and stories she creates. Considering the template for greatness these influential dolls carry, I think we’re both in a for a treat.

In addition to the doll sets, Girls Explore offers inspirational posters of these heroines and their biographies.

Girls Explore is offering PPBB readers a coupon code for 25% off all doll sets through Christmas, December 25th. The coupon code is PIGTAILPALS. Shop at www.girls-explore.com.

Each doll set comes with a heroine, a biography, and an accompanying child's toy.

Each doll set comes with a heroine, a biography, and an accompanying child’s toy.

 

I received two doll sets from Girls Explore to enable me to write this product review. 

 

Melissa headshot 1 fb sizeMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received a free Infant Car Seat from Brand X in exchange for writing a review on the blog.

How To Teach A Girl To Take Up Space: Kite Flying Edition

Breezy, sunny spring days beg for picnics in the park and kite flying so that is exactly what we did with my parents this weekend to celebrate my pop’s birthday. Kids were chasing after the kites’ shadows and in general just running around like you would if being chased by bees. Kids were also flying kites, making them dip and twirl in the wind. It was so entertaining to see all different kinds of families flying all colors, shapes, and sizes of kites. People of all ages were out there – my dad is 65 and the youngest kite flyer looked to be about 3 years old.

In fact, she is one of two kite flyers I want to tell you about. She was having great fun with her dad and her little kite. The wind had some good gusts at this point and she had trouble holding onto and steadying her kite. My son and I were playing catch with a baseball nearby and I could hear her dad repeatedly encouraging her to use her muscles and to not give up. What a great message for a girl to hear!

The other flyer I want to tell you about was a girl maybe 9 or 10 years old. She was with her grandmother and what looked to be a younger sister or cousin. She was enjoying watching her kite bob and weave in the wind, and had let it go out as far as her string would allow her. When that wasn’t high enough, she climbed on top of a picnic table to raise her kite even higher towards the sky. She was quite pleased with herself, stomping her feet and whooping into the wind.

At one point, her kite took a nose dive and became snared in a tree. The girl momentarily froze, unsure of what to do. I thought she might drop her string, run to find her grandmother, or call for her sister/cousin for help. Instead I watched as she kept her gaze steady while she sized up the situation, quietly working to solve her own problem. She decided a few good tugs and yanks should free her kite. She pulled once, not very hard, to test if the kite would rip. When it stayed in one piece she gave a really good yank, the kind when you fill your lungs up first and go up on your tippy toes before pulling down with all your might. The third tug had her kite free and flying again, which brought about more foot stomping and louder whooping. Never once did her eyes stray from the problem she had to solve. Never once did she search outside of herself for the answer.

I thought about what a different play experience this was for her than what is typically marketed to girls: stay close to home, clean the home, care for babies in the home, beautify the home, beautify yourself, focus on fashion, acquire things instead of experiences, play at being sexy, be rescued by a man.

But outside, in the sunshine and the wind…..

Kite flyer

No one told her to get down, that she might get hurt. Or dirty. Or unpretty.

No one told her to lower her voice, or to act like a lady.

No one told her to mind her messy hair, her loud voice and stomping feet.

No one told her girls don’t climb on top of tables, act grand with their bodies, holler into the wind.

No one told her to wait for a boy to rescue her when she encountered a problem.

And the girl was just fine as she was, rescuing herself, taking up space on this earth and in the sky.

 

MAW Profile PicMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies). 

Guess what toy makers? Girls love adventure!

Katie Nielsen is a young entrepreneur who loved adventure as a kid. Looking at the toy market today, Nielsen sees sharp gender segregation that encourages action-oriented play for boys and fashion-oriented play for girls. Frustrated by this stereotyping, she’s founded Ember World, a toy company to create a brand new category of empowering toys for girls: adventure dolls.

I’ve gotten to know Katie over the past couple weeks, and I love her understanding of girl culture and the need for messages and products just like Ember World. I cannot wait to buy her entire line for my own adventurous daughter. (I think my son would like them, too!) I really love this quote from Katie, “I want to offer girls a doll that lets them play as their most confident and imaginative selves! So many young girls are enthralled with adventure, and love to imagine themselves as the heroes of their own stories. Now these girls can play with a doll that will encourage that adventurous spirit.”

I invited Katie to share her story with the PPBB Community. Enjoy it, and support her Ember World Indiegogo campaign so that we can continue to make meaningful change for our girls!

 

A guest post by Katie Nielsen, creator of Ember World.

Guess what toy makers? Girls love adventure!

The memories from my own childhood and the imaginations I see in young girls today are chock full of great adventures and unwavering self-confidence. Yet the play style of most girl-centered fashion dolls is all about dress-up and hairdos, while the boys get “action figures” intended for role playing that involves bravery, heroism and power. Why are young girls left out of the action when they are just as likely to see themselves as brave heroes? Why can’t girls have dolls to play out their own adventures with a female lead? The more I thought about this, the more I became convinced that I needed to do something. You know what? Forget fashion dolls – I’m making adventure dolls!

The Ember doll will come with hiking boots and a grappling hook.

The Ember doll will come with hiking boots and a grappling hook.

I designed Ember World adventure dolls to tap into a girl’s natural curiosity and wild imagination. Ember comes with hiking boots and a grappling hook, not your typical hairbrush and pink stilettos. She’s dressed to explore, push limits and make her own way.

We were careful to avoid the dangerously thin proportions of a typical fashion doll and instead we’ve made her strong and healthy looking. Her body is a tool she can use to accomplish her goals, not the center of her life.

Each of the dolls in our series will have a unique skill set they can use to overcome challenges on their adventures.  We have even created a book series to illustrate what confident, motivated girls can accomplish. We hope the girls who play with these dolls and read our stories will be able to see themselves as adventurers and dream big.

The four follow-up characters in Ember World.

The four follow-up characters in Ember World.

Adventure is beautiful. It’s about pushing boundaries and discovering new things. It’s about believing in yourself and finding your hidden courage. It’s about pressing onward. Every child should practice this a million times when they play: I want to see girls fall in love with adventure. I say it’s important to reinforce to girls that they are allowed to be curious, that it’s good to be brave, and that they also belong at the center of great adventures.

To me, this is not just a doll, it’s a whole new category of toys for girls.

 

Ember Adventure doll vs Fashion Doll

Ember Adventure doll vs Fashion Doll

My hair is worthy of a shampoo commercial and that’s just what grows on my legs. Plucking and shaving is definitely a full time job”  – Clawdeen Wolf

It seems really odd to describe a doll shaving her legs on a toy targeted to children under 10, but that’s exactly what’s on the bio of the popular Monster High® doll Clawdeen Wolf.  I can’t fathom why a major toy company thinks that young girls care about leg hair! The fashion doll markets seems to be unwilling or unable to move away from the old stereotypes about beauty. It’s 2015! It is time to provide girls with choices outside of the fashion and beauty category.

Adventure dolls are designed to be a refreshing alternative to fashion dolls – built for action. They will feature action-oriented clothing and accessories, an immersive adventure storyline, and a strong and healthy looking body. Each doll is a relatable character, and comes with a unique skill set that she uses to drive the adventure.

I hope you’ll come explore what Ember World is all about!

To help us to raise the funds needed to manufacture the first production run of Ember dolls and storybooks (and to order a doll for a young girl in your life), you can visit our crowdfunding campaign page at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/meet-ember-the-world-s-first-adventure-doll

 

Ember World creator Katie Nielsen.

Ember World creator Katie Nielsen.

Katie Nielsen is an adventurer, entrepreneur and the founder of Ember World – a toy start-up that is looking to inspire confidence in young girls through adventure play. With a background in business, marketing, and women’s studies Katie is passionate about the empowerment of young girls, and the power of entrepreneurship to help change the culture. She wants to see the toy industry invite girls into the action/adventure space, and she’s making this happen with adventure dolls.

A Thank You To Those Who Answer Their Doors When Girl Scouts Knock

Dear Neighbors,
Thank you for being so kind and warm to my little girl as she walked around in the freezing cold selling Girl Scout cookies at your door. I know a lot of girls no longer sell that way, but her dad and I feel it is important for her to get that experience. I appreciate you rewarding her efforts, even when you had already purchased cookies from a different Scout. I’m sure you could tell by her face and voice she was nervous, but what you couldn’t see under her winter coat and Brownie shirt was a little heart beating hard and fast.

It may have looked like she wasn’t putting in that much effort with her dad pulling the wagon full of cookies, her brother working as her runner, and me helping her ring doorbells and greet people. I just wanted you to know we weren’t there so she could take it easy, we were there to show her that family shows up for each other and that we will always be her people.

Amelia trying to stay warm while selling cookies.

Amelia trying to stay warm while selling cookies.

You see, my little girl has anxiety and ringing door bells and talking to strangers is terrifying for her. She has the heart of a lion and I’ve seen her demonstrate courage in remarkable ways. But everyday things like going to school or selling cookies is difficult for her. A lot of people think anxiety and courage are mutually exclusive, I assure you they are not. Yes she was scared, but courage is showing up and doing it anyway.

Thank you for being willing to pause your movie and leave the cozy spot on the couch, to get up from the dinner table, to fetch five dollars from the bottom of your purse, to wrangle your toddler and wrestle with the baby gate to answer the door when you weren’t expecting anyone. Selling Girl Scout cookies is about teaching girls to use their voices, something I am passionate about. It is about building confidence and character. I know that is a lot to ask of a cookie.

Empowering girls is a hot topic these days and I see tens of thousands of people discussing and fretting and trying to figure it out. Often times the most difficult questions have the simplest of answers. It isn’t the cookies that make a difference for these girls. They aren’t absorbing power from those Thin Mints they deal out. They are soaking up the pride and self-confidence gained from the connection made with each customer. Sometimes, empowering a girl is as simple as answering your doorbell. It is by acting like a community, showing our girls what they care about and what they have to say is important, that we build them up.

Days like yesterday are my daughter’s Everest. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for helping her climb.

Sincerely,
Melissa

 

Melissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can read her blog at: www.pigtailpalsblog.com or connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals).

A Princess Camp Worthy Of Our Girls

A few years ago I wrote about the Princess Camp that was offered in the little town I grew up in, where girls were invited to come to school for a week long summer day camp that had them sitting and making crafts in the school gym and ended the week with a celebratory tea party.

This year’s brochure had improved a bit, now no longer specifying the camp was just for girls by using the more neutral “child” in the program description. That’s a big plus because we know there are lots of Princess Boys out there. The camp is still pretty much centered around music, crafts, and story time. None of those things are bad things for the junior kindergarten to second grade children welcomed to the camp. But…..

An example of princess camps offered across the nation. Seriously.

An example of princess camps offered across the nation. Seriously,

 

But what defines “princess things” and why are we in general selling girls (and a few boys) a definition of princess that is incredibly passive and ornamental. While the camp has improved it is still absent of adventure and leadership, as most princess camps are from all of the descriptions I’ve read online. Why do the toys, most media, and apparel around princesses show them in just one light? Thank goodness for Merida, Mulan, Elsa and Anna.

What if we sold our daughters a version of “princess” that was less about ball gowns, the perfect courtsy, and grabbing princes with feminine charms and more about wise leadership, compassionate ruling, smart economics and daring acts.

I would never consider sending my child to princess camp or princess lessons (I know someone who did this this summer) as they stand now, but if my friend Anastasia were put in charge I could very easily change my mind……Take a look at her response to a “FAIRY PRINCESS BALLERINA CAMP!!” advertised in her town this summer: 

Every day on my commute to do drop-offs I drive past a big, bright pink sign that advertises “FAIRY PRINCESS BALLERINA CAMP!!” And every day I think about what *I* would offer for a princess camp.
Week 1- Geography and Cultural Studies: Come with your maps, Ladies! Because knowing the nuances in your neighboring countries’ culture and physical makeup can help you avoid a war. Or win one.

Week 2- Hand to Hand Combat: Body guards don’t always cut it.
Week 3- Dancing: From formal ballroom, to meringue , to African dance we’ll study the history and moves of dances from around the world and have fun keeping our bodies strong and healthy. 

Week 4- Economics: Your country is facing unprecedented inflation and your PM wants to raise taxes yet again. What do you do?

Week 5- Microbiology: Your country is being overrun by a plague. What’s the most effective way to isolate the strain and mass produce a vaccine?
Week 6- Dresses: The big ball is coming up and you want to be armed to the teeth *and* wear chiffon? Okay! We’ll sketch dream gowns and discuss tear-away seams.

Week 7- Fantastic Beasts and How to Make them: Have you always wanted a flying unicorn? The finer points of gene splicing and DNA. 

Week 8- Surviving Sibling Rivalry: Whether it’s vying for a favorite toy or the throne, we’ll learn the power of gentle words. And birthright. 

Week 9- Political marriages: Why or why not?

Week 10- History: “Let them eat cake!”, “We will invade Russia in Winter, what could go wrong?” This week we’ll examine the legacies of those who have come before us and hopefully learn from their strengths and avoid their mistakes.

{Anastasia Nicholson is a doula and birth coach who lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two young children.}

Queen Elizabeth I of England rallying her troops before a major battle. Her leadership is credited to earning England a major victory in 1588 against Spain.

Queen Elizabeth I of England rallying her troops before a major battle. Her leadership is credited to earning England a major victory in 1588 against Spain.

 

Boudica, ancient queen of Celts and ferocious warrior against invading Romans depicted through the ages.

Boudica, ancient queen of Celts and ferocious warrior depicted through the ages.

Queen Nzinga was an excellent military leader who waged war against slave-hunting Europeans. Her thirty year fight inspired leaders who came after her like Madame Tinubu of Nigeria; Nandi, the mother of the great Zulu warrior Chaka; Kaipkire of the Herero people of South West Africa; and the female army that followed the Dahomian King, Behanzin Bowelle.

Queen Nzinga was an excellent military leader who waged war against slave-hunting Europeans. Her thirty year fight inspired leaders who came after her like Madame Tinubu of Nigeria; Nandi, the mother of the great Zulu warrior Chaka; Kaipkire of the Herero people of South West Africa; and the female army that followed the Dahomian King, Behanzin Bowelle.

Tea parties and princesses when you are five are great, to a point. But there is a whole lot more that we can be teaching our daughters about what it means to be a woman in leadership and power. Start here:
Makers – a video collection of world changing women
Girl Scout alumnae page – discover girls today and the adventures they have while in Scouts
Famous Scientists – learn about ten women who made important contributions in their fields of science
Women in Government – find female legislators from your state and encourage your daughter to write a letter about an issue important to her
Women Thrive Worldwide – bringing voices of women living in poverty worldwide to decision makers in Washington DC
Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies is a small business owned and operated by Melissa Atkins Wardy in Wisconsin, where our shirts are printed and shipped with love.
 If you would like to order empowering apparel and gifts for girls and boys, please visit www.pigtailpals.com.
Find Melissa Atkins Wardy’s book “Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, Birth to Tween” on Amazon.
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