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"I look like her, and she looks like me."
July 31, 2014 5:22 PM   Subscribe

Disney Junior's Doc McStuffins is an animated children's show about 6-year-old Dottie McStuffins, who wants to be a doctor like her mother, and pretends to be a doctor to her toys. Doc McStuffins has done well as a TV show, but it's as a doll that Doc's success has been stratospheric, with over $500 million in sales last year. “'When little white girls embrace Doc McStuffins, for them Doc McStuffins is a girl, and Doc McStuffins is powerful,' Dr. [Margaret Beale] Spencer said. 'For a little black girl, it may be all of those things, but also that she’s black.'”
posted by ocherdraco (37 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very good, and much better than the crappy Kickstarter toys for girls I've seen, but I see we're still stuck with the girls=pink paradigm
posted by Bwithh at 5:28 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


“Right now there are more multicultural children being born under the age of 5,” said Lisa Williams, chief executive of World of EPI, the company behind Positively Perfect Dolls, a line of multicultural dolls sold at Walmart stores around the country.

Some children are born older than 5? Those multiculturals are amazing!
posted by irisclara at 5:35 PM on July 31 [34 favorites]


My nephews LOVE that show. (They are almost 5 and 3.) I'm very glad that their media world has a better reflection of their lives than my generation did.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:42 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


It's one of the better kids shows these days, too. I've been trying to get my kids to sing the "I feel better..." song from it after they visit their doctor, but so far no luck.
posted by drezdn at 5:45 PM on July 31


Ha, irisclara, I also thought that comment about "multicultural children" and how they're the majority was weird. (What is "multicultural" supposed to mean, anyway? Non-white?) As Hari Kondabolu puts it, you can only look at it that way if you consider all non-white people to be the exactly the same.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:58 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Ohmygod, we totally bought a Doc McStuffins doll for my niece because we were staggering through the pink aisles at Target, looking for anything sciencey. My husband said, "What about this?"

I said, "Thank god, yes! She's a doctor and a person of color. We're getting that."

The doll went over BIG because my niece watches the show. I had no idea it was a thing.
posted by BrashTech at 6:00 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Daughter (2) adores the Doc, and aspires to become a stuffed animal doctor when she grow up. The stethoscope accompanies her to bed.

The two black people she sees most often on television are, respectively, a doctor and a president.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:02 PM on July 31 [61 favorites]


There is no quiet. There is only Doc McStuffins..

Seriously, though, our 3 year old son loves it. I think part of its crossover success is that it's a show with a girl lead without being a 'girly' show (see Angelina Ballerina, Sofia the First, etc).
posted by Jugwine at 6:05 PM on July 31 [7 favorites]


My white, blond, blue-eyed niece loves Doc McStuffins. She kept mentioning Doc McStuffins to me in excited tones and I couldn't figure out what it could be -- somehow it never came together in my mind as something that could be a person's name -- and when I finally saw the doll, I was delighted. As BrashTech says, she's a person of color and she's a doctor! Like, she's a doctor. And kids just grow up now and that's a thing, as it should be.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:06 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


I'm also partial to the fact that her dad is a stay-at-home dad.
posted by drezdn at 6:07 PM on July 31 [5 favorites]


Parent to parents warning though: Doc McStuffins has some vicious, pernicious, day-ruining earworms for songs. I hear that shit in my head dozens of times a day and my son quit watching like three months ago.

Sorry for that outburst. I feel better. So much better... Thank you Doc, for taking all the ouchies away!

GODDAMMIT.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:12 PM on July 31 [11 favorites]


Very cool, and about time. Now we need one for black boys, because when it comes to being under represented just about everywhere, they're right there with the girls.
posted by doctor_negative at 6:13 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Now we need one for black boys, because when it comes to being under represented just about everywhere, they're right there with the girls.

Sid, The Science Kid is biracial, with a black mom. His dad is white, maybe Jewish. It's hard to tell because he's kind of goldenrod, actually.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:15 PM on July 31 [7 favorites]


At work, we have a log of solutions to uncommon issues that are important to know about when they do happen. We call it the "Big Book of Boo-Boos"
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:16 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


True story: my son is still at that "doesn't get race" stage. He came home from pre-kindergarten one day and told me had a new crush, Aisha. "She's funny and smart and likes the same toys. She's cute, too. She's tanner than me... like, A LOT TANNER."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:19 PM on July 31 [36 favorites]


What about Addy dolls? I remember those were popular with my sister and her friends.
posted by michaelh at 6:19 PM on July 31


DirtyOldTown, that is adorable.

I don't know any kids the right age for this doll at the moment, but it makes me happy that it's out there.
posted by emjaybee at 6:22 PM on July 31


Ha! Just getting younger daughter to bed and I wondered what was in her hand, and it was her small Doc McStuffins doll, which she has been taking with her everywhere. She asked Santa for Doc McStuffins for Christmas and he delivered, but it's a larger, talking doll and not really cuddly, so it actually hasn't been played with as much as the doctor accessories, which is fine with me. I was checked out the stethoscope earlier tonight, apparently it was "time for my check-up."

Doc: I'm gonna check your ears, check your eyes, find out how much you've grown...
Toys: Time for a checkup!
Doc: Then I listen to your heart beat, fix you up, ready to go...
Toys: Time for a checkup!
Doc: It's okay if you giggle. This will only tickle a little...
Everyone: Time for a checkup, time for a checkup.

I may have heard that a time or twelve...
posted by dawg-proud at 6:28 PM on July 31


Some children are born older than 5? Those multiculturals are amazing!

You ain't seen nothin' ...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:36 PM on July 31


In the last year or so, two things I've seen here on MetaFilter have seriously changed my mind about how important having dolls of all colors is.

First, there was the Collectors Weekly article "Black Is Beautiful: Why Black Dolls Matter." This was linked by lalex in her post "somebody took the time to make a doll in your likeness" last year.

Then, just last week, flabdablet linked the video "Which doll is the bad doll?" in the pre-school-to-prison pipeline thread. This video is absolutely heartbreaking.

I've now realized that having good quality, readily available, affordable toys that look like the children that will play with them is far, far more important than it appears at first glance. It really makes me wish I had put my foot down about making sure my brother's ex-girlfriend's little girl, who looks just as Latino as her father was, had a doll with brown skin, dark eyes, and straight black hair just like she does.

She did love her some Doc McStuffins. She was so cute with the little thermometer and stuff. I miss those kids sometimes.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:37 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


Oh, sorry DirtyOldTown, in retrospect adding that last bit was a thoughtless cruelty and I apologize.
posted by dawg-proud at 6:39 PM on July 31


True story: my son is still at that "doesn't get race" stage. He came home from pre-kindergarten one day and told me had a new crush, Aisha. "She's funny and smart and likes the same toys. She's cute, too. She's tanner than me... like, A LOT TANNER."

My daughter is the only white kid at her school. Everyone else is Mexican-American. We never really mentioned it, and I wondered when she would notice. Nothing came up through her first semester in kindergarten, but over Christmas break she was coloring something and I noticed her looking thoughtfully at her crayons. "Hey, Dad," she said slowly, "my skin is apricot colored but all of my friends are kind of apricotty-brown." A couple of years later we had a more in depth talk about why most of her friends' families speak Spanish more than English but it's basically been a non-issue so far.

The two black people she sees most often on television are, respectively, a doctor and a president.

I grew up in a town that was probably over 90% white, and most of the role models I saw were white. My kids are growing up in a town that is less that 2% white, in a time when the president is black and the only scientist they know of is Neil deGrasse Tyson. They are going to have a completely different implicit model of race in American society that I grew up with. Doc McStuffins helps with that, too. And even though Sofia the First--my kids' favorite Disney show--is more white than it needs to be, it's still nice to see that Sofia's best friends are Asian and black. (And I read that Sofia was intended to be hispanic, although you certainly get no overt hints of that in the show.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:44 PM on July 31 [6 favorites]


True story: my son is still at that "doesn't get race" stage. He came home from pre-kindergarten one day and told me had a new crush, Aisha. "She's funny and smart and likes the same toys. She's cute, too. She's tanner than me... like, A LOT TANNER."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:19 PM on July 31 [2 favorites +] [!]


I'm Indian American, and grew up in a really white town in Virginia (that is much more diverse now but this was the 80s). My mother recently told me this story- when my brother was five, he had a good friend named let's say Josh. He was white, but all our friends were white pretty much. My brother and Josh were inseparable. They wouldn't do anything without each other. They even both went to computer camp because Josh wanted to.

Then my brother wasn't invited to Josh's birthday. He asked why, and Josh said "My mom said she doesn't like all the dirt on your knees, you know all that brown you have on your face and legs. If you wash the dirt off, you can come to my party." So my brother told my mom this story, and she explained that some white people don't like us because of the color of our skin, etc.

I'm older than my brother and don't remember this at all. I remember more "subtle" "are you dot or feather?" or "what country are you from?" stuff but I had never heard this story.

My mom told me it in a Starbucks in Times Square and pointed to a little Indian kid with his mom and said, "he was about that age." The kid was tiny. I was filled with rage about something that happened to my brother 25 years ago.

That's kind of why I hate "don't see race" as a concept or some idealized state - some kids get a shock of reality fast. You know, the brown kids.
posted by sweetkid at 6:49 PM on July 31 [27 favorites]


I've now realized that having good quality, readily available, affordable toys that look like the children that will play with them is far, far more important than it appears at first glance.

My little girl, in a very large extended family, expressed that she wanted to be a Doctor when she was 2. She got a very nice Doctor kit by Circa, a Melissa and Doug Doctor lab coat with all the tools, and a cheesy, chintzy, sparkly Disney-branded Doc McSuffins Doctor kit, in every way less awesome than the other two.

Guess which toys get played with most? Leaving cheaply applied glitter everywhere? Gwan. Guess.

This was the same year she wanted a Batman costume for her stuffed bunny. Wrote a letter to Santa in preschool and everything. Her mother and I tried the "Is there anything you want for yourself?" trick. No dice. "Batman costume for bunny. Very small." I found one. (it comes off the wolf, who wound up without costume with a cousin who likes wolves.) I can't keep doing this...
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:53 PM on July 31 [12 favorites]


sweetkid, I am sorry that happened to your family. I hope that Josh is grown now with a daughter who likes shows like Doc McStuffins.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:38 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


My daughter was obsessed with the show for a while. Owns the doctor kit. Several Doc McStuffins dolls. Still sleeps with those. Loves them. One of the best things about modern-day cartoons / kids-fare is many of those shows are marvelously inclusive.

You know, now that I think about it I don't believe she has ever mentioned the skin color of any of her dolls? Or her friends for that matter. My kids know that people come in all shapes, colors and sizes and that's good enough for them. As far as I can tell, they only divide people into "Jewish" and "Not Jewish." Which probably makes sense because that's the only thing we ever bother to distinguish for them. Such as "Bobby celebrates Christmas because he and his family aren't Jewish."
posted by zarq at 8:31 PM on July 31


sweetkid, that's infuriating. And very sad. :(
posted by zarq at 8:32 PM on July 31


I think...

...I think this thread makes me feel better about humanity.
posted by JHarris at 8:34 PM on July 31


Doc McStuffins is currently my 4-year-old biracial (Irish/Chinese) daughter's second favorite show, after Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse (shrug, what can you do). She has a Doc doll that she plays with quite a bit, and my wife gave her a real stethoscope, which she plays with even more. We live in Toronto, and her peer group is very multicultural.

Her four year old cousin though (who is the whitest, blondest, blue-eyedest kid you would ever meet) is obsessed with Doc McStuffins. She has like six different Doc t-shirts and basically refuses to wear anything else. And she lives out in the super-conservative, 99% white, super-racist small town where I grew up. The intolerance and backwardness of the place still make me shudder. I remember hearing kike and nigger jokes on a pretty daily basis on the bus to elementary school. And now there are four year old girls running around the place with t-shirts showing the giant smiling face of a black girl with professional ambitions.

I think this TV show might actually change the world.
posted by 256 at 8:52 PM on July 31 [14 favorites]


I hear you, sweetkid. And the point of my anecdote about my kid wasn't that he "didn't see race." Clearly, he did. The point was, he hadn't yet internalized all of the shitty preconceptions we end up with about race. I'm doing my best to limit how.much those take hold. But I'm well aware of how long the odds are, and of how much they don't favor the brown kids. But I'm trying. Really, I am.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:57 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


I give Disney credit for what they're doing with this show. I'll actually divert the kids from Disney XD to Disney Junior just because XD is cramming and merging their shiny new Star Wars toy into anything and EVERYTHING they can get their hands on. It's awful.

What really made me sit up and take notice was a Doc McStuffins episode my daughter was watching this week. It featured a princess that wanted to do the rescuing instead of waiting for the Knight in Shining Armour to rescue her.

Turns out that Geena Davis was behind the episode in her efforts to balance gender in media.


And, to be honest, I didn't even know Dottie/Doc was black. It never crossed my mind for some reason.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:03 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Okay, the only place I'd heard of this before (ONLY the name "Doc McStuffins," I thought it was a parody thing) was on Parks and Recreation. Of course, I assumed it was about a white dude.

Happy to know it's not.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:55 PM on July 31


Sid, The Science Kid is biracial, with a black mom. His dad is white, maybe Jewish. It's hard to tell because he's kind of goldenrod, actually.

After years of lurking around these parts, I finally sign up to confirm that yes, Sid's dad is Jewish. This is confirmed during the holiday episode where Sid celebrates Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. The first two come from his mother's side, the latter from his father.

Having a kiddo who diligently watched this show almost nightly for a year has finally paid off.....
posted by splen at 5:30 AM on August 1 [8 favorites]


Having a 5 year old boy, we watch this show together. It's a great show teaching all sorts of topics from gender role models, to race, to caring, to doing the right thing, to problem solving. It also lets me reinforce that he can watch/like anything he wants to--from Doc McStuffins, to My Little Pony, to Barbie to Captain America--it's just a show. Like what you like and screw others who say differently about what gender, race, etc. to watch because you're a certain gender, race, etc.
posted by stormpooper at 9:20 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


...after Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse (shrug, what can you do).

256, have you watched Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse? It totally makes fun of the entire Barbie ethos. It's seriously one of the funniest kids' shows on television right now.

My 6-year-old girl is also a huge Doc McStuffins fan. She wants to be a vet, an astronaut, and a cop. Yes really.

Sid the Science Kid evokes all kinds of uncanny valley heebie-jeebies for me. It's as if Muppets were real people living among us.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:40 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


My white, blond, blue-eyed nieces love Doc McStuffins and have never commented on her colour. In fact I'm not sure I ever registered the fact that's she's black until now. Maybe it's because I have the privilege of not having to register it (though I loved The Bluest Eye so the idea of young girls of colour having little cultural representation has been on my radar for a long time). The 5 year old is big into the Disney Princesses (sigh) and she doesn't make any difference between Cinderella and Tiana, and my mum buys her lots of charity shop Barbies (double sigh) and I noticed one day that about a third of them are black, but she's never made any comment about it.

I'm really pleased that they're growing up with no concept yet of difference based on race, especially as we live somewhere overwhelmingly white, as I hope that when they do start to be aware of it, it will be from a place of automatically believing that everyone is equal. Hopefully that will mean they're able to resist internalising negative messages and be more able to challenge injustices when they see them.
posted by billiebee at 9:50 AM on August 1


I mentioned Doc McStuffins at a job interview today. There was general assent that she was cool.
posted by Biblio at 1:44 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]


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