Detroit Doll Show Brings African-American Culture, Beauty to Life

t's not just a plaything. A doll, according to Detroit artist and author Sandra Epps, is "a teaching tool, a reflection of who we are-our history, pride, legacy, culture and beauty." She hopes this is the takeaway for all who attend the second Detroit Doll Show at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013.

Epps, the owner of Sandy's Land-a publishing house and kids' entertainment service-hosts this special show that predominantly features African-American dolls. Epps says when you go to Toys R Us, it's hard to find dolls that resemble Black people. She says that often, Black Barbie dolls, for instance, are the same White dolls with a darker shade. Rarely do you see the textured hair or the big lips that are unique to the race.

"I believe it is important for women and children to see themselves in the products that they use," Epps says in a statement. "Dolls teach children about themselves and the world around them."

The Detroit Doll Show, which was started to create a "synergy among doll collectors, artists, enthusiasts, designers, women and children," will have 12 doll vendors this year and various doll artists from Chicago, New York, Canada and Michigan.

The show celebrates different kinds dolls with raffles, workshops, giveaways and contests-like the doll look-a-like contest, where young girls and, of course, big kids (or serious collectors) can dress like their own dolls. There's even a make-your-own doll station with dolls that come in a variety of shades, from very light to dark.


Although fashion designer Byron Lars won't be attending the event, there will be a tribute to him in honor of his Treasures of Africa Barbie collection. The collection, along with his other Black Barbie dolls, showcases glamorous dolls with African features.

Tonya Montegut, founder of Dolls by MonTQ, is one of the event's presenters from New York. Epps says her dolls have a unique flair about them. They are full of sass with funky boots, big earrings, gorgeous outfits and with natural, textured hair. Terry Crawford, president of Motor City Doll Club, and Black doll expert Debbie Garrett of Texas also will present.

Epps says Black dolls help with little Black girls' self-esteem, because they are able to see themselves and relate to them. Just like the Julia Barbie doll, which came out in the late '60s, did for girls growing up in that era. The Julia doll, one of the first celebrity Barbies, was created in the image of Diahann Carroll-who played Julia Baker on the self-titled television show, Julia.

According to Epps, Julia was a positive role model to so many girls and a reflection of Black women.

The show will be held 1-6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Admission is $5 for ages 3 and up.

For additional details about the Detroit Doll Show at The Wright in Detroit, visit the BLAC calendar listing.

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