Montreal

Pixan dolls buck the makeup trend in favour of diverse beauty

Lizette Flores is redefining what beautiful means by revamping generic looking dolls to make them more multicultural.

Beloeil, Que. woman hand-paints commercially-made dolls to better reflect cultural mosaic

Lizette Flores is redefining what beautiful means by revamping generic looking dolls to make them more multicultural.

The Beloeil, Que. resident takes dolls designed by well-known toy companies and repaints them to represent women of all colours.

"A Barbie doll is just a preconceived image of a what a beautiful woman should look like," Flores said.

"I find it sad. It dictates what we should look like to feel beautiful and loved."

Flores' dolls are designed to represent several different cultural groups: Brazilian, Cuban, Mexican, Afghan and Inuit.

"Every girl is beautiful," she said. 

Flores said the idea came to her this year after her daughter, who is of Mexican decent, started showing signs of insecurity.

The 13-year-old came home upset one day because one of her classmates had made a comment about how dark her skin had become over the summer.

"I was like okay, but why does this matter?" said Flores.

She started painting the dolls, which she calls Pixan dolls, about a month ago. She sells the dolls on the online craft market, Etsy. 

Flores said she believes there are children who are fine with people who look different and others who may not be. 

"What makes the different positive and negative reactions? It has to come from education," she said.

One of Flores' dolls was purchased by a history teacher in Australia who wanted to show her class how the female body has been depicted throughout history.

Celebrating body shapes

It's not just about paint. Flores started off by making woolen dolls.

She said she enjoyed knitting them because she was able to modify their different body shapes.

One of her favourite dolls was a woolen doll modeled after Nalie, a Montreal blogger who documented her battle with breast cancer.

"She was bald and she was beautiful," said Flores about the Nalie doll.

Several other artists have picked up on the same idea, producing dolls that more closely resemble real women and girls.

The Lammily doll by designer Nickolay Lamm has real looking features—freckles, acne, cellulite and all. An Australian woman has also generated a lot of attention on social media with her "made under" Bratz dolls, which she gives new life to as the Tree Change Dolls.

Flores says it's all part of a wider awareness of the impact of stereotypes and children's toys.

"There's a movement going on," Flores said, with a laugh.

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