While we’re on the subject of age-appropriateness then it might be time to meet Lottie. Bright eyes, funky clothes, and a can-do attitude as well — but she’s only 18cm tall. She might be a doll but don’t dismiss her as just another Barbie clone. Rather than the wasp-waisted, silicone-enhanced, stork-legged bimbo hated by feminists, Lottie has the proportions of a regular nine-year-old girl and has a broad range of interests including surfing, astronomy, and martial arts. She can literally stand on her own two feet too — her feet aren’t permanently contorted into an invisible stiletto, so a child can stand her up on a flat surface.
Lottie comes in a range of hair colours and ethnicities, and has Irish roots. She was created in London by Lucie Follett and Ian Harkin but when they decided to upscale their company, Arklu, from their kitchen tables they set up business in Donegal, “an unemployment blackspot, where over 24% of the working population were unemployed”.
They got a government agency loan to set up and now Lottie is a firm favourite with many girls. ‘Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You’ is her tagline and she ticks a lot of boxes for parents too. Her website features games encouraging participation in Steam subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths); she promotes positive body image; she promotes reading and gender equality. Her accessories are more of the telescope and skateboard kind than a champagne glass and she’s doesn’t burble that “maths class is tough”.
Dismiss hair ribbons and dolls at your peril — they might seem frivolous but if little girls see a counterpart being confident and doing well, or play heroic, active games with their toys, then surely they’re on the right track.