A Brazilian man has turned his love of art into a thriving business by selling hyper-realistic dolls that are both unique and diverse.
To meet his clients' requests, Rafinha Silva mixes and matches different parts of various Barbie dolls and fashions tiny custom wigs for each figure, Cosmopolitan reports.
While many of his dolls feature long, flowing hair, Silva told the site that naturally curly locks are in high demand among his clientele.
Considering the lack of representation in toys, this makes perfect sense. Children want dolls that look like them, and unfortunately, there's a serious lack of diverse options available when it comes to skin tone and body shape.
As a result, many people have created their own line of dolls to fill this need, such as Hamilton, Ont. mom Queen Cee, who launched the Herstory doll line.
— Queen Dollylama (@WSGT_queencee) February 22, 2017
"I was basically led to customize because as much as people will say, 'Oh there's black dolls here in Canada, you just have to go to the stores' — well, there's not," the mom of five previously told HuffPost Canada. "There's maybe one out of a slew of other dolls that are not black or reflective of someone of ethnicity."
While Silva did not set out to create diverse dolls, his creations certainly prove that there is a high demand for them. Just take a look at some of his incredible work:
Silva began creating dolls in 2013 after he was inspired to model a doll after the late Amy Winehouse. "I loved the experience of being able to customize, and I wanted to be able to continue producing more and more pieces," he told Cosmopolitan.
Since then, Silva has customized over 500 dolls for his clients.
Silva's work is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to making dolls more diverse, however, more work needs to be done in the toy industry.
Despite the fact that Mattel recently introduced a new diverse line of Barbie and Ken dolls with various skin tones, face structures, and hairstyles, there is still a lack of representation when it comes to religion, body shape, skin conditions and abilities.
For instance, dolls wearing hijabs are extremely rare, but are important for representation. An incident last month where a Milton, Ont. mother was surprised with 25 handmade hijabi dolls on her porch proves this.
"For someone to recognize me, my religion, and to give us agency herein. I felt acknowledged. And accepted. And welcomed," the mother, Sheza Hasan, shared on social media. "When being ourselves — a seemingly simple idea — seems like the toughest thing to accomplish, gestures like this reach out to us and provide the strength we need to carry on."
Here's hoping the toy industry takes note when stories like these and creations like Silva's make the news.
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