"It had begun with Christmas,” declared Claudia, Toni Morrison’s narrator in her novel The Bluest Eye. “The big, the special, the loving gift was always a big, blue-eyed, Baby Doll. From the clucking sounds of adults I knew that the doll represented what they thought was my fondest wish. I was bemused with the thing itself, and the way it looked. What was I supposed to do with it?“1 Through much of the twentieth century, generations of African-American children experienced the full force of this fictional character’s dilemma. Their skin color posed a barrier between their self-image and the image of innumerable blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned dolls. In Morrison’s novel, Claudia reacted by declaring that she did not love babies and did not want to grow up and be a mother. Later, she struck out. She destroyed the white dolls. “But the dismembering of dolls,” she relates, “was not the true horror. The truly horrifying thing was the transference of the same impulses to little white girls. The indifference with which I could have axed them was shaken only by my desire to do so. To discover what eluded me: the secret of the magic they weaved on others. What made people look at them and say, ‘Awwwww,’ but not for me?“
"Color Matters: The Creation of the SaraLee Doll,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 73:
2, Article 3.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol73/iss2/3