Giving hyper-sexualized Barbies the boot, Go! Go! Sports Girl dolls encourage young girls to cherish the inner-athlete and “get a little dirt on their skirts”
As adults, most of us relish the opportunity for our makeup to run and our clothes to stink because of a great sweat sesh (as long as there's an opportunity to change before we head back into work). But remember what it was like to be 12 and long to have a dress as pretty as your dolls? Well, entrepreneur and mom-of-three Jodi Norgaards is looking to change that with her line of Go! Go! Sports Girls, a line of sports-playing dolls that want to show girls of all ages that athletes are the new princesses.
Their tagline says it all: "Get a little dirt on your skirt." "It's awesome that girls want to wear a fancy dress but I want to tell them, 'You can sparkle and you can be fierce,'" says Norgaards.
And that's exactly what the plush dolls do—the beautiful girls are themed around different sports, as they play soccer, basketball, gymnastics, golf, tennis, softball, and swimming. There's even a running doll, Ella, who is described as someone who always puts on sunscreen and stretches, drinks plenty of water, and likes to eat bananas after a race (clearly a Shape girl in the making!). Each doll comes with the peoper gear for their sport and has a secret motto stitched on their stomachs to inspire girls; Ella's reads "Dream big, run fast!"
Norgaards was inspired to make the dolls after she took her nine year old daughter, Grace, to the toy store after soccer and the best doll they could find was a plush toy provocatively named "Lovely Lola." Looking at the doll—wearing a mini skirt, crop top, high heels, and tons of makeup—and then at her daughter in her sweet, sweaty uniform, Norgaards thought, "I can do better than this. I have to do better than this."
"Any time 'sexy' comes to mind when looking at a toy for little kids, it needs to be off the shelves," she says. "I think we're all tired of seeing little girls sexualized."
To combat the hyper-sexualized image of girls and women in our society the Go! Go! Sports Girls not only play a wide range of sports but show body diversity with a variety of skin colors, body types, and hair styles.
But Norgaards says her favorite part of the process was connecting with author Kara Thom, a mom of four herself, who offered to write a book to accompany each doll. Rather than a sensational or super-star story, Thom focuses on "good, wholesome, every day girl issues" that ladies young and old can relate to.
"I've always loved sports. I was never great but I enjoyed them," Norgaard says. "I just want to encourage girls to use their bodies in a healthy way."
And her message is definitely spreading. The Tennis Girl was the first doll to sell out at the U.S. Open in 2008 and the line has been picked up by Wal-Mart and other retail outlets, earning many toy awards along the way and reinforcing to girls everywhere that there's no better accessory than sweat.