‘Pro girl’ dolls –

doll‘Pro girl’ dolls who are pirates, inventors and karate stars with regular  body shapes created to stem tide of ‘sexism on shelves’

Th dolls encourage girls to be sporty like Kawaii Karate Lottie

A range of dolls have been created to defy  gender stereotypes and encourage girls to be adventurous, inquisitive and sporty.

Lottie is billed as a ‘fashion doll with a  difference’ because – unlike a Barbie doll which has an impossibly slim figure –  Lottie has been designed to look and dress like a child.

She has the body shape of a young girl and  does not wear make-up or high heels.

The toy, aimed at three-to-nine-year-olds,  was the brainchild of Lucie Follett and Ian Harkin who have developed the idea  with their Ireland-based toy company, Arklu.

Campaigners such as Let Toys Will Be Toys have  highlighted recently how toys have become increasingly gender specific – with  girls’ products often pink and centred on being a Robot Girl Lottie is an inventorprincess or domestic goddess  while boys’ toys are blue and encourage them to be scientific, sporty and  macho.

After conducting market research,  Arklu found more than half of parents polled believed that toys influence children in their  future lives with respect to their education,  careers and lifestyle choices.

As a result, 92  per cent felt toys can contribute towards breaking the gender divide and 93 per  cent felt it was important that toys help to empower  girls in a fun and  educational manner.

In response to these findings, Arklu  developed six different Lottie dolls, costing £16.99 each, which aim to show  girls they can be clever and adventurous and ‘do  anything men can do’.

Some of the range has been inspired by real  life heroines, such as Pirate Queen  Lottie, who is based on Grace O’Malley.

She was dubbed the Pirate Queen during her  lifetime in 16th century Ireland. She rejected the traditional role women were  supposed to fall into for a life as a warrior on the high seas and once met with  Queen Elizabeth  I.

An accessories set can be bought for  Pirate Queen Lottie that comes with  silver coins, a treasure map and collector cards highlighting key events in  O’Malley’s life, giving girls a chance to  learn about history as they play.

Meanwhile Robot Girl Lottie and the Busy  Lizzie  Robot encourages girls to be scientific and inventive. She was inspired  by the story of Allie Weber, an eight-year-old from the U.S. who tried to create a robot from recycled household items for her school science fair, as well as high flying female scientist and inventors such as Erin Kennedy and Kathy Ceceri.

There’s also Kawaii Karate Lottie who is a  fan of marital arts and encourages girls to be active and bold. She was inspired  by Sensei Debi Steven, founder of PeeWee Karate in London.

Originally  from South Africa, Sensei Debi  represented the Springbok ‘all styles’  karate team internationally and founded  a ground-breaking initiative to deliver free  self-defence classes to  underprivileged women and girls in India.

Collector cards  for the doll demonstrate  karate stances for beginners that children can try.

Butterfly Protector Lottie celebrates science  and conservation while Pony Flag Race Lottie is competitive and loves the  challenge of racing on her beloved horse.

The dolls were first launched in August  2012 with the motto ‘Be Bold, Be Brave,  Be You’ and have received praise from parents and campaigners.

Positive play: Other dolls in the range encourage girls to be sporty, brave and kind to nature

Britain’s Got Talent judge, Amanda Holden,  who has two daughters, admits she is a Lottie fan. She said: ‘My  daughter (and I!) love her – we’re huge fans of her. It’s a brilliant idea to  create a positive doll.’

I welcome this venture which will enable parents to provide their kids with dolls  created  with positive body image in mind, and the message that it’s not  all about  looks. – MP Jo Swinson, co-founder  of the Campaign for Body Confidence

Lottie sells in 14 countries and appears in 17 language versions, including  Chinese, Russian and Japanese. The dolls and associated products are available  to buy from and

By  Lucy Waterlow

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