Positive Reinforcement

In a camo gown, the Deborah doll represents a strong warrior who reminds young girls that strength is beautiful.
05/04/2021

Beautiful Blessings, an ethnically diverse line of 12-inch dolls with curvy, realistic figures, is ready to inspire girls of all ages.

by Tina Manzer

Designed by Raveen James, a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, the dolls accurately reflect the average female body and empower girls to embrace a positive and realistic image of themselves.

But their message is more than skin deep. “Beyond the dolls physical traits, I wanted them to have the emotional strength we all need,” explains Raveen from her headquarters in Braintree, Massachusetts. “I think of this quote from Oprah, ‘Be the you that you want to see in the world.’ I marvel at how appropriate it is for today’s children who are experiencing more-than-the-usual-amount of doubt about their place in the world. I hope Beautiful Blessings will help them understand their own unique inner beauty and purpose, and strive to do something positive with their lives.

“I also hope the dolls help create a sense of unity,” she adds. “Instead of tearing each other down, let’s inspire each other and build each other up.”

Raveen’s designs combine her love of fashion (she’s a former model), her Christian faith, and the inspiration she receives from role models who include her mother, Oprah, Michelle Obama, healthcare workers, teachers and women in the military.

The three dolls in the current line were inspired by heroines from the Bible, and reflect their characteristics. Deborah arrives dressed in a big red hat and suit trimmed with rhinestones. Mary is distinguished in a black and white suit and fur hat. Virtuous Lady is known for her dignity. She’s elegant in a white suit trimmed in pearls and rhinestones.

Raveen notes that additional clothing and accessories are available. More dolls and clothing are planned post-COVID. “I would like to design dolls of Asian descent, Indian descent, a bald doll or, can you imagine, a doll with big thick glasses? I think they’d be so important to kids who are teased because they don’t fit society’s example of ‘beautiful.’”

While Raveen designed the dolls for children to play with, adults – especially current and former members of college sororities – emerged as an unexpected market. “As a teenager and then a college student, I had many friends who were Deltas and AKAs,” she explains. “More recently, they asked me if I’d represent them in dolls, and inquired about creating dolls that represent the Zetas and Sigma Rho sororities, too. Of course I said yes! I would consider anything that promoted sisterhood and positivity!”

When she was a child growing up in Philadelphia, “I remember how challenging it was for my mom to find dolls that looked like me. Now as an adult, when I want to purchase a doll for a birthday or holiday gift, I leave the toy store disappointed in the lack of diversity and inspiration. I want to purchase toys that represent our diverse world and that influence positive thinking, education and inclusion.

“The toys we played with growing up … there was that sense of ‘becoming’ them, identifying with them,” she says. “Good toys promote children seeing themselves in new and positive ways.”

The feedback Raveen receives from purchasers of Beautiful Blessings can bring her to tears. ‘“Thank you for making something that authentically looks like me’ – I get that a lot, especially from younger girls. And it’s really delightful to hear a little one say, ‘Oh, she looks like Mommy!’”

In April, Beautiful Blessings was honored by the Braintree Awards Program for the way “it enhances the positive image of small business through service to its customers and our community.” Each year through the program, recognition is given to those companies that “have shown their ability to use best practices to implement programs that generate competitive advantage and long-term value.”

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