The training in narcissism begins early. The Wall Street Journal today has an item about parents buying dolls designed to look exactly like the children they are given to—“one of the hottest niches in the doll business” (how many niches are there?) and presumably the natural development from those build-your-own dolls that rose to prominence over the last ten years. The build-your-own dolls, though, at least encourage the child to try to exercise some creativity. These creepy new look-alike dolls send the message that what the child looks like is far more important than anything that goes on inside their imagination. Why be creative when you can simply bask in the wonder of you? Why entertain the possibilities of learning about the world beyond yourself, or reaching out to that world with the play of your imagination when you can just stare at yourself and aggrandize everything you can think to do? What better way to make sure your little girl knows she is just an object in this world to be manipulated by others than to give her a doll that lets her do the maniupulating? Then she can be like a third-wave feminist and participate in her own exploitation and call it liberty!
In truth, these dolls may be less for the kids than for their parents, and their fantasies of total control over their children: “While Shannon was visibly shaken bby seeing her face on the doll, her mother laughed and said, ‘It’s my kid. What’s not to like?’ “