In the service of diversity: Mirriam Tyebally Fang, an Indian who grew up in Singapore, is working to create Asian dolls free of clichés.
Do you have children yourself, Ms. Tyebally?
Yes, a three-year-old daughter. It was actually my daughter who gave me my business idea. She loves dolls, one in particular with blue eyes and orange lips. For a long time I thought it wasn’t a problem. But, dolls are more than just toys; they are mirrors in which children discover themselves. I noticed how my daughter identified herself with the doll and how she experienced her own Asian physiognomy as needing changing.
Don’t the big doll manufacturers like Mattel, who are present all over the world, market Asian models?
They do, but unfortunately, the faces are completely clichéd; as an Asian, you sometimes feel insulted.
At what stage are you with your project today?
I’m speaking with many people about the doll’s appearance; on the one hand with people from the industry, but also with people from my circle of relatives.
When will the first children play with a “a girl like me” doll?
I want to start production in 2020. Until then, however, I still have a double burden with my studies. I am doing my doctorate at the Institute for Biomedical Ethics and Medical History at the University of Zurich.
What’s it about?
I’m investigating the subject of pregnancy, not from the point of view of doctors, hospitals, or health insurance companies, but from the point of view of women. Here, too, I’m concerned with the perspective. We live in a diverse society. We have to accept that everyone has his or her own perceptions.