Is giving white toddlers dolls of color to play with a fad? Or is it based in scientific study?

I’ve noticed a trend lately of white mothers giving black or brown baby dolls to their toddlers. The hope is that doing so will help teach their children to be free of racial bias. I’m wondering if this is simply another band wagon for mothers to jump on similar to the feminist one I followed when I was raising my three daughters or if it will really make a difference?

At the time I was raising my daughters – especially the oldest – the current thinking was that girls should be primarily offered toys previously associated with boys. I bought my toddler daughter a toy garage with cars, a toy airplane, jumbo Legos, etc. I was mortified when the toy she played with most was her baby doll. All she wanted to do was give her doll a bath and push her around in a tiny stroller. I felt like a feminist failure!

Fast forward some years, and her favorite toys were My Little Pony. I let my sister give my daughter a Barbie doll when she was five. Later, all she and her sisters wanted to do was dress their Barbie dolls in princess gowns and style their hair in outlandish updos.

We all laugh now about one particular Barbie play session, when my Barbie owned a restaurant and not a single ball gown.

Back to the current trend.

In a decidedly non-scientific study of a mixed group of mothers of preschoolers, I asked if they encourage their toddlers to play with dolls of another color. They neither encouraged nor discouraged and said their toddlers seemed to have no skin color bias in choosing available dolls to play with. However, the mother of an older child said her daughter had definite preferences in picking out dolls that looked like her.

Studies of older children show that little girls, who are mimicking being mothers, should have dolls that look like them, and in fact, will select those dolls.

Despite my angst over their preference for dolls, all three of my daughters grew to be independent, accomplished women.

Which brings me back to my original question: does it matter if white toddlers are specifically given dolls of varying skin colors to play with? Is this important in raising children who are free of color bias or is it simply a currently popular bandwagon?