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How this natural-haired Black doll is proving why representation matters

Meet Zoe!

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She boasts kinky-curls, brown skin and full facial features-- just like the girls she was created to empower. Her name is Zoe and she's the first multicultural doll from the company Healthy Roots Dolls.

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Zoe is the brainchild of illustrator Yelista Jean-Charles, who was inspired to create a doll after classmates loved her version of Rapunzel which reimagined her as a Black girl with curly hair.

"My classmates were saying 'Oh my God, this looks like a doll. Have you thought about a making a doll?'", said Yelista Jean-Charles.

The idea to create a doll hadn't crossed her mind, but she knew how impactful it was for her as a child to rarely see dolls on the shelves that looked like her.

"I started working on Healthy Roots Dolls, as a multicultural children's products company to create the representation I didn't have growing up because more than 50% of the children in the U.S. are children of color, but if you go down a toy aisle you don't see that represented there," said Jean-Charles.

"I did research where I learned that toys influence how kids think, act and see themselves. When little girls can't find dolls that look like them it negatively impacts their self esteem," said Jean-Charles.

Yelista used the $4,000 she won from the Brown University Social Innovation fellowship to work on her doll that summer and was able to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter to launch her first doll which is Zoe.

"Zoe teaches girls to love their curls because she has hair that can be washed and styled just like their own," said Jean-Charles.

But not only does Zoe teach girls of color self-love, she exposes diversity to girls who may not see that in their own environments.

"I want Zoe to be someone that inspires people and teaches people to be their best selves and advocate for others," said Jean-Charles.

If you'd like to bring Zoe home, she is available for pre-order until Nov. 30. Just in time for the holidays!