Little girls have been playing with dolls for centuries; sharing their love for fashion, hosting tea parties and whispering their deepest, darkest secrets into their ears. Dolls have always been a great learning tool, as well as a trusted childhood companion.
My Doll & Me is the newest line of companions in the Lebanese market. These are not just any dolls. They are special. Traditional dolls with traditional names, each from a different period in Lebanese history.
Each doll comes with her own story and lessons to teach little girls, not only about their heritage, but about friendship and life.
Founder, Lamice Joujou, mother of three and a passionate member of the child education and entertainment industry, with a background in psychology, brought a Western idea and molded it to appeal to Arab girls.
Leila is the first doll in this line, from 1943. Her story dwells around two main subjects: her independence and a hard friendship lesson between Leila and her very good friend, Randa.
The dolls’ stories not only focus on their history and heritage but they are also meant to teach girls about real life situations and subjects that any girl can encounter – no matter what generation they come from – such as friendship, the true meaning of happiness and standing up for what you believe in. HOME for Summer sat down with Joujou to find out more about these quintessentially Lebanese dolls.
Heritage is very important to pass down to young children. How does My Doll & Me help to achieve this?
I incorporated a regional aspect to the new line. The dolls represent different eras of Lebanon’s history and they are dolls that our girls can relate to, away from those you find in the market today, looking like supermodels, giving far-fromreachable beauty goals and messages to the new generations. These dolls stand for values like care, empathy, civic responsibility, respect, friendship and breaking gender stereotyping.
Indeed heritage is very important, as it’s where every human being is anchored.
My Doll & Me has dedicated a whole line to the Lebanese and very soon other countries’ heritage. History has rarely been the favorite subject at school for many, yet we all know how important it is, regardless of the political facts.
Many interesting facts from Lebanese heritage are, unfortunately, completely unknown to the new generation. I have meant to create dolls representing special eras in the Lebanese history, where the doll, being the heroine of the story, takes us back to this specific time and tells us how she used to live, go to school, spend her weekend, play, eat and so on.
Reading Leila or Zeina’s story is not only about history, but also about learning very interesting facts about our roots, such as:
Bargese – a complex ‘cross-and circle’ race board game that was popular in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s
Mouneh – HOMEmade preserved foodstuffs like sweet preserves, pickles, cheeses, distilled items and dried goods derived from vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers and animal products.
We also have noticed a beautiful intergenerational exchange between the girls and their grandmas through Leila and Zeina dolls, and it is a result we are very proud of.
With technology grabbing kids at increasingly young ages, how do you expect to attract them still with dolls?
Technology is a great tool when used moderately and for the purpose of facilitating our lives, yet when it becomes our only mean of communication and entertainment, that’s where it raises a red flag.
The doll is a classical companion and will never cease to attract a girl’s attention, that’s for sure. We are happy for that, as it is a healthy tool for role-play and communication.
What are you hoping children will learn from their experience with the dolls?
I hope that we would be giving them a best friend who would live until their kids’ generation and transmit the same messages over again.
Is there anything new and upcoming you’d like to tell us about?
I’m working on adding more lines of dolls to empower girls and give them appropriate role models to look up to.
I have one last wish for My Doll & Me: for moms to open the windows of communication with their daughters and give time to interact, listen, share and play with them. It’s the greatest investment any parent can do for his or her kids!