Viola Davis doesn’t give her daughter Barbie dolls for reasons that she doesn’t mind sharing with media. The actress tells ESSENCE that her refusal to buy Genesis certain dolls stems from her belief in self-acceptance.

“I don’t give her Barbie dolls,” she shares. “The only sort of ‘dolls’ that she could [have] are superhero dolls; she just got [one] in the mail.”


Viola’s view of Barbie dolls is not individual. Many experts have coined the classic action figure as the source of inferiority in girls. Mattel sought to create a more positive outlook for its most popular toy by launching a plus-size Barbie a few months back.

“Barbie has always given girls choices – from her 180 careers, to inspirational roles, to her countless fashions and accessories,” Barbie’s global general manager Evelyn Mazzoco said in a statement. “These new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them.”

Still, even with recent improvements, Viola probably won’t be a celebrity mom lining up to buy her daughter one of the beloved toys. “I want Genesis to know that her values are within,” the actress shares with ESSENCE. “It’s important that [young girls] see someone who looks like them and someone who’s living their authentic life. Someone who’s owning their story.”

Davis further explains, “I don’t think that you can live a life for two minutes and say that you’ve never failed or you’re not struggling through something or you’re not getting ready to. If you’re saying that, then you’re 100% lying and the people who are looking up to you who are struggling, you’re not helping them. You’re making them feel less alone and more ashamed than ever. Sharing my truths unapologetically helps connect us as women of color, as women, as people.”

Genesis is Viola Davis’ only child with husband Julius Tennon. The couple adopted their daughter in 2011.

Photo: Getty Images



Sarie is a writer and editor for BCK's Los Angeles division. She also shares stories on Medium that are meant to encourage thought and discussion. You can catch her outside enjoying nature and classical literature. Pop culture is pretty fun, too!

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