Noble Rose Press, a company run by sisters Breezy and Emily Rose Brookshire, offers paper doll books entitled Daughters of His Story. As a former little girl myself and the mother of two daughters who love the concept of creating worlds through the different scenery and attire paper dolls offer, I think this is great. Far too many children have stopped playing in earnest by the age of three or so in lieu of television shows and video games. However, I do have some concerns about the underlining message of this particular line of paper dolls.
As young girls, Breezy and Emily Rose enjoyed listening to their mother read aloud for hours, and they especially remember the impact that the stories of courageous and godly women had on them. The stories not only inspired them in biblical femininity, but they also wanted to share these women’s lives with other girls.
In the summer of 2009, God gave their mother an idea: Paper dolls based on historical women that exemplified virtuous womanhood and modest clothing while teaching young girls and their mothers about our rich heritage in the Kingdom of God. Breezy could paint the ladies and their wardrobes, while Emily Rose could design the booklets on the computer.
A friend encouraged them to present the paper dolls to several catalogs. Interest was shown, and with the blessing and wisdom from their father, Breezy and Emily Rose proceeded to plow forward to meet catalog deadlines. God’s provision was seen throughout every detail of creating each booklet, which they hope will be a source of hours of play and inspiration.
So this venture really took off when they had their father’s blessing … oh, and his wisdom. That’s significant.
The first paper doll collection focuses on Katharina von Bora (hospitable wife of Martin Luther, the great reformer) and Idelette Calvin (caring wife of John Calvin, the great theologian). I’m sure the fact that von Bora abandoned vows made to the Catholic church to marry Luther (who was 42 to her 26) is not a prime focus, nor is her rather feminist response to Luther’s comments advocating polygamy—“I’d rather go back to the convent and leave you and all our children.”
Abigail Adams, “encouraging wife of our second president, John Adams,” and Sarah Edwards, “diligent wife of Jonathan Edwards the great preacher,” highlight the second collection. You know, I’m a little confused here … Abigail Adams was quite outspoken on women’s rights in areas like education and property ownership considering that she lived from 1744-1818. John Adams was, in fact, most attracted to Abigail’s mind and her knowledge of “inappropriate” readings about philosophy and politics.
The third collection stars Priscilla Mullins (“faithful pilgrim who came to America on the Mayflower and married John Alden”) and Pocahontas (“peacemaking ally of Jamestown who married John Rolfe”). Christianity was forced on Pocahontas while in English captivity, and her rich legacy was lost as she became “Rebecca Rolfe” and the ability to “rightly have a kingdom by her means,” according to John Smith. Ultimately, Pocahontas was little more than a pawn; this “peacemaking” that is referred to has more to do with how the men in her life used her name and circumstances to further their own causes.
I am not a historian, nor do I pretend to be. However, it is doing a great disservice to the memories of these women to boil their lives down to simpering adjectives like caring, hospitable, encouraging, diligent, faithful, and peacemaking without taking into account who they were independent of their husbands. I realize that these women, on the surface, fit into the “good religious wife” mold, hence their inclusion in these paper doll books. However, it is doing a grave disservice to both their memories and to the minds of today’s little girls to imply that this is all that they were.
What are your thoughts on these paper doll collections?