( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Divas and Dolls Is Helping Young Girls Develop a Positive Self-Worth and Image
ENSPIRE Contributor: Kate Newman
Celebrity host, author, motivational speaker, commentator, and brand and road manager for artist Doug E. Fresh, Fiyah Tyressa Ty wholeheartedly believes that “every little girl around the world deserves a doll.” Through this belief, and her desire to give back to her community, Tyressa Ty created Divas and Dolls. Founded in 2013, Divas and Dolls provides encouragement, upliftment, and cheer all across the country by collecting and gifting dolls to the young girls who need them. However, to founder Fiyah Tyressa Ty, the initiative gives girls far more than a doll. From her perspective, a doll is like a “first friend.” The gift of a doll not only brightens a little girl’s day but also makes a positive impact on the development of her self-identity and self-image.
Partnering with women leaders of business and community, Ty has continued to grow the initiative. With an ever-expanding network of children’s hospitals, shelters, and businesses from across more than 15 U.S. cities, Divas and Dolls is making a real impact on the lives of young women and girls.
What inspired you to want to start the Divas and Dolls initiative in the first place?
The inspiration behind Divas and Dolls started nearly seven years ago. In working a volunteer event (in New Orleans), I came across a young girl; all she basically wanted was a doll and not much else. It really struck me how something so simple could make such an impact. From there, the concept of Divas and Dolls comes together.
Year after year, Divas and Dolls continue to expand across the country. Did you ever imagine it would reach this level?
My hope was for Divas and Dolls to grow within the city of New Orleans. I did not predict growing to the levels we have in recent years, including 2020 where we have “divas” based in states such as (but not limited to) California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, and others. We also have supporters overseas, so I am very grateful for our expanded reach as “every little girl around the world deserves a doll.”
What are your future plans for expanding the initiative?
We are committed to expanding our program. We’ve been blessed with some truly wonderful people and support each year. They embrace the vision and know, during the holidays, our efforts help make a positive impact. Our goal is to continue identifying women and locations across the country and beyond who can relate to what we are doing and do so in as genuine a manner as possible. As the saying goes, together, everyone achieves more (TEAM).
What does a positive self-identity and self-image mean to you? Why do you feel it so necessary for young girls to begin developing these skills at such a young age?
Positive self-image and self-identity truly are important components, not only in the development of young people but people in general! For young girls, it’s important to instill positive images in them as early and consistently as possible. We sometimes
underestimate what they see, let alone what they internalize. To provide resources as simple as a doll so they draw early connections with figures that look like them and more (including early socialization) truly speaks volumes.
What is so significant about a doll that you feel makes it such a powerful tool for developing a positive self-image and self-identity in young girls?
In a way, a doll is an imaginary “mini” version of a girl (and person). It taps into a girl’s creativity from styling their hair or attire. In some ways, the doll is a manifestation of what they want to look like and who they want to be. The biggest thing is one’s image sets root in a number of ways, including how we think, speak, act, and do. In setting a positive tone early, we can put girls in a position with something so simple to have an impact that is so strong.
At Diva and Dolls, you work with a wide range of empowered business and community-centered women. How important is it for you to give back and be a support system for the next generation of women?
Giving back is essential. Stewardship is essential. This is part of our charge regardless of our professional and community positioning. In addition to the dolls, I feel it is truly important for girls to see women making a difference and impact. We want them to aim high and dream about being the next professional and positive resource in their families, communities, and society. As one of the sayings goes, “What they’ll see is what they’ll be.” We must provide constructive influences to affirm their worth, then keep it going for
any little girl.
Ty’s hard work with Diva and Dolls continues. Since 2013, Fiyah Tyressa Ty and her partners have delivered thousands of dolls to young girls from various backgrounds and circumstances. In a year fraught with anxiety and insecurity, the work of Divas and Dolls carries an even greater significance. Now, more than ever, Fiyah Tyressa Ty and her team remain ready and motivated to bring dolls and hope to young girls everywhere.