Challenging Beauty Standards, Breaking Barriers and Fostering Self-Acceptance

Step into a world of inclusivity and empowerment with Wild Little Society (WLS), a groundbreaking initiative founded by Sunaina Somu Divakar. Through their inclusive range of dolls, WLS aims to create a safe and accepting society where every child feels seen, valued, and embraced for their uniqueness. Join WLS in their inspiring journey to promote equality and acceptance, and be a part of a positive change for the next generation.

  1. How did the idea of creating dolls that represent diverse skin tones come about?
    When my son was born, I found myself eagerly exploring online stores to discover the variety of toys available in the market. It was the year 2020, a time when the world was grappling with the global pandemic and witnessing the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement. I came across a remarkable handmade doll brand created by a black family, which had gained Beyoncé’s support. This encounter sparked a thought within me—why did a country as diverse as India still have its toy shelves predominantly stocked with white dolls (95%), while brown dolls constituted only 5%? Whom were we truly catering to? Motivated by the desire to bridge this disparity, I embarked on a new venture called Wild Little Society.
  2. Can you share the inspiration behind the names Anya, Zaza, Maya, and Luna? Do they hold any special significance or meaning?
    The names Anya, Zaza, Maya, and Luna were chosen with the intention of being short and sweet, allowing for easy pronunciation. In selecting these names, I specifically aimed to avoid any religious associations. Therefore, after careful consideration, I settled on these four names.
  3. What has been the response from customers regarding the cultural representation in the dolls?
    The response and feedback we have received so far have been overwhelmingly positive. Through the exhibitions we have conducted, it has been a wonderful experience to personally meet people and hear their enthusiastic remarks about India finally embracing brown dolls. It is truly heartening to witness this shift and see the growing acceptance of diversity in toy choices.
  4. Can you share any personal experience that highlight the challenges faced by individuals who do not fit societal beauty standards?
    Social media and the media in general have a profound impact on our insecurities. Even without growing up with social media, I couldn’t escape the influence of commercials perpetuating harmful narratives. Each ad portrayed a dark-skinned girl lacking confidence, suggesting that she couldn’t find a suitable partner or work role until she used a fairness product that magically transformed her into a fair-skinned, confident person. Similarly, as someone with curly hair, I noticed commercials depicting girls like me as unhappy until they used a specific shampoo or hair oil that miraculously gave them straight, shiny black hair. The idea of a confident dark-skinned girl or a beautiful curly-haired girl was never entertained. Although we have made some progress in representation today, there is still a long way to go. The media falls short in providing diverse and inclusive portrayals of beauty and self-acceptance.
  5. What is one key message or value of your brand that you feel hasn’t been effectively communicated to your consumers ?
    While we’ve emphasized our pride in representing brown culture, one message that may not have reached our consumers effectively is our dedication to eco-friendliness. Since October 2022, we’ve taken significant steps to ensure our dolls comply with the ASTM F963-17 toy safety standard certification. This certification involves rigorous testing to ensure absolute safety for children during playtime. By prioritizing cultural representation and toy safety, we strive to provide an enriching and responsible play experience for children.
  6. How do you see your work and the movement you’re building making a lasting impact on future generations, specifically in terms of dismantling colourism and promoting a more inclusive society?
    In my opinion, colourism is a mindset that persists due to various factors, and one of them is the lack of representation. It is challenging for individuals to feel beautiful when they do not see enough positive portrayals of themselves. This realization drives my work, as I strive to change the narrative surrounding beauty. My mission is to show children that every shade of brown deserves recognition and appreciation. I firmly believe that diversity should be celebrated, and my goal is to empower young minds with the understanding that beauty knows no boundaries of skin tone.
  7. Looking ahead, what are your future plans and aspirations for your brand and the movement?
    Driven by my passion to empower children and help them feel beautiful, I embarked on the journey of creating these dolls. As a further endeavor, I have recently finished writing a children’s story book that promotes positive self-image. I am eagerly hoping that this book captures the attention of publishers and reaches a wider audience, enabling more children to embrace their unique beauty and cultivate a sense of self-worth.
  8. Which article featuring your unique idea holds the closest place in your heart?
    “WeTheMums” holds a special place in my heart for several reasons. What deeply touched me was the founder’s approach and the time taken to offer constructive feedback, showing genuine interest in helping me improve. This experience taught me valuable lessons and became one of my biggest takeaways as the founder of WLS. Furthermore, connecting with other female entrepreneurs has been a truly rewarding part of my journey. Through online interactions and in-person meetings, I have had the opportunity to network and form meaningful connections with like-minded women. These connections have been a constant source of inspiration and empowerment, enriching my entrepreneurial journey and providing a strong sense of community and support.
  9. In a country where the obsession with fair skin starts from a young age, how can parents and caregivers play a role in nurturing self-esteem and promoting a healthy body image among children?
    Communication plays a vital role in shaping a child’s self-image. Unfortunately, in our country, children are often judged for their appearance for being too dark, too thin, or constantly from birth, leading to negative effects on their self-esteem. As someone who personally experienced the negative impact of such conversations during my own upbringing, I understand the detrimental effects they can have on a child’s self-esteem. However, I am heartened to see that things are changing, and parents now have the opportunity to actively promote it. One powerful tool for achieving this is through reading. Mindful storybooks cover various topics, fostering positive values, self-acceptance, and embracing uniqueness. By selecting and reading such books to our children, we can instill positive values, encourage self-acceptance, and inspire them to embrace their uniqueness. Reading together not only strengthens the parent-child bond but also provides a safe space for children
  1. Can you share the fascinating global journey of Wild Little Society dolls, their adventures in Japan, the UK, Kenya to name a few, as they traverse different cultures and inspire young minds?
    Each of our dolls is accompanied by its own passport, which adds an extra layer of excitement for customers when they pick them up. This feature not only delights children but also instills a sense of responsibility in them. As a result, they often bring the dolls along on their own travels. When I first embarked on this venture, my vision was for these brown dolls to journey across the globe, embodying the true essence of a global Indian.