Should I let my daughter cut her doll’s hair? I think so, and here’s why.

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Should I let my daughter cut off all her dolls hair

My daughter JJ asked if she could cut her doll’s hair. In the next split second, these were the thoughts that ran though my head.

On one hand I wanted to keep her doll looking ‘nice’.

I was concerned that the person who had recently given her the doll would be offended.

I worried that JJ would feel a sense of remorse when she wasn’t able to undo what she had done.

I wanted to instil in her a sense of care for her belongings.

I fretted that she may not like the results, and the doll would be deemed ‘ugly’ and no longer played with.

Mum, can I cut my dolls hair

On the other hand, I wanted JJ to feel empowered to care for and make decisions for her own toys.

I wanted to impress on my daughter that I felt that female looks aren’t everything: that appearance is just one aspect of a person; that being clever, funny and kind are characteristics that are just as (or more) important.

I wanted JJ to feel that her own hairstyle preference is just as valid as anyone else’s. I wanted to encourage the confidence for her dolls (and her) to be their own person, and make choices that may not follow along with the stereotype.

I wanted to provide her with an avenue to roleplay out scenarios that may concern her or that she may be facing.

Cutting dolls hair

JJ herself as quite short hair. It is very slow to grow, but whenever it does reach her shoulders, she always asks for it to be cut again. We’ve always commented how funky her short hair looks, and joked that her natural hair looks just like Rapunzel’s (in Tangled) after she’s had her hair cut.

So, do I want my daughter to believe that I think a doll with longer hair is more beautiful, or somehow ‘better’? Couldn’t a short hair cut on a doll look funky too? Were I to say no, would I be placing too much emphasis on looking after a toy that she has multiples of, and can be easily replaced if need be? Shouldn’t she be able to decide on the hair style of her own doll? Shouldn’t she be able to cut her dolls’ hair so that they look just like hers?

Cut her dolls hair short just like her own

When you look at it like that, I couldn’t really see any justification in saying no. And so, I said yes. And then when she brought out the second doll, I said yes again. And yes to the third. And when she brought out Rapunzel, I said yes again.

Cutting Rapunzels hair

I did draw two lines in the sand. Firstly, she wasn’t allowed to cut her sister’s doll’s hair, and secondly she wasn’t allowed to cut her own hair. (I explained she could have her hair cut anyway she wanted, but she couldn’t cut it herself.)

Besides this, she was free to cut any of her own dolls’ hair as much as she wished.

She spent the next half hour cutting, trimming, styling, and then cutting some more. We chatted away about this and that. JJ proudly showed off her dolls’ new hairstyles, and explained that they didn’t need to worry about their hair falling over their face while they played anymore.

And thus her belief in funky short hair was reaffirmed.

Cutting dolls hair

Should girls be allowed to cut their dolls hair

I would have been happy if our days play had ended there. But something a lit bit special happened next.

**To give you some background, Camp Quality (a children’s family cancer charity organisation in Australia) had visited JJ’s preschool a few months ago, and had talked about how some kids and adults are sick with an illness called cancer; these people have to take special medicine to make them well again; and that medicine causes their hair to fall out. JJ had lots of questions about it at the time, but hadn’t really brought the subject up again since.**

As JJ started to collect up the discarded locks of dolls’ hair, she ran to fetch a little baby doll that didn’t have any hair. She asked if we could use the cut hair to make a wig, because this little doll has cancer and has to take medicine that makes her hair fall out.

cut dolls hair

Oh sweet child, yes of course! Mummy now has to work out how to make a teeny tiny wig, but of course!

Making a wig for a sick doll

And so this opened the door to chatting about cancer. JJ wondered if the cancer medication tastes bad. “I think it would taste like snails. Ewww!” she said. We decided if we met anyone who had tasted it, we would ask them. We talked about how many wigs the real Rapunzel’s long hair could make. We talked about how wearing a wig might make someone feel a bit better if their hair feel out and they hadn’t wanted it to, particularly if they are a woman or a child. We chatted about how not every person who is bald is sick – some men are bald or shave their hair (like a few friends of ours). And we saved the cut hair for a future wig making project.

This all happened a few weeks ago now, and I thought it is interesting to note that JJ still plays with her (now funkier) dolls. Not necessarily every day, but then she didn’t play with them everyday before either. She doesn’t see them as ‘ugly’, or ‘damaged’. She thinks they are awesome. She’s just asked if she can have a haircut as well, because she wants her hair to be nice and short too. And so it doesn’t fall into her eyes when she plays.

xx Danya

dolls hair cut

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22 Comments


  1. Very, very interesting. I was wondering the other day actually when Punky would ask me to cut her dolls her. She is always asking me to tie it back in a ponytail so it's out of the way and I figure it's a matter of time and I was thinking about whether or not I would let her. I think I would after reading this.
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  2. Brilliant! I wrote a while back about how my daughter wanted to shave her hair and it was something that for us lay in allowing her to have ownership of her body, as well as a conversation about gender roles, but I LOVE that this simple topic led to a beautiful, empathetic discussion. (And my daughter's hair, too, looks like Rapunzels within twenty minutes of brushing it! GAH!)
    I would have never considered discussing cancer with preschoolers unless they had already had some experience/exposure, but now I'm seeing that focusing on the empathy side of the conversation can create some beautiful possibilities.
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    • Danya Banya

      Wow, just read your post – good on you for standing behind your daughter! What did she decide in the end? We’ve just cut JJ’s hair (at her request) up to her chin a week ago, and she’s asked for another hair cut since. But she hasn’t quite gone so far as to request a buzz cut (yet)…

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  3. This was an eye opening read.

    My Mom also did the same with me around the same age and allowed me to cut my dolls hair.

    I love how you talk about the sense of responsibility and ownership and how she was allowed to be free to make decisions and enjoy her play by making her own choices.

    I still remember very clearly this day in my childhood as it really meant something to me at the time, as I’m sure it will with your little girl too!

    I also love how open you have been about Cancer with her after her talk at school. It’s clearly made an impression on her and bless her cottons for applying that in her play and wanting to make a wig for her doll.

    It just shows what a thoughtful little girl you have.

    Thank you for sharing. When I get asked this question in the future, whenever that maybe with my children -this post will spring to my mind and I will probably too let my children cut their dolls hair.

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    • Danya Banya

      Thank you. That's so cool that you have that as an early memory, it must have triggered a strong emotion. Everyone wants to feel empowered, little kids especially so.

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  4. How very sweet! My girls have quite a few dolls with short and funky hair too, only they never asked permission to cut it, lol.
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    • Danya Banya

      Haha, better that they practise on their dolls then on themselves. 🙂

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  5. good for you!!

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  6. My kids haven't asked to do this, but I think I would ask them why they want to. Depending on the answer I think we'd talk it through – so no firm answer from me yet 🙂

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  7. Sara

    Awesome!! I'd never thought about this. I never cut my dolls hair when I was little, I wanted to keep them looking 'perfect'. So I imagine I wouldn't want the girls to cut their dolls either. But I think the message you're sending by letting her is much more important! I will have something to think about if they ever ask.

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  8. Love this!!

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  9. johegerty

    That's awesome Danya, I love the way you thought it through in the context of your daughter's personality and experience. I was always hacking off my dolls' hair then crying about it for weeks. Maybe I should have asked mum first!!
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    • Danya Banya

      Haha, then she could have talked you through it. I think lots of kids don't ask because they assume they'll be told no. We've worked really hard on encouraging my kids to ask first. I keep pointing out how many times I say yes, and that even when I say no, usually I just need to change one or two little things so that I can turn the situation around into a yes. 🙂

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  10. Debs

    And this is exactly why and how children learn through play! Look at all that was brought up and learnt through one simple little thing, that to be honest, had my daughter asked me, I might have just automatically discouraged her from doing. Just fabulous! I love that even asked you about it in the first place, that says a lot as well. Thanks for sharing as you've definitely given me some food for thought.

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    • Danya Banya

      I know, it's awesome isn't it Debs. Child-led and all that… 🙂

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  11. I Love it 🙂 For kids that are scared of the hairdressers and hair cuts, I let them cut a dolls hair.

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    • Danya Banya

      What a great idea Nathalie. We have no hair cut fear at our place, but (possibly) my daughter might be in two minds about whether short hair is cool, especially as she's just started a new school and is making lots of new friends. Hopefully if she has any concerns, she can role play them out with me and her (funky) dolls. 🙂

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  12. I let my kids cut their AG dolls hair all of the time;]But their scared to get their own hair cut ;[LOL!!!!

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  13. say it

    Oh god. Now my daughter has cut off dolls hair. The reason we bought it was because she wanted to do all that plaiting and combing.
    May be she has got satisfied with dolls and grown up some more. I do not know.
    In away it was most unexpected.
    And horrifying.
    But what can I say. Its her doll. So I said yes a d now the doll is bald… which she seemed to like.
    Well.
    Just had to google may be for support and landed here.
    Parenting is not that much fun. Sometimes.

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    • It’s confronting, isn’t it! But yes, it’s her doll. I’m really pleased to hear that she’s happy playing with it bald. I think that’s part of the fear – that kids will no longer want to play with it, but in my experience, they’re just as happy playing with their short-haired doll, and perhaps more so.

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