Two-year-old Sophia was told she could pick out a “special prize” — anything she wants — after she successfully completed potty training.
She was thrilled, and of course, headed straight for the doll aisle when she walked into Target with her mom, Brandi Benner, on Friday afternoon. Scanning the aisles, Sophia passed a row of baby dolls and headed for the “big girl dolls.” One doll in particular caught her eye: a little black girl dressed in a white lab coat, wearing a stethoscope around her neck.
“When she picked [the doll] up and saw that she was a doctor it was game over,” Benner told CBS News. “She got so excited.”
“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! I want this one. I want this one,” she shouted.
Smiling, Benner picked up the doll, “Oh, absolutely.”
She still had some money left over, so she picked out a Jeep for her new doll to ride around in. Together, Sophia and her mother walked to the cash register to check out. As always, Sophia offered to “pay” for the items — and by pay, she means put the toys on the conveyer belt.
She was greeted by the cashier, who asked, “Are you going to a birthday party?”
Confused, Sophia ignored the question and continued to stare at her beloved prize.
Then the cashier pointed to the doll, whose name is Megan, and asked if she picked her out for a friend.
Benner spoke up, explaining to the cashier that Sophia was getting a reward for using the potty.
“I am not ashamed that’s how I did it, because it works,” joked Benner about using the doll as incentive for potty training.
The woman gave Benner a puzzled look and turned to Sophia and asked, “Are you sure this is the doll you want, honey?”
At that point, Benner recalls she was starting to feel protective of Sophia, hoping she wouldn’t understand why the woman was questioning her choice of doll. But just as she was about to speak up, Sophia interjected, “Yes, please!”
The cashier replied, “But she doesn’t look like you. We have lots of other dolls that look more like you.”
Sophia responded, “Yes, she does. She’s a doctor like I’m a doctor. And I’m a pretty girl and she’s a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? And see her stethoscope?” her mother said.
The cashier simply responded with an “Oh, that’s nice.” She finished ringing up the family and they were on her way. Sophia didn’t think twice about the exchange, unlike Benner.
The mother of two — Sophia, 2, and Isabelle, 7 months — wanted to share the story with her Facebook friends.
“This experience just confirmed my belief that we aren’t born with the idea that color matters. Skin comes in different colors just like hair and eyes and every shade is beautiful,” Benner wrote in a post that has since gone viral with more than 201,000 shares.
While Benner is happy people are spreading the message, she feels it’s sad that it had to be said in the first place.
“It’s sad that such a small act has become national news,” she said. “In a sense it shouldn’t be surprising that a kid of one color wanted a doll of another — that shouldn’t be such a huge thing.”
Fortunately, her daughter wasn’t fased by it.
“What if she had been older — like 7, 8 or 9?” Benner asked. “Then she would have experienced more of the world and been more aware of cultural ‘dos and don’ts,’ and maybe would have second guessed [herself]. She maybe wouldn’t have been so quick to stick up for herself.”
Benner just hopes her daughter keeps her spunky spirit, and her dream to become a doctor.
Sophia first learned the word “stethoscope” from the TV cartoon “Doc McStuffins.” And her pediatrician allows the little girl to play with the tools in her doctor bag, which led to her desire to work in medicine someday.
That’s why, to Sophia, the doll’s skin tone doesn’t matter — all that matters is that she helps people, just like Sophia wants to do.