The diminutive doctor, who stars in the Disney Junior TV show of the same name, is an African American girl who wears a lab coat and heals sick toys with a stethoscope. Black women, who make up less than two percent of physicians nationwide, are thrilled that their daughters can now proudly proclaim they want to grow up and be just like Doc McStuffins instead of, say, Hannah Montana. The show's creator, Chris Nee, told KCRW that she's thrilled about the response but never thought much about the color of McStuffins' skin:
"The girl was part of what I always wanted for the show. I was excited to create a strong female role model. Disney came to me very early on, in one of our first conversations, and asked if it was OK if she was African-American. And I thought that was a fantastic choice."
Another Disney exec said she didn't realize they "would touch that powerful a chord when it came to African-American women doctors." But they have — and the show clearly resonates with tons of other families, too: "Doc McStuffins" was renewed last week for a second season. Awesome.
We wonder what the doc would have to say about a famous study of preschoolers from the '70s which showed that even little kids think of doctors as men and nurses as women. Dr. Danielle Ofri referenced the research in a piece for the New York Times about whether we'll ever stop thinking "M.D." stands for "Manly Dude." Things are changing, she thinks:
Perhaps change simply takes longer than we expect. My own children were born almost two decades after those college freshmen were born. We've had three pediatricians over the years, and all were women. In their day care center - associated with the hospital - almost every child's mother was a doctor.
One day, my daughter came home reporting an amazing discovery. "Jacob's father is a doctor too," she exclaimed. "Just like Jacob's mother!" In her world, it simply had never dawned on her that "doctor" could equal "man." If that 1979 preschooler study were repeated on her generation, I suspect the results would be different.
The children are the future.