This Boy Asked His Dad For a Mermaid Doll And His Response Was Amazing

August 25th 2015

Laura Donovan

Mikki Willis, founder of production company Elevate, shared a heartwarming Facebook video on Friday about why he let his son get a mermaid doll for his birthday.

The video opens with Willis introducing his son Azai in the car. Willis explains that Azai recently received duplicate presents for his birthday, prompting them to go to the store and exchange one of the gifts for something else. Willis then reveals a mermaid doll, which he says Azai picked out at the toy store.


How would you feel if your son chose this??

Posted by Mikki Willis on Friday, August 21, 2015

"How do you think a dad feels when a son wants to get this?" Willis asks, holding up the doll.

"Yeah!" Azai shouts happily.

"Yeah!" Willis says enthusiastically. "That's how I feel."

Willis then focuses the camera on his other son and says, "Right Zuri? I let my boys choose their life."

"That's how mama and I are," Willis continues. "We just say whatever. We say yeah, choose it. Choose your expression, choose what you're into, choose your sexuality, choose whatever. You have my promise right now, both of you as we sit in this hot car in this parking lot, you have my promise forever to love you and accept you no matter what life you choose."

Azai begins to scream with joy, inspiring his father to do the same and laugh.

The video received more than 190,000 likes and nearly the same amount of shares on Facebook, and many commenters were very supportive of the message Willis gave to his children.

"I love this guys [sic] approach to raising kids," a top commenter wrote. "Let them never feel ashamed because they didn't go for the plastic gun or the GI Joe doll!!! Be proud they chose a Disney heroine and positive image for what a woman can be...Ariel is not only gorgeous..she also kicks ass..She went up against a big shark, a Sea-Witch, and even saved her all-powerful father from the Sea-Witch...Love the choice!"

Another commenter thanked Willis for making a positive impact on the world: "You and your children are changing this world, raising the vibration. Thank you."

Toys at Target.

Willis' viral video comes around the same time that Target announced that it would do away with gender-specific signs in kids’ toy departments and other sections of its U.S. stores.

This move was lauded by many on the Internet for fighting gender role stereotypes, but some consumers were displeased with the change. This prompted Facebook user Mike Melgaard to pose as a customer service rep with the name "AskForHelp" alongside the Target logo as his profile picture to respond to users who spoke out against the company's move. Pretending to be Target, Melgaard mocked those who threatened to stop supporting the business. This went on for more than 15 hours before Target caught on to Melgaard's scheme.

Melgaard told Adweek in an interview that he was happy about challenging discriminatory views on social media.

"I definitely side with Target and support their decision wholeheartedly," he said. "That being said, this was, for me, more about the laughs. I absolutely love satirical humor, and I think America could use a little more laughter."

Earlier this summer, Ohio resident Abi Bechtel gained a lot of traction online for tweeting this directly at Target:

Bechtel understands the importance of teaching kids it's OK to defy gender stereotypes and roles.

"People are talking about the boxes we put people in, especially kids,” Bechtel previously told ATTN:. "There’s so much we teach kids about what to do and how to be that is based on gender ... So much of what [my husband and I do] parents who are trying to raise kids to be feminist allies conscious of the way society talks about gender is un-teaching things they learned elsewhere. These are the conversations that happen in the car: why the kids make fun of the girl with the Star Wars book bag—why it has to be weird if a boy in your class wears pink shoe strings."