With their smiling faces, beautiful eyes, adorable features and cute dresses, dolls have always been a child's dream. Yet, it is no secret that they aren't the best at visually representing the kids of today. Especially those little ones with disabilities, of which there are over 150 million worldwide.
After all, have you ever seen a Barbie in a wheelchair or with a broken leg? A blind doll with a guide dog or a princess with a hearing aid?
For years, many parents have been asking why such a large proportion of youngsters should be excluded by an industry that exists for their entertainment.
And now, thankfully, a Facebook campaign has started something phenomenally important with a view to bring greater diversity to playtime. Above all, the plan is to set out to change the way in which the toy industry looks at dolls.
Determined parents created the hashtag #ToyLikeMe in an attempt to highlight the need to adapt to those youngsters living with disabilities. With the view to reflect disability positively, people all over the world began sharing examples of dolls that mirrored the reality of their little owners.
Check out some of the lovingly created entries below:
A selection of dolls such as these have been uploaded onto the campaign's website, showcasing some of the best examples of disabled dolls.
Below is another example by 9-year-old Naomi, who performed surgery on her favorite ladies, making a cast and a prosthetic leg out of a pen. The little girl has been an above-the-knee amputee since she was 10-months-old.
And thankfully, the efforts of the campaign have definitely paid off. A custom company called Makies, that uses 3D printing to create new toys, has responded to the gaping hole in the market for realistic dolls and has launched the world's first ever series of disabled dolls. Take a look!
So far, only three dolls have been released - one sporting a facial birthmark, one with a hearing aid, and another with a cane.
Speaking of the new project, MakieLab spoke of the amazing response to the series and their dedication to the cause. They said:
"We love to make that stuff happen [...] Toy Like Me presented us with a wonderful opportunity at a great time, so we put what we had been doing on hold and jumped in with both feet."
Willing to expand its offerings and to cover a larger scope of disabilities, Makies is eager to "chat with folks who are interested and take orders for the new range." The communications director says:
"Most requests are technically possible and we've just made a start [...] We're a very small company, and future development work will largely be driven by customer demand. There's been an amazing response so far, we're listening and will continue to develop and improve the range.”
Makies hopes that with time, parents will be able to request dolls for their children with the same birthmark or disability. Not only will this encourage physical abnormalities to seen in a more positive light, but it will also allow little ones to feel more accepted. Despite being slightly different, disabled children are still children - so why should they be left out?
Yet, the people behind #ToyLikeMe aren't stopping there. In fact, they are pushing their demands even further, asking larger toy manufacturers why they haven't also responded to them. Writing on their Facebook page, the parents expressed their determination:
"It’s not over yet! Toy Like Me won't rest. If small companies like Makies can respond, what are the big girls and boys doing? Come on LEGO, Playmobil, Mattell Barbie 770,000 UK children with disabilities (and millions more beyond) need positive toy box representation now!"
Personally, I can't wait to see a greater range of variety on the toy market. The fact that parents will be able to request dolls for their children with the same birthmark or disability is a wonderful thing.
Indeed, these dolls are an inspirational step forward in accommodating the needs of less-fortunate youngsters all over the world.
Keep up the good work!