Recently, a new trend is storming the industry that is introducing lines of dolls with disabilities that are giving little ones with health problems a toy they can identify with.
Supporters of campaigns pushing 'realistic' dolls argue that the provision of such toys normalizes conditions for youngsters by making them feel more accepted in society. And for parents who have long criticized the false physical perfection of plastic playthings like Barbie, this is most certainly a step in the right direction.
Because ultimately, Barbie is represented as the all-American girl but does she really represent the average girl in society? What about those young people with disabilities, of a different ethnicity or with a realistic body type?
The following 4 companies have considered all of this and are wonderfully committed to bringing greater diversity to playtime:
1. Hearts for Hearts Girls
Hearts for Hearts is inspired by real girls, launching a series of dolls, aiming to encourage multi-culturalism.
And the best part about it is that the purchase of each doll donates money to support in that area of the world. For example, a doll with Ethiopian origins could pay for malaria nets in Ethiopia, whilst an Indian one could provide a family with blankets.
The company spreads an absolutely wonderful message, all the while promoting the fact that we all stem from different ethnicities and corners of the globe - looking different is a part of that.
Makies has also responded to the cry out for diversity. The company uses 3D printing to create new toys, launching the world's first ever series of disabled dolls.
Currently, the series includes a doll with a facial birthmark, one with a hearing aid, and another with a cane but with time, the company hopes to expand to accommodate many more little ones and their disabilities.
Although we love Barbie, it's no contest that the doll line is grossly under-representing the average woman. After all, a real girl doesn't usually really have a stick thin body, nor platinum blonde hair or permanently arched feet, does she?
Company Lammily recognizes this, and in turn, has created a series of dolls with realistic human proportions of a 19-year-old woman!
In an attempt to prove that all natural bodies are in fact beautiful, the dolls also come with stickers showing stretch marks, acne, bruises and cellulite that can be placed anywhere on their bodies. After all, they are all a part of growing up aren't they?
The company's creator says:
"The ‘imperfect’ nature of it isn’t an issue. I feel it makes the doll more relatable.”
And clearly these children also think so:
4. Sew *ABLE*
All over the world, Sew *ABLE* dolls are being adopted by little ones with handicapped issues. From the dimples on their cute faces, to the complex prosthetics made specially for them, to detailed accessories such as wheelchairs and crutches, these dolls are really causing a stir.
Indeed, the more I think about it, the more I realize the need for diversity in the toy industry. No child is perfect, and they certainly don't look perfect either - so why should the playthings they identify with be so too?
Whether they specialize in offering dolls with different skin colours, realistic human proportions or with disabilities, I really hope that these wonderful companies continue to push for recognition.