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Toys That Look Just Like You!

Posted on February 18, 2019 by All In

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Representation matters. Athena Stevens sums it up beautifully in this thoughtful article “Why Representation in Toys for Disabled Children Is Crucial”:

"Children need toys that reflect themselves and the diversity of the world around them. Toys teach children from a very young age what “normal” is. Just about any little girl wants a doll that looks just like her. And the reason she wants this is not egotism or selfishness. That little girl needs to know she is seen by the world around her. When you make a doll that goes beyond the traditional blonde hair, blue eyes, standard Barbie-like proportions, and create something a child actually can relate to, it tells the child I see you, you are important, you were worth breaking the mould for."
Athena Stevens
Writer, Actress, Spokeperson for UK's Women's Equality Party
A more inclusive Barbie 2019 Fashionista lineup. Source: Mattel

Two New Barbies

 

Mattel is the latest big brand joining this movement, adding two new Barbies to their 2019 Fashionista collection – one in a wheelchair and another with a prosthetic leg.

 

The new Barbie with a prosthetic limb was created in collaboration with Jordan Reeves, who was born without a left forearm and is an active public speaker on inclusivity for those with physical disabilities. She is the co-founder of Born Just Right, a non-profit which aims to build creative solutions that help kids with disabilities live a more enjoyable life.

 

Hear more from this bubbly young activist in her TED talk:

 

Mattel also partnered with wheelchair experts and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital to design the new wheelchair, one of Barbie’s most requested accessories to date.

 

"As a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them into our fashion doll line to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion"
Mattel

#ToyLikeMe and Other Brands

 

But Barbies aren’t the first toys to hop on the bandwagon of inclusivity.

#ToyLikeMe, a movement which has been active since 2015, has sparked huge changes in major brands like Lego which released a beanie-wearing child figure using a wheelchair in response to the movement’s Change.org petition. The growing movement speaks to the need and benefits of having more diversity in the toy universe.

 

Another amazing toymaker who customizes each doll according to each owner is “A Doll Like Me”. Its founder, Amy Jandrisevits, saw the need for such toys through her work as a social worker in the the pediatric oncology unit and started making dolls tailored to each child’s unique characteristics. Check out this Inspire More article to see some of her dolls and their happy owners.

 

If you’re looking for more of such brands and products, this list of 15 books, games and toys that feature people with disabilities to point you in the right direction.

 

Here’s to more movers and shakers in the toy industry making this world an all-inclusive place for all of us – kids and overgrown kids alike!

 

 

Featured image from ToyLikeMe, used with permission. 

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