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Mom’s thoughtful post about dolls with disabilities shows why ‘representation matters’

Our beliefs are influenced by the things we see, and that also applies to seemingly mundane objects like toys.

Remember how, as little girls, we were completely enamored by our dolls? We look at them and think they’re so beautiful that we can’t help but aspire to look like them when we grow up.

Back in the day, all female dolls looked the same. They had shiny long locks, made-up faces, and slender bodies. Many girls—and even grown women—saw them as the “ideal,” a picture of perfection.

And according to one mom from Grand Rapids, Michigan, that’s where the problem lies.

Lindsay Filcik recently made an Instagram post about her daughter Ivy and a couple of her friends. Ivy, who has Down syndrome, got a doll that shares her features: a button nose, almond eyes, and straw-colored hair. In the post, the girl looked ecstatic while holding her lookalike doll.

Lindsay’s message was all about the importance of representation (special need / disabilities), not just in children’s toys but also in books, movies, and other things kids see.

“Every single human being deserves to see somebody who looks like them in movies, books, commercials, and toys. Unfortunately for far too long that has not been the case. People of all races, abilities, body types, genders, religions, etc. need to be represented in what we watch, read, and play with. Recently we are seeing steps to remedy this problem in the media and I appreciate that! Representation matters!” she began the post.

The word representation is usually associated with race, and while that’s important too, the concept encompasses other issues as well.

In this particular post, Lindsay referred to the representation of children with special need and disabilities. She said that a child who doesn’t see themselves represented might think they’re “abnormal” and “not worthy of being shown to the world.”

A lack of representation could also harm even those kids without disabilities, for they would grow up believing that everybody looked like them. That skewed worldview is “how racism and ableism can be perpetuated in our kids without us even realizing it,” according to Lindsay.

The doting mom also shared a photo of Ivy’s friend Eliza who has special need because of spina bifida. The girl is pictured posing with a doll that matches her from the dress to the forearm crutches, which the adorable kid calls “sticks.”

Ivy’s other friend Stella, who has spinal muscular atrophy, is photographed gazing lovingly at a doll like her who uses a wheelchair!

The girls clearly loved their mini-mes so much, and Lindsay asked her followers to show these brands that they appreciate these dolls for promoting inclusivity.

She also suggested other things that people can do to support the representation of children with disabilities.

“Buy inclusive books & toys like this for your able bodied, typical children. Let them play with toys that represent all types of humans!” Lindsay said.

So far, her viral post has gained over 21K likes. Its message resonated with all parents and even non-parents who finally understood just how crucial representation is.

“I’m ashamed I had never thought about it. I’m definitely going to change my habits and pray that evey single human being be represented. Thank you so much for raising awareness on this issue,” one person commented.

“Love this friend. Representation will always matter! Its why so many of us fight the good fight!” another said.

Lindsay is glad to know that many of them took her advice by heart.

“Several parents of children who don’t have disabilities told me they are adding a doll with a disability to their kids’ Christmas lists,” she told Good Morning America. “They had just never thought of it before.”

Help Lindsay spread her message by sharing this story!


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Jenna Breunig

Monday 7th of December 2020

I would encourage anyone curious about this to check out Lindsay Filcik's blog post about it!

She has a blog called "My Incredible Ivy" where she talks about raising her young daughter with Down syndrome. I've read a few articles there and they're lovely.

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