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It’s no secret that children’s dolls aren’t particularly diverse. Most skin tones are grossly underrepresented, as are various body types and even hair colors.
In the same vein, if you’re the parent of a child with disabilities, it’s almost impossible to find a doll that your child will be able to identify with. But one company is trying to change that.
Toy Like Me began as a Facebook campaign started by parents of children with disabilities who were tired of the same old choices. Many parents started posting photos of dolls with disabilities that their kids had made for themselves on the group’s Facebook page.
The parents have been lobbying toy companies on Facebook to create toys for disabled children. Finally, one company has decided to step up to the plate. Makies toy company specializes in customized, 3D-printed dolls. The company had been considering doing something like this for a while before Toy Like Me got in touch.
“We can move very fast to experiment and prototype, and the customization possibilities with 3D printing are head-swimming,” Jen Bolton, the communications director at MakieLab, told the Daily Dot in an email.
“Makies are create-your-own dolls that kids and their parents can design and order at mymakie.com, and each Makie doll is unique and personal, so we’ve always received quite a few special requests.”
“We love to make that stuff happen,” she added. “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.”
So far, Makies has produced three dolls: one with a facial birthmark, one with a hearing aid, and one with a cane.
The company is continuing to expand its offerings, and Bolton says they’re “happy to chat with folks who are interested and take orders for the new range.”
While they may not be able to accommodate every request for every single type of disability, they’re certainly willing to try.
“Most requests are technically possible and we’ve just made a start,” Bolton said. “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.”
The people behind Toy Like Me are thrilled, if the Facebook page is any indication. But they’re still urging other toy companies to follow Makies’ lead.
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.