Disability Doll Distaste

by Hoyden and Shaker Lauredhel of Hoyden About Town

Why are some people so resistant to the idea of dolls with disabilities?

The Times Online ran an article last week on dolls that look like children with Down syndrome, or dolls with wheelchairs or physiotherapy equipment, or dolls with prosthetic limbs or leg braces or guide dogs.

Despite the glaring obviousness that is the fact that dolls should come in all sorts, and the clear evidence that such dolls are enjoyed by children and useful in therapeutic situations, some people are freaked right out at the thought that not all dolls exhibit Stepford eugenic homogeneity.

Even a "psychologist" quoted in the Times Online article whined about how the dolls "emphasise" difference:
"Children who have disabilities, including children with Down's syndrome, tend to see themselves as 'like everyone else' and to offer a toy that 'looks like them' may only emphasize the difference."
I wonder whether the same psychologist would object so strenuously to dolls of colour? Dolls wearing clothing unlike that of most others in their environment? How about female dolls?

Disaboom talks about this article further:
She adds that, if a child has a temporary condition, such as a broken leg, which requires the use of a wheelchair, that child may feel an affiliation with Becky, who also needs a wheelchair. But those children who may have a lifelong condition such as cerebral palsy, which requires the long-term use of a wheelchair, "may wish to affiliate with a free-moving child and in fact see themselves as a normal, free-moving doll."

So let me get this straight…A child who looks different EVERY day doesn't realize? But a child who breaks their leg is welcome to play around with this little temporary fashion accessory if they please? IF children with disabilities wish to "affiliate themselves with a free-moving child" it's because they don't have positive models of how some in the world see them. Most recognize the importance of children of color to have access to dolls that resemble them. How is this different?
A person quoted in a Daily Mail article on the topic finds dolls with disabilities to be "disturbing and sinister", and commenters find them "grotesque", "sick and patronizing", and "disrespectful".

A commenter at Fibrofog states point blank that giving a child a doll with the facial features of Down syndrome (or with a wheelchair) is just like giving a child a doll resembling an alcoholic, or simulating a drug overdose. A few weeks ago we had a major television show, All Saints, saying that Down syndrome is the result of sibling incest; now children with Down syndromes are just like heroin addicts.

What next? How did we get to this place of hate? How do we get out?


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