When I was a young child, I was the only kid in my class to wear glasses, and I was constantly teased about the freckles covering my face and arms. When I received my first American Girl Doll catalog, for the first time in my life I felt a connection to a toy. Her name was “Molly”. Molly was the first doll I had ever seen that sported the same freckles and glasses, she looked just like me! For the first time in my life the features that made me unique were reflected back at me in a doll. My glasses and freckles were no longer weird, they were the features which connected me to Molly.
For a child to see a reflection of themselves in their toys is a wonderful thing, it can help tremendously with self-confidence and reassures the child of their value. Not only is it shaping the way a child sees themselves, but how others see them too. As the market becomes more inclusive, children across the world are able to find toys that reflect their own unique features. A new barbie doll features a prosthetic leg, Joss the American Girl doll wears a hearing aid, comics feature blind superheroes. Even some movies are joining in to offer more diversity as Toy Story 4 added a character featuring a cochlear implant. These toys and movies offer more than just something to play with or a source of entertainment, it offers reassurance that your child’s differences are something to be celebrated! Now more than ever, the stigma surrounding disabilities such as hearing loss are being broken down. Dolls and toys offer a great way to start the conversation with your children of what makes us different and why that’s okay.
While there is still much work to be done about this flor hearing loss, it is heartening to see we are moving in the right direction. Hopefully as time goes on, we will begin to see more representation in toys and media, but for now let’s celebrate the strides we have already made.