Growing up, the kinds of toys you play with can make all the difference. When I was a child, I always felt like the way I looked was wrong because there were no dolls, cartoon characters, or actresses that looked like me. Thankfully, things are changing. Bigger companies like Mattel are now producing dolls in different shapes, genders, and skin tones.
But gaps in the market still exist, especially for kids with special needs, physical disabilities, and skin disorders. That's where Amy Jandrisevits comes in. With her A Doll Like Me line, Amy makes it her personal mission to make custom dolls for kids who typically don't see themselves on store shelves. For some of these children, seeing themselves in human likeness is life-changing.
As a former pediatric oncology social worker, Amy used play therapy in order to help children adjust to situations that felt out of their control. This was difficult to do when none of the dolls she had access to looked like the children she worked with.
"Play therapy is how kids work through all of that, and dolls are an integral part of the process," Amy says. "For someone who doesn't have the privilege of seeing him or herself in the places that matter, a doll that looks like them can be so validating."
Amy is doing her part to make sure every child – ones with limb differences, albinism, cancer, birthmarks, scars, burns – feels valued. Her goal is to normalize, represent, and validate, and at a very basic level, to offer something that is soft and cuddly and provides comfort when a child needs it most.
To read more of Chadni G.'s article, please click here.