Kids love toys for many different reasons, but one of the biggest connections they may feel towards a toy is when it resembles themselves — something that's especially important to kids like 8-year-old Mia from Massachusetts.
Mia has alopecia, an autoimmune skin disease which causes hair loss in some or all areas of the body, so it is rarer for her to find a doll that looks like her in the mainstream toy market. that's why it was so thrilling for Mia and her mother, Meredith Bailey, when they saw bald dolls prominently displayed at a local American Girl store.
Bailey took to Facebook to express what a happy moment it was for both her and her daughter:
"I have always been a loyal supporter of your company. I still have my Pleasant Company dolls from 1988 that my daughter now enjoys. I was so happy to start my daughter with her own collection. When she was 4 she was diagnosed with alopecia. This past Christmas [she] received a doll without hair and nothing has thrilled her more. She did ask at one point why they were not on display at the store. I did not have a good answer to give her. Yesterday, we made our annual birthday celebration with her best friend to the Natick store. On the second floor we hopped off the escalator and there in front of us was a display with doll[s] without hair! My daughter was ecstatic! Then we saw them in 2 more spots in the store! These dolls were not hidden in the back and had to be asked for. They were there for all to see, especially for my daughter who wondered why they were not out before. This may feel to your company to be 'no big deal,' but to little girls who may feel "alone" and so desperately want to see dolls that reflect their beauty — it means more than you know. I cried many happy tears yesterday. Thank you so much for including ALL children."
"We know that when a girl owns a doll that is a reflection of her, it provides a sense of connection and belonging. It's a responsibility we take very seriously and girls like Meredith's daughter inspire us every day."
Bailey's Facebook post has prompted many others to share their positive experiences with the American Girl dolls. One person wrote, "All 3 of my daughters still have [their] original dolls, stamped Pleasant Company. My oldest now has alopecia areata. She has considered buying this doll, even as an adult."
Another Facebook user wrote about how the dolls created a positive conservation with her daughter. "We saw them today prominently displayed in the Orlando store. My daughter asked about some of the various dolls (diabetes, ones with no hair, wheelchair, braces, crutches, etc.) It opened up a discussion about unique and special qualities of all girls."
At first, people might not consider the hair, skin color, shape or accessories of a doll to be that much of a big deal, but for children like Mia, it means the world to simply be represented. The world could definitely do with more progressive toy companies like American Doll.