Yesterday the earth shifted on its axis. My oldest child posted a link to an article about the new Barbies on facebook and tagged me in the comments. Ever skeptical, I read the article, clicked a link to read another article, clicked on a video, and there I went down the rabbit hole.
Isn’t that what we all want, in the media, in the world around us? To feel seen and represented?
As it happens, yesterday, I also came across an article about Lego unveiling a figure that uses a wheelchair. I was reminded of how important it is for children to see themselves represented in the world around them, and that includes in the toys they play with.
If a child who uses a wheelchair has a toy that represents them, it enables them to express and explore their life experience through play. It also helps them feel seen and validated. If a child has a friend, or sibling, who uses a wheelchair having a toy that represents their friend is also meaningful.
Children want to look at a toy be able to say "It's just like me!" The "it's just like me!" feeling is particularly important to kids who rarely see themselves represented in the media or in available toys. And, as it turns out, there is an organization, Toy Like Me, that is working toward a better cultural representation of disabled kids world wide.
You may not be a fan of Barbie, and you may hate stepping on Legos when you walk across a room in the dark, but I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the fact that more kids are seeing themselves represented in the world, even as we work toward expanding the options so that every child can have a toy that brings a smile to their face as they say, “It’s just like me!”