A few weeks ago, I blogged about "reborn" dolls--store-bought dolls modified to look more lifelike by a rather disturbed but growing number of "enthusiasts."
On a slightly related note, a friend recently e-mailed me a link to HEST of Europe, who are finally (yay!) bringing their line of popular Down Syndrome dolls to the U.S.
I'm not sure what is more disturbing, the fact that these dolls look like Cabbage Patch Kids with a little too much stuffing or the atrocious outfits they've been fitted with?
The whole thing just reeks of a bad joke: Nappy-headed Tatjana (see above) informs us "roller-blading & meeting new friends are the things to do in Eastern Europe" (second only to hoarding bread and avoiding organ thieves) while delighfully dowdy Francesca tells us that "flowers and animals is what I enjoy painting in Northern Europe." Are we to assume Frannie's poor grammar is a result of her disability or ignorance on the part of the website designer?
Now, I know some of you are thinking, "Dan, it's good that they make Down Syndrome dolls. Every kid should have toys that reflect who they are and that tell them they are normal." I don't neccessarily disagree, but doesn't having a "special" doll for "special" kids single them out even more?
Plus, consumer research has proven time and again that, given the choice, most minority kids want dolls that represent the mainstream. They want Barbie, not black Barbie or "ethnic" Barbie or differently-abled Barbie (not that most white, Christian able-bodied girls look like Barbie, either). We're talking about lifeless husks of plastic and synthetic hair, either way. At some point, the kids are going to have to use their imagination.
Should I even mention Benny, the Anatomical Teddy? He's been carefully eviscerated to allow you to demonstrate a variety of illnesses and procedures to your children or young patients--everything from urinary tract infections and tracheotomies to appendectomies and pancreatic cancer. Take that, Teddy Ruxpin!
*The less said about these, the better.