Amy Jandrisevits has learned to notice the kids with special needs, who won’t be able to find a doll that looks like them. While it may seem like a small consideration, Jandrisevits knows it can make a huge difference in the life of a child looking for acceptance.
If you take a blond-haired, blue-eyed child like Jandrisevits’ daughter to the store, finding a look-alike doll is easy. “But let’s imagine that your friend doesn’t look like her,” wrote Jandrisevits in Love What Matters. “Your friend has a limb difference. Or maybe she lived through the horrors of a house fire and her skin tells the story of that trauma. Actually, let’s pretend your friend’s cocoa-colored skin is a road map of scars where they cut tumors out of his body. His hair hasn’t grown back following months of chemotherapy and radiation, so he is bald. Do you see one like that on the shelves?”
Recognizing the fact that those children would not find dolls to look like them, Jandrisevits decided to act. “I am a doll maker. I make dolls for kids who will never see themselves on the store shelves,” she explained. “I work tirelessly to get dolls into the arms (and legs!) of the kids they belong to.” What started as a favor for a friend has turned into Jandrisevits’ non-profit, A Doll Like Me, which makes dolls for children across the country.
The dolls are anything but trivial to some of the kids who receive them, many of whom take their special dolls with them everywhere. As Jandrisevits wrote, “Parents often tell me how the comments have shifted from ‘what’s wrong with your daughter’ to ‘how cute that her doll looks just like her!’ That’s an entirely different message, isn’t it?”
In a culture that targets children with special needs for death in the womb, showing children who do have differences that they are recognized and accepted is all the more crucial. Jandrisevits does not take her work lightly, saying, “It is a privilege and an honor to be invited into lives filled with beauty, tragedy, joy, pain, pride, and raw emotion.”
You can learn more about A Doll Like Me and see amazing pictures of Jandrisevits’ work on Instagram.
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