While I was never a girl who played with dolls — I was the type who sifted pennies through my fingers and made up stories about colored rocks — I came across this company while doing some Christmas shopping, and I’m very impressed. Your opinion of making dolls disabled may vary, but I applaud Sew Able for what appears to be an enormous amount of care and effort. Sew Able is a company that specializes in making dolls to reflect children who are typically not modeled in the toy market: amputees, wheelchair users, and children receiving chemo to name a few. When you purchase from them, part of the proceeds go to various hospitals. The website has a link listing where various dolls have been “adopted,” similar to the Cabbage Patch angle, which is interesting to see.
From the pictures on the website, these vinyl and cloth dolls appear to be of the same quality as the popular American Girl product line. They are 18 inches, which is standard size for many doll clothing lines, with blinking eyes and combable hair (if applicable). The difference is that their accessories include prosthetic legs for either above or below the knee, crutches or wheelchairs, or wigs or bandannas. (The company notes that prosthetics are best handled by children who know how to use them themselves.) You can also purchase doll physical therapy equipment. Also, the site has a section targeted towards boys, cheerfully not stereotyping dolls as a girl thing. Nice.
Lest you think that these dolls are merely medical, take a look around the rest of their site. Like the American Girl line, these dolls have entire furniture, clothing and accessory collections by theme: holiday, school, sports, and so forth. The clothes will fit American Girls as well as the Sew Able dolls. These kids have some active lives.
I like this move. We think nothing now of having dolls with different skin colors. Why not have dolls with different bodies also? (Of course, the case could be made that all dolls are disabled simply by virtue of being unable to move without a child’s hand behind them — and let’s not forget the debates over Barbie’s disproportionate leg size or her possible anorexia.) Maybe not all children with disabilities want to see dolls that look like they do — maybe they want a regular doll because real life is enough without a pretend disability too. But I think there are also a lot of kids who would feel better by seeing themselves represented. So, kudos to Sew Able for promoting an active, sensitive portrayal of kids with disabilities through dolls.