All mothers can’t wait to give their daughters their first dolls. And all daughters are ecstatic to get a doll they can play with.
But what if your little girl doesn’t look anything like their doll? What happens then?
Clare Tawell, a 39-year-old mother of two girls, had this dilemma for her four-year-old daughter, Matilda. You see, Matilda was diagnosed with severe bilateral hearing loss when she was still six weeks old. She’s deaf in both ears and had to wear hearing aids.
Which toy shop or department store have you ever seen a girl’s doll with a hearing aid on her ears?
And Clare couldn’t find any either.
So she decided to make a doll for Matilda that she could relate to. She bought a doll at a toy shop and created a glittery pink hearing aid so it’ll match Matilda’s.
“I’m not a crafty person at all – I have no design background – so it took three attempts to get right,” Clare said.
And when Clare and her husband gave Matilda her customized doll, she was ecstatic!
“When I finally did give it to Matilda though, she loved it. She was giggling away and jumping up and down,” Clare recalled. “She was just over 18 months old then, so still tiny, but she pointed to the hearing aid on the doll and then to her own as if to say, ‘That looks like me.’ I bawled my eyes out. It makes me emotional just thinking about it.”
Clare was so proud of the doll work that she showed it to some of her mom friends who were also raising daughters with hearing challenges.
And they all wanted one for their daughters!
She created the dolls for her friends and soon, word spread around about it because she got messages from moms she’s never met.
She’s realized so many little girls needed these inclusive dolls and set up an Etsy shop.
And she expanded her doll collection.
She also sold dolls with feeding tubes, stoma bags, and cleft lips. And it wasn’t just moms and their daughters who needed the dolls.
“I’ve had hospitals and schools want to use them to help explain certain illnesses, or even parents wanting to use them to teach their children about their own condition and help them to understand it,” Clare shared.
Clare makes the dolls herself and she priced it at £25 to £30 ($33 to $39) to cover the costs.
“I never want money to be an obstacle for parents. I’m not doing this to make money – I’m doing it because I know what it’s like to be them and to feel as if society is ignoring your child,” Clare explained.
And these dolls really transformed the little girls.
Ceri Evans said her daughter, Heidi, changed when she got the doll with a hearing aid. Ceri said it gave Heidi newfound confidence.
“She looks like me and she has the same hearing aid,” Heidi said when she got her doll.
Clare was just so happy that she was able to provide this much happiness to these little girls.
“When I couldn’t find any dolls that came with hearing aids, I felt really deflated. To me, it was like society was saying Matilda wasn’t important enough to be recognized,” Claire shared. “Now I want to empower children and give them the confidence that comes with seeing themselves represented.”
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