Images of a Tinkerbell doll with bright pink cochlear implants have gone viral.
The pictures have been shared on Facebook thousands of times, with a number of parents asking where they can get them.
The dolls have been created by #ToyLikeMe as thank-you gifts for people who backed a recent crowd fund to build a website that aims to end the cultural marginalisation of 150 million disabled children who rarely see themselves represented in toys.
“As someone who had grown up wearing hearing aids, I remembered firsthand how it felt to be a child who never saw themselves represented by the mainstream and what that can do to a child with a disability’s self esteem,” said founder Rebecca Atkinson.
Atkinson set up the #ToyLikeMe campaign in April 2015 to lobby the global toy industry to include representations of disability in their products. The campaign has already amassed over 33k followers in less than year and has attracted the support of many high profile individuals, including comedy genius Stephen Merchant and Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson.
“The Tinkerbell dolls have particularly resonated with parents,” explains Atkinson.
“When you marry a mainstream figure such as Tinkerbell with the minority experience of wearing a cochlear implant, you create a very powerful image that speak volumes to children about inclusion. The fact that something as simple as creating a model cochlear implant for a Disney figure shows the depth of the need for this kids to be included in the mainstream. These consumers are hungry because the toy market has never fed them before.”
Whist only a handful of Tinkerbell dolls have been made to date, #ToyLikeMe are planning to create further toy makeovers of Tinkerbell which will go on auction to the public in the coming months.
Until then, the group has decided to share their secrets with parents wanting to make their own:
“We enhance them with a model cochlear implant. But it’s important to stress that this is a kitchen table production, not large scale manufacturing with Disney. If anyone is feeling crafty, you can always create your own. We use FiMo, string, and spray painted popper studs!”