New Dolls on the Block

Emily Keegin

CONTROVERSIAL: Toymakers argue their dolls normalize disability, but some parents say they pigeonhole kids

Ever since Barbie and her reality-defying curves stepped into the playhouse, parents have complained that dolls promote an unattainable image of beauty. It's a particularly piquant point for Lexington, South Carolina mother Mary Ann Perry, whose 23-year-old daughter Valerie lives with Down Syndrome. "Dolls represent real people in the imagination of a young person," Perry says. "I don't want Valerie to think she has to be conventionally beautiful to be loved." So when Valerie asked for a doll at Christmas, her mother bypassed buxom Barbie and purchased Elizabeth (retail price: $175) from S.C.-based retailer Downi Creations. Featuring 13 physical characteristics of...

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