It’s not everyday that we see teen shows tackling serious stuff, but popular TV sitcom “Girl Meets World” is about to take on some real-world issues like autism in its upcoming episodes. In one story development that will air this Friday (Sept 11), Farkle (one of the show’s main characters) thinks he has Asperger’s Syndrome– a form of autism that was recently redefined as high-functioning and falls within a very wide range of symptoms (or a spectrum) that affects more than 3.5 million Americans today. Disney seems committed to showing a great amount of care in getting this story right on every level given its potential impact on the audience, and they were even reported to have consulted with three top specialists in the field to ensure that. The episode aims to promote compassion, understanding and acceptance of individual differences and shows Farkle’s friends helping him research on Asperger’s in order to provide better support if his suspicions turn out to be true. With this, the show sends the message that real-life issues like autism can be faced with real friends.
Everyone’s favorite kids show, Sesame Street, has evolved from a childhood classic to a trail-blazer for inclusion, thanks to the introduction of its newest Muppet character. In April, the PBS show will celebrate the debut of Julia: the first Muppet with autism. Julia is described as a four year old who likes to sing, but who also does things differently because she has autism. As the prevalence of autism continues to grow, this is a very significant step in the right direction for one of the country’s most famous children’s shows. It is crucial that typically developing children are educated on and exposed to what autism is, so that they learn at a young age that respect and inclusion of their peers with autism is of the utmost importance.
The unique nature of autism is that it shows itself in endless forms and affects people in countless different ways. The depiction of Julia’s character is an example of only one individual girl who has autism, not the entire population on the autism spectrum. It is essential for children to understand that by knowing the character Julia, they are learning what one of the many unique cases of autism in the world would look like. In teaching children that Julia simply sees the world through a different lens, and goes about her day with a different manner of thinking and acting, the younger generation will grasp the concept that some people don’t fit into a standard box. More importantly, they will learn that when one of their peers does not fit into that standard box that’s ok. Hopefully, this understanding at a young age will blossom into a generation of leaders that not only accept but also value the unique manner in which a person with autism’s brain functions.
Everybody tells you that when you run a small business, you can’t be political. You can’t share anything that has a political undertone on Facebook or Instagram, and you certainly can’t make your blog a political rant. However, it is particularly frustrating when a certain topic is considered to be political, when to me it seems like a no-brainer that it should be a nonpartisan, just-try-to-be-good-humans issue. So today I am going to write about a just-try-to-be-good-humans issue that is very important to me, my family, and therefore LorettaRose LLC.
As many of you may know, our mission is to provide work opportunity to adults with disabilities through our business. Also, we are dedicated to teaching children to be accepting, loving, and respectful of their peers who may learn and grown differently through the stories that come with our MySibling dolls . This mission was inspired by my family’s experiences with my brother who has autism, and by being active in the Autism Awareness community for many years. But despite our efforts, and the efforts of many other families and individuals, there is still a major hurdle that we need to jump over. Loved ones of people with disabilities, and people with disabilities themselves, suffer from a lack of financial support and services from the government when they become older and enter into the adult world. It is often times scary to even think about the future, and what will happen when my parents are no longer with us. Government services being cut or financial support being decreased for adults with disabilities can instill a major fear of the future in many people. It is up to us as a society to try to do everything that we can to make the future seem a little bit brighter for the people we care about who need support.
For our readers that haven’t stalked me on social media yet, I maintain this fabulous blog from the beautiful city of Barcelona. I have been here for about two months and I am slowly but surely assimilating to the Catalan culture and language. Most importantly, I have learned that FC Barcelona is much more than just a football club; it’s a family, a feeling, a lifestyle. This passion and love for the club, as well as the country that it represents, was something that I experienced to the fullest on Wednesday night when Barcelona took on Paris SG. Wednesday night’s game was the second of a two-game series to determine which club would move on in the Champions League and which would be eliminated. Since Barcelona had shockingly lost the first game 0-4, in order to not be eliminated they needed to defy the impossible and win with a score of at least 5-0. Despite the unachievable nature of the task at hand, the stadium was packed, the fans had faith, and the players started the game strong and determined.
I wasn’t at the stadium, but I promise you I could feel the emotion from my couch. Fast forward to the final minutes of the game, Barcelona had fought well but with a score of only 4-1 there wasn’t much hope of scoring the necessary 6th goal to save themselves from elimination. Impossible. I went back to my beloved Netflix. To be honest I was just trying to gather enough information to be able to convince my boyfriend I had watched the game when he got home from the stadium. Then all of a sudden the bar across the street from my bedroom window erupts in celebration. Hold tight Netflix, something exciting is happening. By what seemed like divine intervention, the scoreboard had changed from 4-1 to 6-1 as I was enjoying watching The Crown. Within a blink of an eye the outcome of the game changed from an “oh, well close but no cigar” to the most unbelievable comeback in European football history. Now I admit that a few months ago I probably wouldn’t have cared about or even understood the significance of this sporting event, but I can honestly say that I was quite moved to see a group of young men achieve the seemingly impossible. It was also particularly moving to see on TV the reactions of the fans when the final goal was scored. There was a wild explosion of pure emotion, shock, happiness, and celebration, that could only have come from a group of people that were truly passionate about their club and the sport of football.
As an American who thinks of a very different sport when I hear the word “football”, it is hard for me to grasp the magnitude of joy that a FC Barcelona fan must have felt in that moment when the winning goal was scored. It makes me happy to try to imagine that die-hard 7 year old fan who is now captivated by football and will love the sport for the rest of his life because of the experience he had at Wednesday night’s game. This lifelong love and passion for sports is what we hope to teach children through our very own My Pal for Soccer doll and booklet, so seeing it come to life on the faces of young Barcelona fans this week was truly inspiring.
We have some exciting news to share: My Pal for First Eucharist is back! This might seem like a major let down to our non-Catholic readers, but for us here at My Sibling and My Pal dolls it is a character that is very near to our hearts. Not only because we are practicing Catholics, but also because My Pal for First Eucharist was the first My Pal character ever created by our founder, Loretta Boronat. Before starting the business that we have today, Loretta used her fabulous sewing skills to make First Eucharist dresses and veils for little girls as well as miniature versions of their special day attire for American Girl dolls. From there, her wheels continued to turn and she wrote a children’s prayer booklet to go with each doll outfit. Long story short, to not outline the ten year very complex thought process of my mother, Loretta eventually created a diverse collection of characters and educational booklets about a variety of topics. Our characters today range from baseball to autism awareness to going green, but it is always cool to look back on the years and remember how it all began.We are especially excited to be bringing back our first character now that we have established ourselves as a mainly boy doll company. Since we had managed to design and produce some stylish suits to sell separately for our boy dolls, we thought it was a no-brainer to bring back our First Eucharist character in some sweet threads. The First Eucharist can be a very special event in a child’s life, but when it comes to gifts and commemorating the day, there always seems to be more options available for girls. When Loretta was making matching doll First Eucharist dresses and veils almost two decades ago, the idea of making a version for boys was not nearly as popular as it is now in 2017. We are truly delighted to be able to offer a product to young boys that could one day serve as a beloved keepsake of their special day.
As Toy Fair, New York 2017 comes to a close, the TOTY (Toy Of The Year) awards are presented to outstanding new toys in various categories. This year, the TOTY award for action figures was won by Mattel for its DC Superhero Girls . The collection of action figures, that is composed of eight female superheroes, was designed to encourage young girls to be strong and powerful. Of course Wonder Woman and Catwoman have been around for ages, but to be quite frank they’ve always been sprinkled in with the male superheroes just to make things a bit more interesting, if you catch my drift. The DC Superhero Girls, on the other hand, shine the spotlight on female strength, courage, and overall awesomeness. With this collection of action figures on the shelf, perhaps a seed will be planted in the young minds of boys and girls that will inspire them to think of males and females as equals in their ability to do badass stuff.
In another great display of girl power, the TOTY award for dolls was presented to Barbie Fashionistas from Mattel. This line of Barbie dolls is embracing more realistic body types and diversity by offering dolls in various shapes, sizes, and skin tones. The collection includes dolls with curvy, petite, and tall body shapes, as well as the original (physically impossible to be human) Barbie body shape. Since real women come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, it is about time that the dolls that our youth play with convey that every variation of the human figure is beautiful in its own unique way. This not only teaches children to love themselves and their own physical appearance, but also that of their peers. The simple experience of exposure to diversity through play as a child could lay the groundwork for our youth to grow into the most accepting and open minded generation of people the world has ever seen...
It’s happening. After years of listening to the pleas of its loyal fans and collectors, Mattel is launching a new line of American Girl dolls that includes the company’s first-ever boy doll. Here at LorettaRose LLC , we have been selling our My Sibling and My Pal boy dolls since 2007, so seeing the news break was a bit of a punch in the stomach at first. To put things in perspective: in the ocean of the doll industry, American Girl is the whale and we are that crazy looking fish with a light bulb growing out of its head that lives in the abyss. You know, that one they always showed in your high school biology class videos? Once we calmed down, we realized that we don’t give ourselves enough credit. American Girl is actually late to the boy doll party because we have been crushing the dance floor here for almost 10 years. If anything, this new launch validates what we have been doing all along, and gives us even more motivation to continue to succeed. In other words, all the people who told us that there would never be a big enough demand for boy dolls were quite mistaken.
We think what American Girl and Mattel are doing is awesome. This new line not only includes a boy doll, but also a strong representation of diversity, as well. To see a massive company like Mattel move in this direction is encouraging for the human race in general. The games and toys giant is finally catching on to the concepts of diversity, inclusion, and gender stereotype changes that we have been promoting through our boy dolls for the last several years. It inspires us to see the overwhelmingly positive media response to what everyone told my mother, our founder, was a crazy idea when she started our company almost a decade ago. We are truly excited to see what the future holds for us, as a small boy doll company, in a world where Mattel thinks it’s a great idea, too!
We take the representation of different ethnicities in our My Sibling and My Pal doll lines very seriously, but for slightly different reasons than our friends at Naturally Perfect Dolls who we wrote about in our previous post . Our goal is to teach children to be accepting of others who may learn or act differently, and that same philosophy extends into how we feel about look-alike dolls. We sell mainly boy dolls, which is even more of a niche market, but it turns out there are a ton of boys who want a doll. These little guys also tend to be desperately jealous of their sister’s American Girl Doll. We get asked daily about certain hair, eye, and skin color combinations that we have available, so that parents can buy a doll that looks just like their son. Many parents seem to think that the lookalike factor is the most important when choosing a doll for their child. That is where we slightly disagree, but where we think that balanced representation of all races in dolls is the most impactful on our youth.
Giving children mini-me dolls can be fun and a significant self-esteem booster in most cases. On the other hand, if the look-alike aspect is given too much significance, our youth will not be given the opportunity to see the beauty in or love dolls that may look different. This type of sheltered childhood experience might have an impact on how a child sees real people of other races and ethnicities. I mean, I am not a child psychologist, but I do believe that teaching our children to love people who look different than they do is just as important as teaching our children to love themselves. So, your kid has light skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair? Why not buy them a doll with curly black hair and dark skin? And then buy them another one with medium skin and brown hair? And then buy them three more dolls and a whole bunch of accessories too, eh? Buy five of our dolls, we promise your kid will love them and create world peace. Sorry, that was the devil on my left shoulder again.
All jokes aside, there is a very disappointing shortage of dolls for young girls of color that accurately represent their appearance. The very features that make them beautiful and unique are diminished in many of the dark-skinned dolls that are made by major toy companies. We too, as a doll company that takes diversity very seriously, do not have a different face or hair texture for our darker-skinned dolls. However, we have been generally satisfied with our dark-skinned boy doll’s hair, and our customers have taken notice. With our success selling our African American boy doll , we were discouraged by the lack of interest in our African American girl doll. Now, thanks to Upworthy and our cool aunt that keeps us informed, we are realizing that our black girl doll’s hair being long, shiny, and wavy could be a significant flaw when it comes to appealing to young African American girls who love their natural hair. With Naturally Perfect Dolls coming onto the scene, we definitely need to step up our hair game. Stay tuned!
The author’s twins, one boy and one girl, start playing in a gendered manner at one year of age. A large study of twins has helped prove that gender play is typically half inherited and half socially determined, but due to the influence of media and marketing, parents tend to give gender disproportionate weight over things such as temperament. The author makes the attempt to break her children out of that cycle because she feels that it allows children to have fuller emotional abilities. Several years later, she finds her efforts are partially successful with her twins. They both have some predilection toward toys that appeal to them in a stereotypical manner, but they also have interests that are non-stereotypical, which satisfies the author.
Read the full article here:
What My Twins Taught Me About Gender Stereotypes