One mother's powerful message about representation in children's toys is going viral. "REPRESENTATION MATTERS!" writes Lindsay Filcik on Instagram. She shared three images of young girls playing with dolls that shared similar disabilities to theirs. "I'm sharing about something that has become incredibly important to me," she continues. "Representation. Every single human being deserves to see somebody who looks like them in movies, books, commercials, and toys. Unfortunately for far too long that has not been the case. People of all races, abilities, body types, genders, religions, etc. need to be represented in what we watch, read, and play with. Recently we are seeing steps to remedy this problem in the media and I appreciate that! Representation matters!"
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Filcik goes on to explain how if children are only ever shown able-bodied toys, they might internalize the message that there's something wrong with having a disability. She argues that it's time to correct that messaging by choosing inclusive toys and media. "Look at these beautiful girls," she writes of the children featured in her post. "Each one is represented by a doll that looks like them. Ivy has Down syndrome. Her doll looks just like her with almond shaped eyes and a button nose! Our friend Eliza has Spina Bifida. Her doll has forearm crutches (or sticks as Eliza says) & AFOs just like her! Our friend Stella has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Her doll has a wheelchair just like her! Representation matters!" In all three pictures, the girls look thrilled to be playing with a doll that looks like them. "What can you do? Let brands know when you appreciate their inclusivity and when you believe they need to make a change. Buy inclusive books & toys like this for your able bodied, typical children. Let them play with toys that represent all types of humans! Representation matters!" Parents around the world agree. The post has over 20,000 likes and hundreds of comments. Many agreed with Filcik's message, sharing their own experiences finding toys for their children. Others thanked her for sharing her perspective. "I'm ashamed I had never thought about it," one woman commented. "I'm definitely going to change my habits and pray that every single human being be represented. Thank you so much for raising awareness on this issue. " We agree! There's power in offering children a chance to see themselves reflected in media and toys. We hope more companies take note of messages like Filcik's and start producing more inclusive toys, books, and media.