Photos of Modified Christmas Elf Dolls
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A mom of two named Clare Tawell is doing everything in her power to make the holiday season more inclusive by modifying British-based Elves Behavin' Badly dolls for kids with disabilities. In her Etsy shop, BrightEars, parents can order a doll that has been customized to include medical equipment — like hearing aids, insulin pumps, cochlear implants, and feeding tubes — or to illustrate body differences.
According to her Etsy page, each doll is handmade to order, meaning there are various color options for hearing aids and parents can specifically note where their doll's facial difference is located.
"I became really disheartened when I couldn't find a doll or any toy with hearing aids."
In a recent interview, Clare shared that she started modifying dolls when she couldn't find any options for her 4-year-old daughter, Matilda, who is deaf. "I became really disheartened when I couldn't find a doll or any toy with hearing aids," she told Today. "It felt to me that society didn't deem her important and therefore she shouldn't be acknowledged."
Through her work, Clare is hoping to normalize the conversation surrounding diverse needs. "We still live in a world that puts great emphasis on 'being normal,' so if you have a physical/visible difference you are often made to feel abnormal," she explained. "To a child, this can really affect their self-confidence and esteem. When they go into a toy shop and see dolls with all 'normal' features it only strengthens the feeling of not belonging, or feeling like the odd one out. I want to change that."
"I would love for children in the future to be able to go into a shop and see dolls with hearing aids and cleft lips next to the regular dolls, because then it makes it normal, not different," she continued. "When people see these dolls, it can open up a dialogue and increase awareness and understanding of these differences."
Keep reading to see some of Clare's work. And FYI, parents, Clare also modifies standard baby dolls for those who want to go a different route.