Lindsay Filcik's daughter Ivy has Down syndrome. When she saw a doll with the same eyes as her daughter's, she wanted to share the reaffirming moment with the world.
The first time Lindsay Filcik saw a doll with almond-shaped eyes like her daughter's, she cried. That is because her daughter was born with Down syndrome and rarely gets the representation she deserves in movies, cartoons, or toys. Growing up without seeing yourself in these things can be an isolating experience. Therefore, Filcik is so incredibly determined to ensure her daughter is surrounded by positive representations of herself. From initially being told to consider terminating her pregnancy, to finally finding friends who also have disabilities, there is no doubt her two-year-old daughter Ivy is being raised in a loving household that truly understands her needs.
Ivy's Trisomy 21 diagnosis was confirmed when Filcik was 24 weeks pregnant. "At first I was devastated," she said in an interview with CafeMom. "I did not have a lot of experience with people with Down syndrome and I bought into the lies society tells." However, after she set up an account on Instagram and interacted with other parents of children with disabilities, she found the guidance she needed. Now, she has a popular account on the platform as well. She shared, "I became very vocal on that platform about how wonderful life with Ivy is and how we wouldn't change a thing about her."
It was through Instagram that Filcik and Ivy made friends with Eliza and Stella, two adorable toddlers who also have disabilities. While Eliza has spina bifida, a neural tube defect, Stella has spinal muscular atrophy type 1, which means she needs to use a wheelchair to get around. Recently, all three girls had the opportunity to get dolls that match their personalities. Ivy got one with her big, beautiful eyes; Eliza got a doll that uses crutches, and Stella got a doll in a wheelchair. When the mother saw how meaningful the moment actually was, she knew she had to share it with the world.
"It was the first time I truly realized just how underrepresented people with disabilities are in the media and the toys our kids play with," she explained. "[I] just knew the world needed to see what I saw. I messaged Eliza's and Stella's moms and asked if I could use their photos alongside one of Ivy in a post I wanted to write about representation. They happily agreed." Since Filcik first wrote about the need for representation, over 11,000 people have seen Ivy's story. This means even more folks now better understand the need for inclusion and representation: "Every single human being deserves to see somebody who looks like them in movies, books, commercials, and toys. People of all races, abilities, body types, genders, religions, etc., need to be represented in what we watch, read, and play with," the mother affirms in her post.
Nonetheless, it is not just about children with disabilities. A lack of representation can hurt all children. Filcik says, "They grow up with the incredibly skewed perception that everybody looks like them. And anybody who doesn’t isn’t ‘normal’ and should be feared. That, my friends, is how racism and ableism can be perpetuated in our kids without us even realizing it." Of course, for kids like Ivy, Eliza, and Stella, it shows them that they are "human, worthy of being included... just like everybody else."