Why Can’t American Girl Create Limb Difference Dolls?

by Jen Lee Reeves on November 27, 2012 · 62 comments

in 2012,american girl


Four years ago, we bought Jordan’s first American Girl doll. It was a Bitty Baby and I even let her pick out an outfit that matched her baby. She loved it SO much. But the very first time she put on the outfit that matched, she told me she wished she had two hands like her doll. Since then, I’ve tried to come up with ways that won’t destroy her American Girl doll but would give her a chance to enjoy a doll that really is just like her. Last year, Jordan got her first My American Doll. She loves her very much and loves finding matching outfits. We even have a Christmas outfit planned to match her doll this year.

I started sending email four years ago to American Girl’s media relations department to find out what it would take to create a limb different doll but I’ve been ignored each time I’ve sent a note. Other readers of Born Just Right tell me they’ve been told flat out that American Girl will not make limb different dolls. There just aren’t many options for our kids. There’s actual research from 1992 that found amputee dolls really help kids in communicating and sharing details about limb differences.

I’ve found a few sites that sell limb different dolls. It includes Karens Kids special needs dolls and there are Sew Able dolls with leg limb differences. When Jordan was a baby, we bought her an AmpuTeddy. It came with a teddy bear with an arm difference and a teddy bear prosthetic that slipped on top of the little arm. It is super cute… but the website says they don’t make the bears anymore.

So… What do we need to do to convince a major doll maker to help support the small set of kids with limb differences? I’m willing to pay extra. I could purposefully alter a doll on my own, but I am the least crafty mom out there and I’d hate to actually break a doll in an attempt to create a limb difference. Would a letter campaign help? A “Bald and Beautiful” Facebook campaign to create bald Barbie gained HUGE steam earlier this year. After a national campaign and hundreds and thousands of supporters, there’s a True Hope line of Moxy and Bratz dolls available at Toys R Us.

UPDATE: I was given the heads up on another teddy bear that is for sale. It’s the Sarah Bear – but for now, there is only a lower limb difference bear. The owner of a Sarah Bear and Born Just Right reader, Shauna, tells me they’ve discussed limb different bears with and without prosthetics but there hasn’t been enough interest so far. If you are interested, let the folks at Sarah Bear know!

I’d love your thoughts. Wouldnt it be amazing if limb differences were mainstream enough to create limb different dolls available for purchase at a mainstream store? That would be remarkable.

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia A. Kelly October 16, 2013 at 10:06 am

An update! Jess is out of surgery and the doctors were able to save her growth plate which was totally up in the air! She is in Philadelphia, PA at a great hospital.
@ Jen, thank you for your kind words AND information. I have written it in my calendar so it won’t get lost.
@ Deanna. You sound incredibly passionate about your dolls and serving those in need. That passion is going take a hold of you during that presentation. You won’t really be doing the presentation. Your passion is going to do it for you. (Believe me. I have presented hundreds of workshops. I was nervous the 1st time. After that, it was nothing!) Plus you are speaking to folks from the Rotary Club. These are thoughtful, kind, generous and nurturing people! Just like you! So be a tiny bit nervous and hugely excited! You, too, are starting a new adventure!!
Also, if your note and offer were for me on behalf of Jessica, I say yes! Absolutely! And many, many thanks!

Deanna McCammon October 16, 2013 at 10:59 am

Patricia, no one took me up on that offer so I would love to send one to Jessica!! Just e-mail me where to mail her and she will have her Halle LuLu doll soon.

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! I just try to keep kids in my thoughts when doing this, oh and my Grandma as she was my inspiration. Long story for another day.

heather November 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm

My little girl is a double amputee of her legs and she is almost 3 and I wish there was a doll like the American girl dolls for her.not all children are made the same God makes usaall different

Jen Lee Reeves November 20, 2013 at 8:38 am

I totally agree, Heather!

Patricia A. Kelly November 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Contact Deanna McCmmon. She is the creator of the Halle Lulu dolls. I believe that she will customize to your specifications. She just sent a beautiful amputee doll to my best friends niece who just lost her left leg to Osteosarcoma. She will be five years old in two weeks.
Anyway you can find the dolls on Amazon or through her website. Also, she has a Facebook page as “Halle Lulu”.
I wish you, your precious daughter and entire family the very best.
Patty Kelly

Jen Lee Reeves December 1, 2013 at 11:36 pm

That’s great to hear, Patty!

Rebecca December 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm

I stumbled on your site while looking for accessories for my nieces American Girl dolls. I had just been to this site which has dolls like you are requesting. I am not affiliated with them it was just a fluke I was looking at their site before yours. I think they may just do leg differences but maybe you could ask about arms. Their dolls look just like AG dolls. They also have all sorts of therapy equipment. My prayers are with you and your family. Rebecca


Rebecca December 2, 2013 at 8:15 pm

sorry I just reread your blog and saw that you knew about Sew Able dolls. Happy holidays.

Jen Lee Reeves December 3, 2013 at 6:56 am

Thanks so much, Rebecca!

Gabi Moench Ford March 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Hi my Name is Gabi and I created a doll with a prosthetic arm I would like to do a auction of the doll and hope to bring some money for your organization you can see her on Facebook on my page Her name is Emma Hugalot

Alan September 6, 2014 at 3:51 pm

How about buying a cheap Our Generation doll and practicing on her first?

Jen Lee Reeves September 8, 2014 at 9:58 am

Good point! That may be worth the try.

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