Barbie was a staple toy in my childhood, along with my Cabbage Patch dolls and Rainbow Brite. We had Barbies that were veterinarians, doctors, airplane pilots, business women, and rock stars. (For the record, I still know every word to the Barbie and the Rockers theme song. We also had their tour bus, which my dad had to put together one Christmas Eve, probably with blood, sweat, and swears.) But I never saw a Barbie with diabetes. (Hell, I never even saw a Barbie with realistic physical dimensions, but that's an entirely different post.)
In the last few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about a "beautiful and bald Barbie" being created to "to help young girls who suffer from hair loss due to cancer treatments, Alopecia or Trichotillomania. Also, for young girls who are having trouble coping with their mother's hair loss from chemo." Almost 150,000 people have "Liked" that Facebook page.
After seeing this public outcry, Amy Ermel was moved to respond to her own daughter's question of "Why isn't there a Barbie with diabetes?" And today she's talking about her desire for a "diabetic Barbie" for her little girl.
Amy's "Diabetic Barbie" prototype
Kerri: Amy, can you please introduce yourself to everyone, and let them know what your connection to diabetes is?
Amy: Hi there! My name is Amy Ermel and I have been a "D-Mom" for over three years now. My seven year old daughter (who will be turning eight on Valentine's Day, actually!) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of four.
Kerri: Can you tell me a little bit about your daughter's diagnosis, and how she (and you) have been handling things so far?
Amy: Emma was diagnosed on June 26, 2008 ... just a couple of months before she was to start junior kindergarten. She had been showing all of the classic symptoms, but I really had no idea. I thought that perhaps she had a bladder infection, so I took her to the doctor and was floored to find out the real diagnosis [of type 1 diabetes]. What a ride it has been since that day! Emma started off on injections and this past May she finally decided she was ready to pump. She chose the Animas Ping, and we have loved it since day one. Pumping has really given us back our freedom and it feels like we are able to live our lives about as close to how things were before diagnosis as possible.
Kerri: What planted the seed for Diabetic Barbie, and why do you think it's important for kids like your daughter?
Amy: Emma had gone to school a couple of weeks ago and had heard from friends that there was a bald Barbie doll coming out soon for cancer awareness. She came home that day and asked me why there wasn't one for diabetes? I feel that many children diagnosed with diabetes are of prime "Barbie playing" age. If they were able to sit down and play Barbies and see her with a pump, or a blood glucose meter, a lancet ... they would feel a sense of normalcy. They would feel that connection. They could play with a doll that was just like they were and it would bring a smile to their faces. The same rings true for siblings of diabetics, I believe. They could play with a Barbie doll that has diabetes just like their brother or sister does ,and it would make them proud! It would definitely be a huge self-esteem boost for our type 1 kiddos!
Kerri: I saw that you have a Facebook page and are looking to grab the attention of Mattel. What's your plan, moving forward?
Amy: We have created a Facebook page called "Diabetic Barbie" and are trying to spread the word. We would like to have 5000 "likes" to our page so we can bring this along with a petition to Mattel and make them see that the DOC are a family. We stand up for our kids and we want the best for them. I want to put diabetes in the spotlight and have our kids shine like the true heroes they are!
Kerri: How can people in the DOC help you raise awareness of Diabetic Barbie?
Amy: The DOC has shown tremendous support so far and Emma and I are truly grateful! You all are making my job as a mommy very easy. You are helping me to show Emma that it is okay to dream big ... even when you are seven years old! There are people out there willing to help you and support you! The DOC can help by spreading the word, sharing a link to our Diabetic Barbie Facebook page and asking their friends to "Like" it. Share and tell everyone you know and let's make this happen together!!
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You can read Amy's blog at Laughing at Diabetes and, of course, visit the Diabetic Barbie Facebook page. A little awareness and advocacy can go a long way in making a kid with diabetes feel empowered.