Just Like Her

american girl dollAs our kids have gotten older, the joy of Christmas has been amplified. The excitement leading up to Christmas morning takes me back to 5-year-old Kristina hoping Santa saw my wish list consisting of all-things Barbie.

Imagine my joy this year when I stumbled upon a website that sells 3D printed insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors for dolls. I just knew Isabella would LOVE them. In fact, I was pretty sure they’d be some of her favorite Christmas gifts. I promptly filled my online shopping cart with all of the supplies that would soon make her Barbie “just like her”!

On Christmas Eve I strategically placed the teeny tiny wrapped gadgets in her stocking…knowing we’d be saving one of the best gifts for last. I wondered if I should have brought one of her Barbies up from the basement since I was certain she’d want to do a “site change” as soon as she opened them up. I didn’t want to delay Barbie’s pesky two hour calibration window for her new glucose monitor any more than necessary!

Once the wrapping paper dust had settled Christmas morning, the old “Oh, look! He filled your stockings, too!” set off a flurry of renewed excitement. One by one the kids dumped their loot onto the floor. As they pushed aside their reindeer Pez dispensers and packs of gum, they began unwrapping their final bursts of holiday joy.

As Isabella ripped the paper off the miniature Dexcom, I knew I had made a mistake. The expression on her face…I’m still not really sure what it was. Disappointment? Curiosity? Confusion? What I did know was that it wasn’t the one I had envisioned when I clicked “place order now”. It wasn’t excitement and it certainly wasn’t joy. In fact, for a brief second, it almost felt like sadness.

I looked at Greg with a face signaling that this wasn’t the way Christmas morning was supposed to end. I watched as Isabella looked between her toy medical devices and her sister’s miniature Lite Brite and her brother’s Storm Trooper keychain. Her “gift” didn’t feel so much like a gift, after all. At that moment it was me who was filled with sadness…and a little bit of shame.

I had, once again, made it “about diabetes”. I had assumed that Isabella WANTED her doll to be just like her. But she didn’t. Actually, I don’t know that she’d ever even considered that her doll COULD have diabetes. She’s never once asked why her dolls don’t have T1D and she’s never said she wished they did.

This week it was announced that the American Girl empire has developed a type 1 diabetes accessory kit. Had I heard this news just one week ago I would have been first in line to throw down the $24 to make sure Isabella’s doll would have one. In fact, I would have driven two hours to the closest store and purchased extras for all of Isabella’s T1D BFFs, just knowing they would be a hit!

But not today.

Today I will let Isabella make that decision. Today I will not assume that in order for her to feel accepted she must be surrounded with dolls “just like her”. Today, instead of making assumptions about what will make Isabella happy, I will ask her.

Thank you to American Girl for giving our daughters the choice to have their dolls be just like them in so many ways. I love that the brand is embracing the many differences of young girls today and feel fortunate that, whatever Isabella chooses, her doll can be just her…

Or not.

Cheers to Changing the World,


  1. Sherrie Broadhurst says:

    You are wonderful parents who have been blessed with a beautiful family and a child helping you to open the eyes of many. Continue your work so many can reap the benefits.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective!

    I grew up with the historical AG (Pleasant Company) dolls and have never quite understood the appeal of the modern “just like me” dolls that leave little to the imagination.

  3. We’ve had little fake pumps for years and my daughter has gone back and forth between using them and not. Her dolls have little matching pump pouches that her non-D friends are incredibly jealous of.. which always cracks me up. If they only knew. There is certainly never any pressure for her to pretend that her dolls have diabetes, but there are times that she does, and she was so excited to see this AG D kit and we ordered it immediately. 🙂 I think it’s fine to buy fun or special diabetes related gifts for kids with D, as long as they don’t take the place of other gifts. My sister once gut-punched me on christmas when I’d ordered an expensive bag for diabetes supplies by saying something along the lines of “it’s like getting a wheelchair for your birthday.” Ouch. Yes, that wasn’t how it felt to me, but maybe it would to my daughter? IDK Hopefully your daughter will find it’s nice to be able to play pretend with a doll who has diabetes when she wants to, and also nice to put that pump in a drawer and forget about it.. A dream come true. 😉

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