Kids love toys. This cannot be denied. Sure, we can joke that they’re just as happy with a cardboard box, but that’s not always true. The box eventually loses its appeal too.

When we watch our kids play with toys, we notice a few things. One is that kids love to pretend. They are drawn to animals, super heroes, etc. that they can pretend to be. Another observation is that kids are drawn to toys that are familiar. They may like a medical set or a particular instrument because it reminds them of their parents, for example. They also like dolls that look like them.

Have you noticed the phenomenon of the American Girl dolls? One of the big draws is that there are a wide variety of dolls, so many that most children will be able to find one that looks like him or her.

There is one exception. What about children with disabilities or other things that make them look physically different, such as skin conditions? It’s hard for these children to find dolls that look like they do.

João Stanganelli Jr. has a skin condition called vitiligo. According to the National Institutes of Health, this is a long-lasting “disorder that causes areas of skin to lose color. When skin cells that make color are attacked and destroyed, the skin turns a milky-white color.” Nobody knows why this happens, but while it is not dangerous to one’s life, it can cause “low self-esteem and depression.”


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Stanganelli does not feel depressed about his vitiligo at all. In fact, when he took up crocheting, he decided to crochet a doll for his grandfather and include vitiligo markings on the doll so that she’d always have something to remember him by.

The doll was a huge hit with his granddaughter, so much so that he took a picture of her with it and posted it online. He never expected this photo to turn him into a professional doll maker.


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Stanganelli has now crocheted about 200 dolls for children with vitiligo and other disabilities like being in a wheelchair, being blind or wearing a cochlear implant.

Watch the video below for more about this amazing man and his unique dolls.


Stanganelli’s Instagram account is full of pictures of his dolls and pictures of him crocheting them. We love this unique idea, and we love how happy these dolls are making the people who receive them.

Do you know someone who would love a custom crocheted doll?