When Mattel first created Barbie, she was a model-thin blonde doll whose main interest was fashion. But over the years, she’s evolved to be more representative of real women. She’s been given new careers ranging from doctor to robotics engineer, showing that girls can grow up to be anything they want. And in recent years, Mattel has listened to consumer demands and released Barbies with more diverse body types and colors. Now, the company is continuing to make strides toward inclusion by releasing two new disabled Barbie dolls.
TeenVogue reports that on February 11th, Mattel announced they will add a Barbie in a wheelchair and a Barbie with a prosthetic leg to their Fashionistas line. Kim Culmone, the company’s vice president of Barbie design, told TeenVogue that a wheelchair-using doll had been in high demand for years. Many people have used the consumer hotline to submit the request.
To create the new doll’s chair, Mattel worked with a team from UCLA. And when creating Barbie’s prosthesis, Culmone said they consulted with 12-year-old Jordan Reeves, who has a prosthetic arm. It was Reeves who suggested that Barbie’s prosthetic leg be removable.
Mattel is also expanding the body types and hair textures available in the Fashionistas line, which currently features curvy, petite, and tall dolls.
The company is even adding a doll with braided hair for the first time ever. TeenVogue notes that the newest additions will be available in Fall 2019, but you can buy existing dolls in the Fashionistas line on the Barbie website.
Culmone told Good Morning America that the brand was “focused on evolving to remain the most diverse doll line in the marketplace.”
"This year our Barbie line will include dolls reflecting physical disabilities in order to better represent the people and the world kids see around them," she added. "Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is a critical component of our design process and we are proud that today’s kids will know a different image and experience of the brand."
We’re so glad to see Mattel working to make dolls that reflect a broad range of experiences.