The glamorous world of Barbie just became a whole lot more welcoming for children with disabilities, after Mattel announced the launch of new disabled dolls, one of which has a prosthetic leg, while the other is in a wheelchair.
Set to debut in the fall, the new diverse Barbie dolls will join the ever-expanding ‘Fashionistas’ collection – a range that includes characters of different shapes, sizes, and races.
‘Over the years, the #Barbie #Fashionistas line has evolved to be more reflective of the world girls see around them,’ a post on Barbie’s official Instagram account explained.
‘We’re excited to expand our offerings as the most diverse and inclusive doll line in the world. Shop the new Fashionistas this Fall!’
Mattel’s vice president Kim Culmone told : ‘We’re going to be introducing a doll in a wheelchair and a doll representing physical disabilities. She has a prosthetic limb.’
She added that there will also be ‘additional body sizes’ added to the Fashionistas range — a Barbie with a smaller bust and one with a less-defined waist. However, it was noted that a wheelchair accessory or a doll in a wheelchair ‘was one of the most requested items through our consumer hotline’.
‘It’s important to us to listen to our consumers,’ Kim added.
The Fashionistas line of dolls which the disabled dolls will join feature ‘even more skin tones, body types, hairstyles and fashions’.
The range of Barbies was launched in 2009 and introduced new body types; as of today parents can buy their children Original, Tall, Curvy and Petite dolls.
Prices range from $10 up to $30.
In addition they advertised how there were more than a hundred ‘diverse’ looks at launch, with those numbers growing with the addition of the disabled Barbies.
Mattel – which owns the iconic doll – said: ‘The Barbie brand has always reflected the times.’
And it’s not just Barbie who has been given something of a makeover; the Ken doll – Barbie’s longtime boyfriend – has also been revamped with three new body types: Original, Broad and Slim.
It is not the brand’s first foray into making disabled Barbies, with a Paralympic champion named Becky having been launched in the 1990s. In 1997, the company also launched Share a Smile Becky, a brown-haired doll that sat in a wheelchair.
However, the product was discontinued not long after because of ongoing issues with its design.
Mattel has also been trying to immortalize inspirational women from many different professions and walks of life; in 2017, Barbie launched a hijab-wearing doll that was based on Olympic bronze medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad of the US fencing team.
The hijab Barbie can be bought for $30.99 and accessories such as Nike shoes can be added to her look.
Plus-size model Ashley Graham has also received her own Barbie doll, as has gymnast Gabby Douglas.