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Barbie dolls with wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs are coming to stores this fall

Feb 14, 2019, 10:39 AM

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By Ari Rees

Barbie is getting a little more inclusive this year with the addition of a wheelchair and prosthetic limbs.

What happened: Mattel announced that they will be debuting a doll with a wheelchair and another with a removable prosthetic leg as part of 2019 Barbie Fashionistas line, according to CNN.

  • In a statement about the release, Mattel said, “As a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them into our fashion doll line to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion.”
  • Kim Culmone, Mattel’s vice president of Barbie Design, told Teen Vogue, “A wheelchair or doll in a wheelchair was one of the most requested items through our consumer … hotline.”
  • Mattel will also include a Barbie DreamHouse-compatible ramp with the wheelchair in 2019, according to CNN.

Mattel teamed up with individuals with disabilities to create the latest additions to the Fashionista line. According to Teen Vogue, Mattel worked with a team at UCLA to create the wheelchair. Jordan Reeves, a 12-year-old who has a prosthetic arm, also helped on the project.

  • Reeves worked with the design team to ensure the prosthetic limbs for the new dolls were removable and detailed properly, according to Teen Vogue.

Barbie has made several new additions to their Fashionista line, including dolls with different skin colors, hair textures and body types.

Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, told CNN “it’s symbolic that ‘a big icon of society like Barbie now demonstrates or shows that there are different types of people … (who) can be attractive and something kids want to play with.’”

Barbie was introduced to the world 60 years ago and has since seen several changes, but the company has made strong efforts to diversify the look of their dolls only as recently as 2015 and 2016.

  • Barbie has faced criticism for years over the lack of diversity and unrealistic body standards of their dolls.
  • In 2015, the company began broadening its line of dolls to include more skin colors, face shapes and eye colors. In 2016, the company introduced dolls with curvy body types and varying heights, according to The New York Times.
  • “The feedback we got about the doll and the brand was not in line with what our intentions were. We took that really seriously,” Culmone told Teen Vogue. “Out of it came increased ethnicity, body type — all things we had explored on the brand previously over the past 20 years I’d been here. So we then decided there would be a cadence of revisions done to the brand.”

Culmone added that Mattel will also be debuting dolls with smaller busts and less defined waists later this year.

The dolls will be released in fall 2019, according to Teen Vogue.

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Barbie dolls with wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs are coming to stores this fall