Barbie has always been a girl with a job. With time, she got more diverse and more forgiving of women's bodies. And now, she is becoming inclusive of people with disabilities.
On the 60th year of Barbie's birth in 1959, Mattel has launched a new line of 'Fashionista' dolls which includes a Babrbie on a wheelchair and another with a prosthetic limb. The idea is to push for more inclusivity in the dolls that milloins of children and teenagers across the world play with.
To create the doll, Mattel collaborated with the 13-year-old disability activist who was born without a left arm. the doll has prosthetics legs which can be removed, thus helping children with disabilities to have a more real play experience.
Reeves, who became a sensation in 2016 after designing a prosthetic arms that shoots glitter, is from Missouri and co-founder of the organisation 'Born Just Right'. Making use of 3-D printers, she has since been working on a variety of creative prosthetic arams inclusing one with detachable wrist attachments.
I can’t believe the news is out. I got to collaborate with @Barbie to release a new prosthetic leg #Fashionistas doll! Thank you @Mattel for giving more kids a chance to see themselves in dolls. https://t.co/wSNvqA0TBN pic.twitter.com/VmKSwdpABr— Jordan Reeves (@jordanjustright) February 11, 2019
In a statement by Mattel, it said including the wheelchair and prosthetic leg to the fashion dolls range would help "elevate the conversation around physical disabilities" and help showcase a "multi-dimensional view" of fashion and beauty, CNN reported.
According to the toy brand, the wheelchair, which was designed after consultations with experts and UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, has been one of the most requested accesories by fans of the doll. It comes with a ramp which is compatible with the Barbie Dream House series of detachable doll houses.
The dolls will be available in markets this June.
Over the years, Barbie has pushed toward making their dolls more inclusive by making their body types more realistic and diverse, and adding dolls of colour with varying hairstyles and eye-colours. In 2016, Mattel announced Barbies to be available in seven skin tones, 22 eye-colours and 24 hairstyles. In 2017, the first Hijab-wearing barbie was launched.
In 2012, reponding to an online campaign, Mattel agreed to produce 'Ella', Barbie's bald friend who was meant to help children going through hair-loss due to cancer treatments feel included. A shipment of these dolls was delivered to children receiving cancer treatment in a Polish hospital in 2013.
The move was deeply appreciated by many on the internet lauded Wheelchair Barbie who may soon bring joy to thousands of children and even adults living with disabilities. The fact that Mattel actually worked with a disabled person to help design the products was also praised.
I dont care how immature it is im getting the prosthetic limb Barbie because she's adorable look at this sweet heart— Lemon|june 26th (@Getupjohnnyb0i) February 14, 2019
I remember making a wheelchair for my barbies pic.twitter.com/0iuv3yIOSa
They put Barbie in a wheelchair— Gemma Stone (@GemsEmeralds) February 12, 2019
People are mad that they made a wheelchair Barbie and I’ve never been more confused about conservatives. I don’t understand lmao they seem to think needing a wheelchair is some liberal snowflake thing— Ginny Di (@itsginnydi) February 14, 2019
Barbie releasing a line of dolls with prosthetics and a wheelchair is literally the greatest and completely wonderful and so overdue,,,, HOWEVER,,, cant stop thinking about this bitch: pic.twitter.com/uxCtHy4P4x— (@jas_craven_) February 14, 2019
Fantastic news to see children's toys becoming more inclusive with the addition of a Barbie in a wheelchair and with a prosthetic leg. Learn more - https://t.co/L6yBVsu8Cr #inclusion #WheelchairBarbie #diversity pic.twitter.com/UDUd6q7BKf— LifeWithoutBarriers (@LWBAustralia) February 14, 2019
This is not the first time Mattel attempted to create a more inclusive Barbie. In 1997, it released 'Becky', Barbie's photographer friend who was on a wheelchair. But 'Share-A-Smile-Becky' as it initially was called, was soon discontinued after initial popularity due tocertain major design flaws — the shiny pink wheelchair would not fit through the Barbie Dream House. After morphing into Becky, then Sign Language Becky and finally Paralympic Becky, the dolls were eventually taken off the shelves as thhey never actually ended up changingthe Dream House's design.
I don't even get why this is an issue, there was a wheelchair bound Barbie in the 90s; and even if there wasn't why would this make anybody angry, are these people really that stupid and hateful? pic.twitter.com/DpUNQGoNzc— Claudia Lomelí (@TheClauLomeli) February 14, 2019
Here's to hoping Mattel's second attempt at including a dolls with physical disabilities does not meet the same end as the last.