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Mattel Collaborates with 13-Year-Old Disablity Activist to Create Wheelchair and Prosthetics Barbie

In a bid to make dolls more inclusive, Mattel has added Barbie dolls with wheelchairs and prosthetic legs to its 'Fashionistas' range.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com@theotherbose

Updated:February 15, 2019, 2:27 PM IST
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Mattel Collaborates with 13-Year-Old Disablity Activist to Create Wheelchair and Prosthetics Barbie
In a bid to make dolls more inclusive, Mattel has added Barbie dolls with wheelchairs and prosthetic legs to its 'Fashionistas' range.

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.

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.

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.

Here's to hoping Mattel's second attempt at including a dolls with physical disabilities does not meet the same end as the last.

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