Barbie introduces dolls with wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs.
Barbie introduces dolls with wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs.

Big change to cult toy brand

A far cry from the disproportionate blonde, white woman she started off as 60 years ago, Barbie today is black, brunette, slim, curvy and now - in a wheelchair.

Barbie made the announcement yesterday saying their latest additions, which also includes a doll with a prosthetic leg, is part of Mattel's 2019 Barbie Fashionistas line which aims to offer kids more diverse representations of beauty.

"Over the years the Barbie Fashionistas line has evolved to be more reflective of the world girls see around them," Barbie said on its Instagram page alongside a photo of the seven new dolls.

"She has evolved to be more reflective of the young people who play with her and more representative of the world around her.

"We're excited to expand our offerings as the most diverse and inclusive doll line in the world."

 

Barbie has expanded its Fashionista line to include a doll with a removable, prothetic leg and a doll in a wheelchair.
Barbie has expanded its Fashionista line to include a doll with a removable, prothetic leg and a doll in a wheelchair.

The post has been like more than 41,000 times with up to 1000 comments mainly thanking the brand for embracing diversity - including from disability rights activists.

"I'm a girl in a wheelchair and I wish these were around when I was younger. This is beautiful I'm thrilled. Teaching diversity is ok at a young age is a great thing …"

"These dolls truly are inspiring! I love them!

"THANK YOU. This is SO important and inspiring!" added another.

One person asked if the prosthetic leg is jointed, or static like the rest of the Fashionista line.

"Articulation is such a great thing and I love that the wheelchair user appears to have MTM joints!" the person said.

Barbie responded, saying the prosthetic limb can be removed for a "more realistic" play experience.

It also said the new body type has a smaller bust, less defined waist and more defined arms.

Barbie manufacturer Mattel collaborated with Jordan Reeves, a 13-year-old disability activist born without a left forearm, to create the doll with the prosthetic limb and UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital and wheelchair experts to design the doll with a wheelchair.

The company said the wheelchair has been one of the most requested accessories from Barbie fans, CNN reported.

"While there are many types of wheelchairs, this chair is modelled after one that is designed for an individual who has a permanent physical disability," Mattel said in a statement.

The new additions which will be introduced in June are part of a recent effort by Barbie to incorporate more diversity by offering dolls with different skin shades, eye colours, hairstyles and clothing.

Mattel in 2017 introduced the first Barbie to wear a hijab, and the toy-maker is considering creating a same-sex Barbie wedding set.

Kim Culmone, Mattel's vice president of Barbie Design told Teen Vogue that Mattel intends to keep listening to what its consumers want to see for Barbie in the future.

"It is a continuation of our mission to really show all girls they have limitless potential, that it's not the end," Culmone said of the new line. "This is just a continuing commitment that's about the present and the future."


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