In the sixty years since her introduction by Mattel, Barbie has changed from simply a blond-haired, blue-eyed fashion doll to an icon representing a wide range of races, cultures, and body types and now, Barbie is breaking new ground, featuring dolls with prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs.
Mattel has announced new additions to their Fashionista line, additions that will feature dolls not only with different hair textures and body types, but with disabilities as well. Included in the line is a Barbie who uses a wheelchair and one with a removable, prosthetic leg, additions that Mattel's vice president of Barbie Design Kim Culmone told Teen Vogue have been highly requested by consumers.
"We're going to be introducing a doll in a wheelchair and a doll representing physical disabilities. She has a prosthetic limb," Culmone said. "[There will be] additional body sizes -- a Barbie with a smaller bust and a less-defined waist. A wheelchair or 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."
In order to make good on that consumer demand, Mattel worked with real people living with disabilities to create the dolls. The wheelchair -- which any Barbies in the "Made to Move" collection can use -- saw the toymaker work with a team at UCLA while the doll with the prosthetic limb was created with the assistance of 12-year-old Jordan Reeves, who herself has a prosthetic arm. According to Culmone, it was Jordan's request that the prosthetic be removeable.
"That was one of our big ahas," Culmone explained. "That's not necessarily something we would have realized how important it would be to someone living with this experience."
The expansion of the Barbie line to include wheelchairs and a doll with a prosthetic limb is just the latest in Mattel's efforts to broaden the diversity of the iconic doll. Late last year, an Arizona couple created their own same-sex Barbie wedding set to better reflect their own lives as a gift for their eight-year-old niece. The DIY set quickly went viral, catching the attention of Mattel themselves. Matt Jacobi and Nick Caprio, the couple behind the set, ended up meeting with Mattel to discuss the possibility of a similar set becoming a reality from the company. The pair later reported that the meeting, which took place in January, was a success. Jacobi posted to Instagram that they are "confident in the direction Barbie is taking to make their line the most inclusive doll line on the market".
That confidence is something that Culmone echoed.
"It's 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 additions to the Barbie line. "This is just a continuing commitment that's about the present and the future."0comments
The new Barbie dolls featuring prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs will be available later this fall.
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