New Barbie range features dolls in wheelchairs and with prosthetic limbs

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer

In a bid to represent a more diverse range of women, Barbie has introduced two new dolls with disabilities – one that uses a wheelchair and another with a prosthetic leg.

Yesterday, Mattel announced the latest additions to its Fashionista line and explained that the launch is designed to “elevate the conversation around physical disabilities” while further showcasing “a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion”.

The new dolls come hot off the back of increased customer demand and the global firm worked with founder of nonprofit organisation, Born Just Right, Jordan Reeves – who has a prosthetic arm – to ensure the new dolls are as realistic as possible.

“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,” Mattel’s vice president of Barbie Design, Kim Culmone, told Teen Vogue:

Response to the new launch has been widely praised with a large number of social media users applauding the company for its latest move on Instagram.

One fan wrote, “So freaking beautiful that it almost brings me to tears. This is amazing Barbie, I’m so happy and proud of how big your company is growing – this is truly a historical moment.”

“I think it’s time to say that EVERYONE can look like Barbie and EVERYONE can be represented in such an honourable way. I thank you so much for this and I’m proud to be a Barbie fan!”

Another commented, “Delighted by this! As I disabled person, I thank you for this. I’m looking forward to what the future will bring (hoping for hearing aids).”

But the campaign is sure to prove divisive, as Barbie has come under fire in recent years for its attempt to become more inclusive.

It wasn’t until 1969 that Mattel introduced its first black Barbie and 2016 was the year “curvy” dolls (which still boasted arguably slim features) lined up on the toyshop shelves.

To celebrate International Women’s Day last year, Barbie honoured female role models across a diverse range of career paths with their very own dolls from British Boxing Champion Nicola Adams to ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan.

While most recently, Mattel also introduced a range of Barbies dressed as vets, doctors and computer engineers in a bid to encourage young women to “be anything you want”.

For over six decades, children have played with dolls famed for their peroxide locks, heeled feet and unattainable figures.

Could this be a step in the right direction?

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