She’s been a robotics engineer, an Olympic skier, and even a beekeeper, but Barbie has never had a physical disability Mattel is finally changing that. It’s 2019 Barbie Fashionistas line will include a doll in a wheelchair and a doll with a prosthetic leg.
“As a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them into our fashion doll line to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion,” Mattel said in a statement.
The doll that comes with a wheelchair will have a special articulated body not seen in other Barbie dolls that will make it easy to sit in the chair. Speaking of the chair, the designers worked with UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital to design a chair that resembles one designed for someone with a permanent physical disability. A ramp is also included, so your kid’s Barbie DreamHouse will finally be ADA-compliant.
For the Barbie with a prosthetic leg, Mattel turned to Jordan Reeves, a 13-year-old disability advocated who was born without a left forearm. The leg itself is removable, just like a real prosthetic would be.
The Fashionistas line has become the place to find Barbies that divert from the classic, blonde, skinny version of the doll. In previous years, dolls with curves, different skin color, heights, and hairstyles have all be part of the line. This year’s line also includes a doll of color with braided hair.
Lammily, a toymaker much smaller than Mattel, started selling a wheelchair compatible with its own dolls and Barbie dolls in 2017. According to the Lammily Kickstarter for the wheelchair, a wheelchair for Barbie-sized dolls was discontinued in 1997.
“We want to see ourselves reflected in the culture, toys, products and everything around us,” Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi of Respect Ability, a disability advocacy group, told CNN. So while Lammily was first, the fact that the world’s second-biggest toymaker is adding dolls with disabilities to its most iconic brand is a positive development for those who want kids with disabilities to feel represented in the toy aisle.