Barbie To Introduce Disabled Dolls With Wheelchair and Prosthetic Limbs

(Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

Barbie dolls will have new lines that have never been seen before. Mattel is launching dolls that represent women who are not physically perfect. The new concept is an advocate to boost the confidence of women with disabilities and show that their imperfection is beautiful too.

On Monday, Feb. 11, Mattel announced that it is taking a step to correct the common definition of being beautiful. The new line of Barbies will consist of dolls of various body sizes, skin color and disabilities, Chicago Tribune reported.

Mattel's senior VP of Barbie's marketing, Nancy Zwiers, said that the new dolls were added to their lines to reflect the "real world" and diversity that we live in. The other goal is for people to appreciate differences.

John Kemp, president and chief executive of the Very Special Arts added that the imperfect Barbies promote arts education for children with disabilities.

"Becky (the disabled Barbie) portrays a positive image," he said. "She dispels stereotypes and shows that people with disabilities can be fun, beautiful and playful."

As can be seen in the handout photos of Becky, she uses a pink wheelchair with purple wheels to be fashionable despite her condition. Mattel actually started selling Becky dolls on a wheelchair in 1997 and it was a hit with customers. In the first week after release, the company already sold around 6,000 units.

Now, Mattel is reintroducing this line and adding other dolls that use prosthetic legs instead of sitting on a wheelchair. There is also a doll fitted with prosthetic arm and children who will play with them can remove these just like in real life. All of these units will also have specialized accessories once released this June.

In another interview with Teen Vogue, Kim Culmone, Mattel's VP in doll designs described their new Barbie dolls as a tool to teach kids about diversity and learn to accept everyone regardless of their appearance. She added that they the idea of creating a Barbie on a wheelchair again came about when people asked for it online.

"A wheelchair or doll in a wheelchair was one of the most requested items through our consumer hotline," she said. "It's important to us to listen to our consumers."

Barbie also updates its social media account and revealed how the new Fashionista Barbies are going to look like. Looking at the photo, they are indeed good looking dolls despite their imperfections.

The disabled Barbie dolls are part of the Fashionista Barbie lines and by launching them, Mattel aims to empower young women and help them believe in themselves. The new dolls are set to debut this fall. 

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