Barbie Unveils New Dolls That Use Wheelchairs And Prosthetic Limbs

Since Barbie originally hit shelves back on March 9, 1959, the doll everyone has come to love has evolved and changed with the times. From the zebra striped swimsuit wearing doll to a chef, a doctor, an Olympian. Soon enough fans of the brand were able to access Barbies of different races and body types after a public push for diversity and criticism that the “perfect” doll promoted an unrealistic body type for girls. After the groundbreaking launch to further diversify the brand behind the doll, Mattel, has collaborated with a thirteen-year-old disabled activist Jordan Reeves. The teen was born without a forearm and has worked with Mattel to introduce dolls that are disabled.

For the first time, young disabled children will get to play with Barbie dolls who have realistic wheelchairs similar to theirs and have accurate prosthetic limbs as well.

Credit: Instagram/ @barbie

The overall response from the disabled community has been praising Mattel for creating an accurate representation for their Barbie brand. That is not only important for the world to see, especially when so many other companies have failed to show disabled people correctly because of their unwillingness to work with disabled people in production. Mattel has listened to disabled people begging for dolls that look like them and made the effort to work with disabled people to create the most authentic disabled doll as possible. These new disabled dolls have made many adults in the disabled community reminisce of their childhood when they dreamed of seeing a doll like them using mobility aids or missing limbs. And are excited to purchase the disabled Barbie doll to fulfill their childhood dreams. And speaking of dreams, along with the Barbie doll having an accurate wheelchair, Mattel is also including a Barbie DreamHouse-compatible ramp!

Guess the Barbie world knows the importance of being accessible and ADA compliant.

While most are celebrating, the disabled community had some well deserved constructive criticism of the new dolls.

One of the biggest constructive criticisms is the lack of diverse bodies, races, and ethnicities for the disabled Barbie dolls. It’s been widely known (thanks to the hashtag #DisabilityTooWhite) that when disability representation is given, it’s usually only shown as a white, slim disabled person, which is only a small fraction of what disabled people look like. Many people of color who are disabled and disabled allies have praised Mattel for the dolls but hopes more disabled dolls will be released who are multiple sizes, multiple races, and multiple ethnicities. Along with expanding the range of disability with Barbie dolls who use canes, walkers or wear braces on their ankles.

As for myself, I’m excited that these disabled dolls, though long overdue, are finally going to exist.

Courtesy of Andrea Lausell

I couldn’t help but reminisce as others have done, about my childhood with Barbie. As far back as I can remember, my ride or die when I was a little girl were Barbie dolls. Almost the way Angelica’s relationship towards her Cynthia doll was in Rugrats. The Teresa Barbie doll was my “Cynthia” and meant the world to me because for the first time, I was playing with a doll that looked like my family, Latinx. Teresa (oddly enough my sister has the same name) looked like my sister and therefore she felt like family. I even pretend she was bilingual like myself, went on many adventures with her, and confided in her through difficult times I would have. She was my best friend but as a child, I felt only half of a connection with her. Teresa wasn’t disabled, she didn’t use an aid or had multiple scars like me. And never in my life did I think there would be any doll, let alone a Barbie doll who would match my disabled body.

My hope along with the hope many of those in the disabled community have is that Mattel’s wheelchair and prosthetic using disabled Barbie dolls are the start of a revolution for children’s toys. Toys, especially dolls have been where kids learn about friendships, relationships and how to get along with those who are different from them. They learn to use their imagination and build compassion for others. By having accurate disabled dolls, it’s not only showing kids in general that there’s nothing wrong with disability, but it is also showing disabled kids that they’re normal and beautiful like their abled peers and their abled dolls. These disabled Barbie dolls are great companions for any disabled child and would be greater if they start making diverse disabled Barbie dolls with many types of disabilities, mobility aids and even adding scars to the dolls. Hopefully, this will make other toy companies begin to have disability in mind when creating new toys. Mattel’s new disabled Barbie dolls will be life-changing for so many disabled kids who want to have a companion who knows what they’re going through and get them through anything life throws at them the way my Teresa Barbie was for me.

Read: In New York, Queer Latina Tiffany Cabán Wants To Bring ‘Genuine Justice’ To The Queens District Attorney’s Office

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Mattel Just Made A Barbie Shero In Honor Of Laurie Hernandez’s Accomplishments And I Love What This Means For Little Latinas

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Mattel Just Made A Barbie Shero In Honor Of Laurie Hernandez’s Accomplishments And I Love What This Means For Little Latinas

For the past three years, the big box brand behind Barbie, Mattel, has worked hard to honor women who shatter glass ceilings, display their power and go for the gold through their “Shero” doll collection. In the past, Latinas that have been honored with a Barbie Shero-staus have included Lorena Ochoa and Frida Kahlo.

This month American artistic gymnast and Olympic gold medalist, Laurie Hernandez has received the honor as well.

The U.S. Olympian is being honored with a special Barbie doll of her own.

In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Hernandez shared that as a child she often broke her Barbie dolls while attempting to make them do gymnastics just like she did. To ensure young girls like her have the ability to play with their dolls and see themselves in them, Hernandez and Mattel worked together to give her doll’s limbs full range of motion as well as Hernandez’s likeness.

“Now girls are gonna be able to go find my doll and look at her and realize she has curls like them too, and if they want to try gymnastics, they can,” Hernandez said of the doll. “So I think that Barbie’s doing something incredible here.”

The new doll recognizes Hernandez’s official status as a “Shero.”

Having been considered a pillar of strength and force to be reckoned with since making her Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, Hernandez has used her platform to inspire young girls and women to embrace themselves for who they are and catapult themselves towards their dreams. Curves, muscles, strength and all. Her doll will, undoubtedly, prove to be a massive influence on the young Latina girls of newer generations.

The new doll comes with two leotards that come from Hernadez’s GK gymnastics line, sweatpants, a duffle bag and gym shoes. She also has Hernandez’s eyes and beloved curls.

“She has my curls! She has my eyes! She has my nose!” Hernandez told People.com in an interview. “It’s incredible to look at because when I was a little girl, I would play with Barbie dolls that had my hair color and my eye color. But this one really does look like me and I think it’s gonna resemble a lot of little girls out there.”

Hernandez’s new doll will soon be available at Walmart for $29.88

Read: Olympic Athlete Laurie Hernandez Just Launched a New Size Inclusive Line To Help Young Girls Realize Body Ideals Are Bogus

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Can Someone Please Explain To Me Why The Barbie Doll Version Of Frida Kahlo Doesn’t Include Her Wheelchair?

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Can Someone Please Explain To Me Why The Barbie Doll Version Of Frida Kahlo Doesn’t Include Her Wheelchair?

We’ve all heard and read about the extreme impacts of Barbie’s unattainable beauty. For years researchers have underlined how the queen bee of dolls, the one whose real-life dimensions would chalk her up to a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe, has and continues to warp young girls’ understandings of what they “should” look like. So, of course, it’s come as a relief that in more recent years Mattel, the manufacturing giant behind Barbie and American Girl, has taken steps to revamp and diversify its doll lineups so that kids of all shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities, and orientations can feel celebrated and capable.

In the company’s latest effort to honor the power of women, Mattel has unveiled a Barbie roster made up of female icons for their newest series called “Inspiring Women.” Right on time for International Women’s Day.

That Frida Kahlo has been selected for the lineup had Latinas across the net mostly thrilled. That was until some glaring details were noticed.

@@iGriseldaLira / Instagram

On Tuesday, the company revealed that the Latina artist, known for exploring and raising questions around feminism, identity, race, and beauty ideals would be made into a Barbie doll alongside historical and modern-day icons Amelia Earhart, Chloe Kim and Nicola Adams.

In a press release about the new line of dolls, Lisa McKnight, the senior vice president and general manager of Barbie talked about the company’s new dolls. “As a brand that inspires the limitless potential in girls, Barbie will be honoring its largest line up of role models timed to International Women’s Day, because we know that you can’t be what you can’t see… Girls have always been able to play out different roles and careers with Barbie and we are thrilled to shine a light on real-life role models to remind them that they can be anything.”

All appeared to be well and good until photos of the Mexican icon’s doll brought up a few glaring problems.

Many were quick to point out that some of the traits most typically attributed to the artist,  her brow, and her wheelchair, had been played down or missing entirely. Kahlo’s Barbie doll has a few sparse hairs between her brows but they’re not nearly as noticiable as the artist made them out to be in her own self-portraits.

Others highlighted how the use of her image by such a large corporation like Mattel went against everything the artist stood for. After all, the artist was well-known for her starch messages of anti-capitalism.

It’s easy to be grateful for Mattel’s decision to include Kahlo, but it’s also just as easy for us to be disappointed at the same time as well.

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As an Afro-Latina, I can effortlessly recall the impact playing with an ethnically specific doll like Barbie had on me. Barbie was a doll unlike me in practically every way I could tally up. She was fair-skinned, blue-eyed and without her long straight blond hair, she would have otherwise been completely hairless. Throughout my days of playing with dolls (and even now on the occasions I skip my nightly tweeze and shave sessions) I was dark-skinned, brown-eyed, extremely hairy on all parts of my body and I later endured bouts of a neurological disorder. Like many Latinas, Frida Kahlo was my first introduction to a famous person who was successful, was of color, was hairy, and had a body that battled various ailments. She wasn’t a sidekick like the partly relatable POC dolls (Christie was Black and Teresa was strictly white Latina) Mattel had distributed. She was the star of her own show, the main attraction.

So, yes, it’s exciting to see Frida Kahlo come to life as a Barbie, but TBH a more accurate portrayal of the artist would have had many of her fans much more excited and inspired. In the meantime, I’ll have my fingers crossed for re-do of Frida and I’ll still be waiting out for those Celia Cruz and Amara La Negra dolls.

Read: A Mexican Company Put Frida Kahlo’s Face On Its Feminine Hygiene Products And Someone Please Pass The Midol

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