The black doll, which sports a natural hairstyle, comes complete with a wheelchair and ramp for accessibility.
Mattel’s new Wheelchair Barbie has drawn wide praise across social media from people delighted with the ever-expanding inclusivity of the range. The doll has now officially launched in the US, after hitting UK shelves earlier this year.
The company has been working hard to increase the representation within the best-selling doll brand, and as a result now boasts the most diverse range of dolls on the market. To date, Barbie Fashionistas have had over 100 different skin tones, ethnicities, hair textures, eye colours, and even face shapes since 2015, and also come in a range of body shapes and heights.
This isn’t the first Barbie in a wheelchair Mattel has created – the first was released in 1990 – but the new doll offers significantly better play potential. Fans were quick to spot the inclusion of a ramp, so Barbie can get in and out of her Dreamhouse, and also praised the black doll’s natural hairstyle. Mattel worked with wheelchair experts at UCLA Mattel Children’s hospital to ensure the toy was ‘modeled after a real, rigid frame wheelchair’, resulting in chair that is sportier-looking and lacks the handles commonly seen on hospital chairs.
One Twitter user said: “I can’t even begin to express how happy I am that more and more young girls are growing up seeing themselves in Barbie.” Another commented: “A Black Barbie… with natural hair… in a wheelchair! This is the the representation that is needed for young girls playing with dolls and wishing they could see more that look like them or those around them.”
A spokesperson from Mattel commented: “Over the past few years, the Barbie Fashionistas range has evolved to be more reflective of the world girls see around them by introducing more than 100 new looks. In 2019 we are continuing this journey by adding dolls reflecting physical disabilities, including a wheelchair and prosthetic limb.”