Mattel has launched a black Barbie in a wheelchair – and people love it

Fans are celebrating the message of diversity this new doll brings

Mattel has added a black Barbie to its 2019 Fashionistas Line. Courtesy Mattel
Mattel has added a black Barbie to its 2019 Fashionistas Line. Courtesy Mattel

Earlier this year, Mattel announced its 2019 Barbie collection to much acclaim. The new figurines, which includes the first Barbie in a wheelchair and with a prosthetic leg, aims to offer children a more diverse representation of beauty – far beyond that of the slender, leggy, blue-eyed blonde we're used to seeing.

Now, a new doll has been released in the US: a black Barbie with natural hair, also in a wheelchair. And the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Welcome to this new Barbie, who will represent so many beautiful girls!" wrote one Twitter user.

"I can't even begin to express how happy I am that more and more young girls are growing up seeing themselves in Barbie," wrote another.

"There isn't merely a Barbie in a wheelchair. There is a black Barbie in a wheelchair. I repeat, sis is black!" added another.

Changing the conversation

"As a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them in our fashion doll line to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion," Mattel said in a statement when it revealed plans for the Barbie Fashionistas line, which debuted this month.

The American toy company collaborated with UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital and other experts to create a realistic wheelchair, which it says is one of the most requested accessories from Barbie fans. A ramp that can be affixed to the Barbie DreamHouse has also been released.

Interestingly, another (white) doll called Becky, who was Barbie's friend and came with a wheelchair, was released in 1997, but it was later discontinued as it didn't fit into the DreamHouse. "I'm super glad they have another Barbie in a wheelchair, and she's black to boot," another Twitter user chipped in. "Becky was my favorite to play with and this brings back nice memories. I bet this new doll will be someone's favorite too!"

Mattel also worked with Jordan Reeves, a 13-year-old disability activist who was born without a left forearm, to create another doll with a prosthetic limb, which can be removed for a "more realistic" play experience.

It comes as part of an effort by the company to portray more diversity through its dolls by also offering a wider range of skin shades, eye colours, hairstyles and body types. This all follows the introduction of the first hijab-wearing Barbie in 2017.

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Read more:

Diverse dolls: Barbie now comes with a prosthetic limb and a wheelchair

From Adwoa Aboah to Bindi Irwin: meet Barbie's new Sheroes

Barbie celebrates Indian, Turkish, Japanese and Chinese role models on 60th birthday

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Updated: June 30, 2019 03:00 PM

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