Mattel’s Barbie is constantly pushing the boundaries when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and its latest efforts include a Barbie doll with hearing aids and a Ken doll with vitiligo. The dolls are part of Barbie’s new Fashionista line which also includes a doll with a prosthetic leg and slimmer, less muscular male dolls.
Barbie said in a tweet that her new Barbie fashion dolls are her “most diverse and inclusive line of dolls,” featuring a variety of skin tones, eye and hair colors, body types and of disabilities. Over 175 looks are included in the latest line, The Guardian said.
According to CBS News and The Guardian, Mattel worked with medical experts to ensure that the doll’s behind-the-ear hearing aids were accurately portrayed. He also enlisted the support of Dr. Jen Richardson, an expert in educational audiology.
Mattel’s global head of Barbie dolls, Lisa McKnight, explained that it’s important that children see themselves reflected in the products. The company also wanted to encourage children to play with dolls that don’t look like them to help them “understand that celebrating the importance of inclusion,” the media quoted McKnight as saying.
Barbie dolls with vitiligo first released in 2020 and Mattel previously said a prototype of the vitiligo toy became the most liked post after it debuted on the brand’s Instagram page in 2019, CNN reported. Alongside this, she also launched the first hijab-wearing Barbie in 2017, inspired by Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
This was followed by the release of the Creatable World line (pictured below) in 2019, which included gender-neutral inaugural dolls. The line included multiple wardrobe options, accessories, and wigs, allowing kids to create any character of any gender they wanted.
Kim Culmone, SVP of Mattel Fashion Doll Design, previously said that toys are a reflection of culture and as the world continues to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, Mattel felt it was time to create a line of dolls without labels.
“Through research, we’ve heard that children don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all children to express themselves freely, which is why it resonates so strongly with them. We hope Creatable World encourages people to think more broadly about how all children can benefit from doll play,” she added.
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