Art doll

Barbie unveils her very first doll with hearing aids

Written by Lea Dolan, CNN

Barbie, the 63-year-old American doll maker, is launching a new set of dolls in June as part of its ongoing drive for diversity and inclusion. From creating the brand’s first-ever Barbie with hearing aids to a Ken doll with vitiligo, 2022’s Fashionista line – which will launch at Walmart, Target and Amazon – will help kids “see themselves reflected”, said Mattel said. Global Head of Barbie Dolls Lisa McKnight in a press release.

She added that children should also be encouraged to play with dolls that don’t look like them to help them “understand and celebrate the importance of inclusion”.

For the Barbie with hearing aids, the company enlisted the expertise of Dr. Jen Richardson, a leading practitioner in educational audiology, to help accurately mimic behind-the-ear devices for the toy. Richardson said the ponytailed Barbie with a bright pink hearing aid could inspire those who have experienced hearing loss. “I am thrilled that my young patients see and play with a doll that looks just like them,” she said in a press release.

Male Barbie dolls will now be sold in less muscular body types. Credit: Mattel

Changes have also been made to Barbie’s stereotypical body type. From smaller chests to fuller figures and even slim, less muscular male dolls, the new toys are meant to be more representative of varying body types.

The Barbie Fashionista 2022 range.

The Barbie Fashionista 2022 range. Credit: Mattel

The range of Barbie dolls has diversified in recent years. In 2019, they released a blue-eyed blonde Barbie in a wheelchair and a brunette doll with a prosthetic leg. In 2020, the company unveiled a black Barbie with vitiligo, which became one of the best-selling Fashionista line in the United States that year, according to the company. Also in 2021, a black doll with an afro hairstyle was a global hit, ranking among the top five most popular models in the world.

Top image: The first-ever Barbie doll with hearing aids, on sale from June 2022.