In wheelchairs, range of modern Barbies
SHE’S come a long way since her 1959 debut as a pneumatic blonde in a zebra stripe swimsuit and kitten heels.
Next month a more inclusive range of Barbies will be waiting under the nation’s Christmas trees – including one doll in a wheelchair and another with a prosthetic leg. Manufacturer Mattel tried to introduce a wheelchair Barbie in 1997, but it was criticised by disability rights campaigners when it emerged the chair didn’t fit through the doors of Barbie’s ‘Dream House’.
The new model comes with a pink wheelchair ramp that makes it compatible with Barbiebranded buildings.
‘It’s wonderful to see one of the world’s most iconic toys embracing disability’, said Warren Kirwan, of disability equality charity Scope. ‘Disabled children should have the opportunity to play with toys that represent them and their lives. Change requires action at all levels and everyone can play their part and we hope more toy manufacturers follow suit.’
The move follows years of criticism of Barbie, which has been accused of helping to create a false impression of the idealised female body.
In order to reflect a world more in tune with gender fluidity and diversity awareness, the toy brand introduced ‘gender-inclusive’ dolls in September with no obvious curves and far less pink clothing.
And in 2016, Mattel’s Fashionista line offered three new body types – tall, curvy and petite – along with a wider choice of skin tones. The latest toys, released in June, are now included on the Toy Retailers Association’s annual list of playthings predicted to be best-sellers this Christmas.
Latest versions: In wheelchair and prosthetic leg 2019
Debut: Bathing belle Barbie 1959