photo: Giphy

In February, Barbie announced that it would be releasing a line of diverse dolls with disabilities. Plus Ken got a makeover, too, with three new body types. This is a part of Mattel's push for more inclusive dolls; in 2017 the brand expanded their dolls to include curvy, petite, and tall bodies. 

The collection is titled the Fashionista Dolls, and the focus is around the doll's love for fashion as opposed to their appearance. The move towards inclusivity has been well received, especially after one person on Twitter saw a doll on store shelves. 

The doll represents multiple intersectional identities as a person of color wearing natural hair and using a wheelchair. Of course, this isn't the first doll with a wheelchair that Barbie has created. In the '90s Barbie released a doll using a wheelchair that infamously was not compatible with Barbie's Dream House. Now, the doll is entirely accessibility friendly and even comes with its own ramp. 

Seeing a doll represent multiple identities on store shelves meant a lot. 

This person took a picture of the doll at a retailer, and shared it to Twitter. They wrote," THERE’S NOW A BARBIE IN A WHEELCHAIR. i can’t even begin to express how happy i am that more and more young girls are growing up seeing themselves in Barbie." This doll, plus one with a prosthetic leg raise awareness for disability rights and representation. 

Mattel released a doll in the '90s who used a wheelchair, but discontinued it because it was not compatible with other Barbie accessories like the Barbie Dream House. 

One person remembered Barbie's original doll with a wheelchair after seeing the updated version. The tweet reads, "They had a barbie in a wheelchair when I was a kid too, years ago. I'm super glad they have another barbie in a wheelchair, and she's black to boot. Becky was my favorite to play with and this brings back nice memories. I bet this new doll will be someone's favorite too!"

Unfortunately, the doll was infamously discontinued despite its positive reception. The doll couldn't fit in the Dream House, so instead of changing the structure of the house to fit the brand's new character it rejected her. It was obviously disappointing to Barbie fans everywhere. The house wasn't made accessible, until now.

This is the first person of color using a wheelchair that Barbie has released. 

Barbie has been around for decades, and progressive moves weren't made until now. Thankfully, the brand has listened to customers and their desire for diverse dolls. One person wrote on Twitter that they wished this doll had been around when they were young.

"They made barbies with wheel chairs in the late 90s. I had one! But now I'm jealous bc this one is black and afro puffs also!!! I might buy it just because," the tweet reads. 

Barbie has a long way to go but is clearly listening to customers who want more inclusive products. 

One person on Twitter felt seen after a doll that resembled their traits was made available. "Dude like representation like this is so important. I saw a Barbie in target a while ago that like was short and had a similar body type to me and it made me really happy. I’m so glad Barbie is doing this so more girls can see themselves with the doll and be like, “hey that’s me!" 

While there is still a long way to go for all of the other identities, like plus size people, efforts are being made. Even though Barbie released a "curvy" doll, it wasn't an entirely accurate representation of most plus size people. But overall the brand is putting in work for inclusivity. 

The packaging focuses on the doll's personality and that she's a part of the Fashionista collection as opposed to being a wheelchair user. 

One person was grateful that the brand has been maintaining the focus on the doll's personality and other characteristics as opposed to the disability. They replied in a tweet, "I love how good the packaging is as well! It shows the fact that she's a wheelchair user, but doesn't make it the focus showing that disabled people are people too. It's such a basic thing that's *so* often ignored."

When Barbie's first doll in a wheelchair released it also placed focus on other aspects of its story, such as Becky the school photographer or Paralympic Becky. 

Fans were so excited to see themselves represented in a Barbie doll. 

One person on Twitter truly couldn't contain their joy for the new toy. "There isn’t merely a Barbie in a wheelchair. THERE IS A BLACK BARBIE IN A WHEELCHAIR. I REPEAT, SIS IS BLACK!!!!" they wrote. Further proving that customers are here for the new looks Barbie is giving the dolls. Producing a doll that features natural hair is also a new step for the brand, and one that they have leaned into fully. Many of the dolls in their collection have afros as opposed to the typical pin straight hair they've had in the past. 

Barbie announced the new dolls in February, but this specific doll wasn't a part of the ad campaign. 

This particular doll came as a surprise to many because she wasn't featured in the original advertisements for the Fashionista Dolls. The brand partnered with Jordan Reeves, a disability activist, to create the doll with a prosthetic limb. Reeves, 13, was born without a left forearm, and wanted to help make the doll feel as realistic as possible. 

"Over the years, the #Barbie#Fashionistas line has evolved to be more reflective of the world girls see around them. We’re excited to expand our offerings as the most diverse and inclusive doll line in the world. Shop the new Fashionistas this Fall! #Barbie60," the brand wrote on Instagram in celebration of the new line and its 60th anniversary. 

Barbie Fashionistas Doll #133 Brunette with Rolling Wheelchair and Ramp (Target, $20)

Black Barbie in a wheelchair with ramp
photo: Mattel

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The doll is available at certain retailers, including Target. The rest of the dolls in the Fashionistas collection are set to release in Fall 2019, so even more representation is on the way. Barbie has evolved in the best way from the first doll in 1959, and it's clear that fans are in support of the positive change.