new barbie line
photo: Mattel
Mattel is making moves toward inclusivity and further broadening its definition of beauty by releasing a new variety of Barbie dolls.

The company recently announced that it's adding a Barbie in a wheelchair and another with a prosthetic limb to its Fashionistas collection. There are also dolls with new hair styles and textures as well as body types coming soon. Mattel has been listening more and more to consumer demands over the past few years, making giant strides toward inclusion. This is just the latest step in the company's effort to "better represent the people and the world kids see around them."

When Mattel first created Barbie in 1959, she was an unrealistically thin, blonde doll with an interest in fashion. But she's come a long way since then.

Over the years, Barbie has evolved to become more representative of real women in terms of careers — she's been a doctor, a robotics engineer, an architect, etc. — and in the past few years, in terms of body types and colors. 

"For 60 years, Barbie has been a reflection of culture and fashion and that is key to the brand’s continued relevance," Kim Culmone, Global Head of Design for Barbie, told GMA. "As we design Barbie for the next generation, we are focused on evolving to remain the most diverse doll line in the marketplace."

Mattel's Fashionistas collection, which first launched in 2016, is its most diverse collection yet. It includes four different body types, various skin tones, hair, and eye colors.

And the company just revealed it will debut a doll that uses a wheelchair and a doll with a removable prosthetic leg as part of its diverse Fashionistas line, due out in June.

According to Mattel, the wheelchair has been one of the most requested accessories from young Barbie fans.

In a press release, the company said its inspiration behind creating the new dolls was to further expand its definition of beautiful.

"As a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them into our fashion doll line to further showcase a multidimensional view of beauty and fashion," it said.

It's worth noting that this isn't the first time Mattel created a doll in a wheelchair. Back in 1997, the brand introduced "Share-a-Smile Becky," a Barbie friend who used a wheelchair.

barbie share-a-smile becky
photo: Mattel

She wasn't around for long though. She was discontinued by Mattel when it realized Becky wasn't compatible with other Barbie accessories, such as the Barbie Dream House.

Hopefully Mattel learned its lesson about accessibility from its past mistakes. 

The new doll will supposedly have an articulated body, so she can easily sit in her provided chair, and will sell as a set with a compatible Dream House ramp. The doll, ramp, and wheelchair will sell for about $19.99.

As for the doll with the prosthetic leg, Mattel said it collaborated with 12-year-old Jordan Reeves, who has a prosthetic arm. 

According to Culmone, Reeves was an imperative part of the design process. He was the one who suggested the prosthetic be removable to be more realistic. "That was one of our first big ahas," Culmone said. "That’s not necessarily something we would have realized how important it would be to someone living with this experience."

Naturally, people are over the moon about the news.

Many people praised the Fashionistas collection, in particular, for being incredibly diverse. This is just the latest step the brand has taken to become more inclusive of real people.

Even adults are planning on buying these brand-new dolls.

Many women (and men!) with disabilities have been waiting their entire lives to have a toy representative of themselves. Their inner children are screaming!

Fans are hoping Mattel will continue to expand upon this line, as there are still many different abilities left without representation.

One Twitter user suggested things like electric wheelchairs, service dogs, hearing aids, and even a diabetes kit. Oh, and Ken dolls with disabilities should also be added.

Along with the new dolls with disabilities, there are also new body types being added to the Fashionistas line.

The new body types include a smaller bust, less defined waist, and more defined arms. The move was "designed to inspire girls to tell more stories and find a doll that speaks to them," according to the company.

The upcoming release will also include a doll with natural hair texture and another with braids.

mattel barbie fashionistas additions
photo: Mattel

The brand has faced backlash regarding hair texture in the past, so this is definitely a step in the right direction for Mattel. Listening to consumers definitely pays off.

The new line of Barbies won't be available until June. 

But while you wait, you can browse the existing dolls in the Fashionistas line on the Barbie website.

Kudos to Mattel for broadening its perception of beauty and for helping young girls feel seen.

"It is a continuation of our mission to really show all girls they have limitless potential, that it's not the end," Culmone said of the new line. "This is just a continuing commitment that's about the present and the future."