Barbie, launched by Mattel toy company in 1959, has been an American staple seemingly forever. It was my first doll growing up — and probably yours too. And while the traditional Barbie — with blonde hair and blue eyes — was the sole option for far too long, Mattel has gone out of its way in recent years to be more inclusive. And now the brand has outdone itself with the launch of a Black, natural-haired Barbie in a wheelchair.
Double diversity! The doll launched this month, for $19.99, as part of Mattel’s inclusive 2019 Fashionistas line. It features a wheelchair that actually fits in the Barbie house (an issue with an early Barbie named Becky who also had a wheelchair…that didn’t fit inside her home. Ugh.) According to Kim Culmone, global head of design for Barbie, who spoke to GMA, the Barbie wheelchair has been one of the most requested accessories from young Barbie fans for years.
Culmone told GMA that for 60 years, Barbie has been a reflection of culture and fashion and that is key to the brand’s continued relevance. As we design Barbie for the next generation, we are focused on evolving to remain the most diverse doll line in the marketplace. This year our Barbie line will include dolls reflecting physical disabilities in order to better represent the people and the world kids see around them. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is a critical component of our design process and we are proud that today’s kids will know a different image and experience of the brand.”
What a difference indeed. And as one might expect, Twitter is freaking out. Here’s what folks had to say:
A Barbie in a wheelchair, with a ramp for the Dreamhouse? I know what I'm getting my daughter for her birthday!https://t.co/G9azUslEkF
— Mussina HOF (@Mussina_HOF) July 1, 2019
A Black, visibly disabled Barbie, with natural hair!?
AND HER WHEELCHAIR ISNT A UGLY HOSPITAL CHAIR!
We love representation! https://t.co/Cp7Z3Qal7d
— Off Colour (@OffColourOrg) June 28, 2019
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! pic.twitter.com/HTgaOh2pDh
— Wade ☾ "I can't breathe" (@anlitlecreachur) June 28, 2019
And our hearts can’t take this last one. Great job Mattel.
— Nicole Lemelle (@nclark140) June 28, 2019
Other dolls from the Fashionista line.