- On Twitter, many people are praising Mattel for making a black Barbie doll who has natural hair and uses a wheelchair. The doll retails for $19.99, and comes with a ramp that fits inside Barbie Dreamhouses.
- The new doll, which launched in June after being announced in February, is the first black Barbie to use a wheelchair.
- People have pointed out that the wheelchair is made without handles, which they say they appreciate as the style is more casual and doesn’t look like those commonly found in hospitals.
- Mattel previously sold Barbies who used wheelchairs in the ’90s, though they were seemingly discontinued because their wheelchairs didn’t fit inside the brand’s toy houses at the time.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
A black Barbie who wears her natural hair and uses a wheelchair has become an internet sensation.
The doll is the first black Barbie to use a wheelchair, and is featured in Mattel’s Fashionista line, which is a part of the company’s ongoing attempt to create more inclusive toys. The Barbie was announced during the New York Toy Fair in February 2019, and officially launched in June.
Mattel’s newest doll retails for $19.99 and can be purchased from Target and other major retailers around the world.
People are praising Mattel for creating a black doll who wears a natural hairstyle and uses a wheelchair
On Thursday, a Twitter user shared a photo of the Barbie, which comes with a ramp so that the doll can access Barbie Dreamhouses.
“THERE’S NOW A BARBIE IN A WHEELCHAIR,” the Twitter user wrote on Thursday. “I can’t even begin to express how happy I am that more and more young girls are growing up seeing themselves in Barbie.”
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 pic.twitter.com/XL2PEetu6G
— julienne @ death mountain crater???? (@summersnoqueen) June 27, 2019
Others soon followed, and began to praise everything from the doll’s natural hairstyle to the design of her wheelchair, which they say matches the style of ones used every day rather than those commonly found in hospitals.
Description: black Barbie sitting in a wheelchair. Barbie has hair in buns and is smiling(still inside box) https://t.co/r3PH9xVwq9
— Bird is gay ???????????????????????????? (@mynameisthebird) June 28, 2019
There isn’t merely a Barbie in a wheelchair.
THERE IS A BLACK BARBIE IN A WHEELCHAIR.
I REPEAT, SIS IS BLACK!!!! ???????????????????????????????????????? https://t.co/I9FcGdG1UV
— Crutches THEE Spice ♿️ (@Imani_Barbarin) June 28, 2019
A Black, visibly disabled Barbie, with natural hair!?
AND HER WHEELCHAIR ISNT A UGLY HOSPITAL CHAIR!
We love representation! https://t.co/Cp7Z3Qal7d
— Nerdy PoC (@NerdyPoC) June 28, 2019
This is done right in every way possible.
•In a wheel chair
•Fashonista line (showing this character loves fashion and not focusing on the wheelchair) https://t.co/Zj53NHWlaY
— disabledbitch (@disabledbitch1) June 28, 2019
And it’s not a hospital style chair, either! (seeing as most wheelchairs are shown having handles even though many people have chairs without them)
— Jackie (@xxxSouthpaw) June 28, 2019
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!”
— alondra ???? @ μ’sic forever!! (@constarlations) June 28, 2019
I got one. Barbie sent me both wheelchair dolls and the one with the prosthetic leg. All the ladies look different. I was really pleased to see the diversity. https://t.co/9NvmjdPf7c
— Jessica Jewett Jones (@JJ9828) June 28, 2019
This Barbie also has natural hair. I’ve admittedly not kept up on where our gal Barbie’s at these days, but a natural hair black Barbie also seems notable, in addition to positively representing disability. https://t.co/ovv1eDW4rC
— ✨Prof✨ (@EGBridges) June 28, 2019
And with beautiful Afro puffs!!!!!
— torie horton (@torielicious) June 28, 2019
Mattel’s newest doll was inspired by real girls who use wheelchairs
In a statement sent to INSIDER, a Mattel representative said the new doll was introduced to the Fashionistas line alongside others to help the collection “be more reflective of the world girls see around them.” The toy was also designed with real girls, and wheelchairs, in mind.
“To design the wheelchair, the team collaborated with partners at UCLA Mattel Children’s hospital and wheelchair experts to create a toy that is modeled after a real, rigid-frame wheelchair,” a Mattel representative told INSIDER.
Inspiration for the doll also came from the Starlight Children’s Foundation, a Canadian organization that aims to “bring joy, laughter, relief, and a whole lot of smiles” to sick children, according to its website.
On Twitter, the foundation announced that a portion of the doll’s sales at Toys R Us Canada will be donated to a Canadian chapter of the organization from now until December 31, 2019.
Today @Barbie and @toysruscanada unveiled the new Wheelchair Barbie inspired by a @StarlightCanada teen. Until the end of the year a portion of the proceeds from sales of this #Barbie will be in benefit of #StarlightStrong #giftedexperience #youcanbeanything pic.twitter.com/FDNe8TgiYq
— Yashy Murphy (@YashYanthi) June 27, 2019
“While the doll is a part of our Fashionistas line, we continue to honor diverse role models, like Starlight teen Daniella, to continue to show girls they can be anything,” Mattel representatives told INSIDER.
Mattel announced its Fashionista line of Barbies in February 2019
Some dolls in the line were designed to have more diverse body types and hairstyles, while others use wheelchairs and have prosthetic legs.
Speaking to INSIDER, the Mattel representative said the Fashionistas collection is meant to be inspiring for young girls.
“The variety offered within the Fashionistas line is designed to inspire girls to tell more stories and find a doll that speaks to them,” the Mattel representative said.
The representative also said the line will “continue to evolve” over time.
- Courtesy of Mattel
Then, in March 2019, Mattel announced that it would be celebrating Barbie’s 60th birthday by releasing its most diverse line of dolls in the brand’s history. The launch also celebrated International Women’s Day, as each toy from the line was designed to look like remarkable women who are dominating various industries.
Women like tennis player Naomi Osaka, model Adwoa Aboah, and actress Yara Shahidi were all represented in the collection.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) March 7, 2019
Mattel has sold Barbies who use wheelchairs in the past
In response to Mattel’s newest dolls, some people shared photos and stories of similar dolls they had as children on Twitter. Many were also quick to point out that Mattel discontinued the original dolls, as the dolls’ wheelchairs didn’t fit inside Barbie Dreamhouses that were available at the time.
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 ☾ angry ace gay (@littlespoonthor) June 28, 2019
There was a Barbie in a wheelchair back in the 90s and her wheelchair infamously didn't fit through the Dreamhouse doors. Hopefully this one is more accessible ❤️
— Scarlett Harris (@ScarlettEHarris) June 28, 2019
This isn't Mattel's first try though, I hope they learned from their mistakes. In the 90s, Barbie had a friend called Becky who used a wheelchair. Great and good, except Becky couldn't get inside Barbie's Dream House or use the lift. Barbie's world didn't fit Becky. How telling.
— Leanne Weston (@identykit) February 18, 2019
It appears that these Barbies from the ’90s were the last to use wheelchairs until now. According to listings for the vintage dolls that are currently on eBay, all of the toys appear to have been white with light-colored hair.
- Read more:
- Barbie turns 60 this year. Here are 25 of the coolest jobs she’s had.
- This photo of a black Barbie doll’s hairstyle is dividing the internet – and some think it fails to represent how black women actually style their hair
- You can now stay in a Barbie-inspired suite that will make you feel like a kid again
- Here’s what Barbie looked like the year you were born