Mattel diversifies Barbie and Ken with afros, vitiligo and hearing aids

The full 2022 Barbie Fashionista line will be available in June

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Mattel has rolled out its most diverse and inclusive Barbie doll line to date with the Fashionistas collection. 

The new set of dolls was designed to help kids “see themselves reflected,” said Mattel’s Global Head of Barbie Dolls, Lisa McKnight, in a press statement, CNN reports.

The line includes the first Barbie with behind-the-ear hearing aids, a Ken doll with vitiligo, a new fashionista doll with a prosthetic leg, and dolls with a variety of body types, including ones with smaller busts and ones curvier than the original Barbie. 

Ken doll with vitiligo, Black Barbie with Afro-puffs and Barbie with a hearing aid (Credit: Mattel)

McKnight hopes children will select and enjoy toys with which they do not share common physical traits so that they appreciate and “celebrate the importance of inclusion.”

She added, “Barbie wholeheartedly believes in the power of representation, and as the most diverse doll line on the market, we are committed to continuing to introduce dolls featuring a range of skin tones, body types and disabilities to reflect the diversity kids see in the world around them,” said McKnight.

The 63-year-old American company teamed with Dr. Jen Richardson, a leading practitioner in educational audiology, to help design the behind-the-ear devices for the dolls. 

Barbie Fashionistas Prosthetic Leg Doll Pose 1 (Credit: Mattel)

“I’m honored to have worked with Barbie to create an accurate reflection of a doll with behind-the-ear hearing aids. As an educational audiologist with over 18 years of experience working in hearing loss advocacy, it’s inspiring to see those who experience hearing loss reflected in a doll. I’m beyond thrilled for my young patients to see and play with a doll who looks like them,” said Dr. Richardson.

Since its inception, Barbie has introduced more than 175+ looks, offering a variety of skin tones, eye colors, hair colors and textures, fashions, body types and disabilities to choose from.

The first-ever Barbie had blond hair, blue eyes, and her svelte figure was clad in a bathing suit.  

In 2021, Barbie released a doll with a wheelchair and a Black doll with an Afro hairstyle. Both were reportedly among the top five most popular toys with buyers globally.  

The full 2022 Barbie Fashionista line will be available at Amazon, Target, and Walmart in June.

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