In a move for more diversity, Barbie released new designs including a doll with the skin condition vitiligo, a hairless doll, and a black doll with a prosthetic limb. In a statement, Mattel says they are attempting to showcase “a multidimensional view of beauty and fashion” through new additions to its Barbie Fashionistas line. The line debuted in 2015 and now includes 170 unique looks featuring 9 body types, 35 skin tones, and 94 hairstyles, according to their site.
More skin tones!
More body types!
More unique looks!
Express yourself with #Barbie #Fashionistas – the most diverse doll line. 💕 Shop now: https://t.co/zTVjMZsjVy. #WeAreBarbie pic.twitter.com/l176Wvzj0z
— Barbie (@Barbie) January 28, 2020
Mattel shared that a prototype of the vitiligo doll which debuted on Instagram became their most-liked post ever, proving there was a lot of interest. They worked with a dermatologist to ensure that they accurately represented what the autoimmune condition that causes loss of pigmentation on the skin looks like. Regarding the Barbie with no hair, they said, “If a girl is experiencing hair loss for any reason, she can see herself reflected in the line.” Some of the causes of hair loss include chemotherapy and alopecia, a condition that causes balding in some or all areas of the body.
Last year they worked with disability activist Jordan Reeves, who was born without a left forearm, as they developed their first doll with a prosthetic limb. Reeves co-founded the nonprofit Born Just Right — which develops “creative solutions that help kids with disabilities live a more enjoyable life.” This year they added a new doll with a darker complexion and a gold prosthetic leg. Last year they also added a doll in a wheelchair and for this collection, they once again brought the doll back due to popularity. The two bestselling United Kingdom Barbie Fashionista dolls of 2019 were ones in wheelchairs, according to Mattel, New York Daily News reports.
In addition to releasing their first-ever vitiligo and hairless doll, they’re also debuting a Ken doll with “long rooted hair” after Ken has traditionally had painted hair.
Mattel has been working to feature more diversity these last few years including dolls with smaller busts, larger biceps, and realistic waistlines and features, straying from the traditional blonde and unnaturally thin Barbie.
Mashable reports that the curvy black Fashionista with an afro hairstyle was the top-selling doll almost every week in 2019. They’ve showcased more diverse cultural icons including Frida Kahlo and a La Calavera Catrina doll for Dia de Los Muertos in 2018 and 2019, and both were extremely popular. They also debuted a Barbie with a hijab in 2017.
“We are proud that Barbie is the most diverse doll line on the market that continues to evolve to better reflect the world girls see around them,” Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie and its dolls portfolio said. Both the doll with vitiligo and the long-haired Ken doll are available for purchase now. The rest of the 2020 line will be available this summer.