Inclusivity Gains Momentum: Barbie, Wheelchairs and Prosthetic Limbs

Applauded for its greater inclusivity, the new Fashionista line of Barbie dolls includes dolls with wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs.

Pushing the barriers of social stigma, the new Fashionistas Barbies are welcomed onto the market

Social media has exploded with praise for the new barbie dolls that come complete with Dreamhouse and ramp.

The line also continues Mattel’s growing number of dolls which have a variety of skin tones, hair textures and body types. It includes Barbies with a range of personalities and preferences from Peace & Love to Happy Hipster Barbie, some also wearing glasses.

CNN has reported that Mattel worked with the 13-year-old disability activist, Jordan Reeves to assist with the design concept. The company also collaborated with the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital to design the wheelchair.

Disability activist, Jordan Reeves sporting an innovative prosthetic was one of the masterminds behind the new Barbies release.

The release is in stark contrast to other companies who still refuse to cast off their rigid traditions of exclusion. Victoria’s Secret was recently criticised for failing to seize new opportunities for greater inclusiveness in its representations of beauty.

In a Vogue interview, Chief Marketing Officer for Victoria’s Secret, Ed Razek stated that they would not be using plus-sized or transgender models in its fashion show. He said that this was because the brand was supposed to represent a “fantasy”.

But what is Barbie if not belonging to the realm of “fantasy”? Victoria’s Secret needs to step up to the plate if it wants to continue staying relevant with today’s millennials who prize authenticity over prestige.

Other brands such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, launched in 2017, was applauded for its social progressiveness because she included a wide variety of shades in her makeup range. However, she too avoided using transgender women in her advertising, a move which was questioned by one fan via Instagram.

In response Rihanna commented that, “I don’t think it’s fair that a transgender woman or man be used as a convenient marketing tool!”

Yes, she is right in one respect that no one should be used in such a way. But years ago, without the social pressure that exists now, the only models you would see on fashion ads were white blondes.

It may be naive to expect companies to act with fairness without the gnawing incentive of the bottom-line.

Let us know which brands you think could be doing more to promote inclusivity and which ones are succeeding in the comments!