From winning an Olympic gold medal to flying a space shuttle, Barbie can do anything! She’s been encouraging kids to dream big, teaching kids empathy, and being a good role model since her inception in 1959. Now, Barbie’s 2022 Fashionistas line is launching in June to make even more kids feel included, special, and represented with its collection of diverse dolls — including the first ever Barbie with behind-the-ear hearing aids!
“Barbie wholeheartedly believes in the power of representation,” Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel, said in a statement. “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.”
Mattel worked with leading educational audiologist Jen Richardson, AuD, who has over 18 years’ experience in hearing loss advocacy, to ensure accuracy in the hearing aids in the Fashionistas line. “I’m honored to have worked with Barbie to create an accurate reflection of a doll with behind-the-ear hearing aids,” said Dr. Richardson.
“It’s inspiring to see those who experience hearing loss reflected in a doll,” added Dr. Richardson. “I'm beyond thrilled for my young patients to see and play with a doll who looks like them.”
Dolls in the 2022 Fashionistas line will further expand the way Barbie reflects real people. In addition to a doll with hearing loss, the line will also include the first Ken doll with vitiligo, a skin disease that causes gradual loss of skin color. He joins 2020’s Barbie with vitiligo, which was one of the top five Fashionistas best sellers in the U.S. There will also be a Barbie with a prosthetic leg, as well as more Barbie and Ken dolls in a variety of body types, hair styles, and fashion choices.
Throughout Barbie’s history, she’s had over 175 different looks, including a variety of skin tones, eye colors, hair colors and textures, body types, disabilities, and, of course, fashions, in order to “reflect a multi-dimensional view of beauty,” according to the brand. People don’t look the same, so toys shouldn’t either!
In 2016, Barbie launched a new curvy doll as a response to the backlash Barbie has faced over the years for her unrealistic body shape. And in 2021, Mattel released a Barbie with a wheelchair and a Black doll with an afro hairstyle, which were among the top five most popular Barbie dolls globally.
As a parent, it’s exciting to see these more diverse dolls, especially because a 2019 study reinforced the idea that young girls compare their bodies to Barbie when playing with the dolls, which may affect their body image development. More inclusive Barbie and Ken dolls will help more kids see themselves and their friends in their toys.
“It’s important for kids to see themselves reflected in product and to encourage play with dolls that don’t resemble them,” added McKnight, “to help them understand and celebrate the importance of inclusion.”
If you needed an excuse to buy another Barbie, now you’ve got one. Your kids (and you, TBH) will love these diverse new dolls!