The New Barbie Wheelchair Update Is A Huge, Inclusive Statement
Once labeled as "fashion dolls," Barbies have become so much more than that for the children (and adults, hi there) who play with them. The most recent series of Barbies featuring vitiligo and prosthetic limbs joins the Barbies available in different sizes, hair styles, and skin tones so that kids are able to play with the iconic dolls while seeing themselves and others. And the latest change from Mattel to the Barbie line is sure to breed self-confidence and empathy in kids — all future campers, Dreamhouses, and other Barbie "estate items" will be wheelchair-accessible. That means ramps, room for Barbie's wheelchair to navigate, and even Dreamhouse elevators to accommodate Barbie in a wheelchair. Yeah, it's a huge deal.
At Toy Fair 2020, Romper got an incredible look at the wheelchair update to Barbie's Dreamhouse, and it was enough to make both me and our Managing Editor tear up. The Dreamhouse looks exactly like the one Santa brought my 5-year-old Alice last year, but the change is all in the elevator — it has been made larger and with a tiny little sloped ramp so that Barbie in her wheelchair can roll right up, back into the elevator, and still make her way to the top of her expansive Dreamhouse.
A rep for Mattel told us that this change will be evident on all future variations of Barbie's Dreamhouse, camper, and other living/estate items as they roll out. (Which means the current Dreamhouse you can buy in stores won't have the updated elevator.) The brand actually worked with someone who specializes in ADA compliance to make sure every new item from Barbie's line of incredible sets and accessories checked all of the boxes. It sounds like such a small thing to add to a play set, but oh, what a statement it makes. For children in wheelchairs, for children who see others in wheelchairs, for children who love someone in a wheelchair, this update is Barbie telling them that they are seen, that they are important — and that they are worth it.