My Barbie Dream House: The First “Wheelchair Barbie” comes to life!
The toy giant Mattel Inc. finally responds to the demand for inclusion and representation by creating a new series of Barbie’s that will represent how the world truly looks.
Growing up as a little girl in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, I can remember playing with all types of toys, from Power Wheels and electric toy remote control Race Cars to the every popular Barbie doll. Back then there wasn’t much representation of color when it came to the toys available. The toy giant, Mattel states the first African-American doll, Christie, was introduced in 1969 and the more notable African-American Barbie was introduced in 1980, both dolls still featured Caucasian features.
I can’t speak for others but for me, I can vividly remember going down the aisles of Toys-R-Us and I never once saw an African-American Barbie on the shelves, nor did I ever receive an African-American Barbie doll for a gift as a child. This “Black Barbie” didn’t exist in my reality.
Not until 2009, did Mattel introduce an accurate depiction of “Black Barbie,” clearly well past my doll playing days, but at least there was finally a representation that little black girls could have as their own. But what about the children that had physical disabilities? Well we were just out of luck; Mattel didn’t see it necessary to include a Barbie for the 1 billion people in the world with physical disabilities… according to Respectability, an advocacy group for people with disabilities.
As a little black girl growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s with a disability, I was not seen, heard, or valued. That feeling didn’t begin to change until 2019 when Mattel recently released a new series of Barbie’s. The 2019 Barbie Fashionistas line. This Fashionistas line, releasing in June 2019, will feature a doll with a prosthetic leg and a doll that comes with a wheelchair. It doesn’t stop there… it get better! Mattel took it a step further and is revamping the famous Barbie Dream House and retrofitting it to include a ramp for the “wheelchair Barbie!"
Let me tell you, I have never been one to collect Barbie’s or other toy’s but the minute this Barbie and Barbie Dream House is released I will be purchasing this and keeping it as a reminder that change can happen and inclusion can be achieved if we keep breaking the glass ceiling on traditionalism and fear of honoring the differences in one another. For some, this Barbie is just another toy on the shelves, just another doll that will be bought, but for every differently-abled little girl, this plastic doll breathes life into her heart. It makes her feel as if she matters, that she is finally being seen and valued. She no longer has to play with a doll that doesn’t resemble her life or look like her. This “Wheelchair Barbie” makes it ok for her to begin to accept her life and love herself that much more, because she is just as normal as anyone else.
God-willing, if I am blessed to be a Mother, I will proudly purchase this “Wheelchair Barbie” for my daughter, even if she is not differently-abled, because I want her to grow up knowing that different is beautiful no matter what it looks like. It took me 33 years to reach this mindset, thank God it won’t take the new generation of children that long to embrace and love themselves and all the parts that make you special.
Thank you Mattel, for finally acknowledging our presence and valuing our uniqueness. This is the first step to many more milestones!
Until next time, this is my world… on wheelz!