Since Barbie's Fashionista line launched five years ago, Mattel has added a wide variety of dolls. Some differ in physical ways like skin tone and body type, while others reflect differently abled physical conditions that require the use of wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs.
In the 2020 line of Fashionistas, the new additions include a doll with vitiligo and a doll with no hair, in addition to a doll who uses a golden prosthetic leg. In a statement, Mattel says the line — now made up of 176 dolls with nine body types, 35 skin tones and 94 hairstyles — "is continuing the journey to represent global diversity and inclusivity in the fashion doll aisle ... by adding a doll with the skin condition vitiligo, a doll with no hair, a doll with a darker skin tone that uses a gold prosthetic limb, and a Ken with long rooted hair (all for the first-time)."
Mattel worked with a dermatologist to ensure that vitiligo was appropriately represented. The company hopes the doll will allow kids to "play out even more stories they see in the world around them," according to its statement.
The doll without hair was designed for girls who may be experiencing hair loss.
The 2020 Fashionistas also include a doll with dark skin tone who uses a prosthetic limb and a Ken doll with long rooted hair. (Ken dolls normally have plastic hair.)
As the mom of a 9-year-old daughter who loves playing with Barbies, I've seen a desire for diverse dolls firsthand. My daughter couldn't wait to purchase dolls who use wheelchairs or prosthetic limbs, and she prefers Barbies who are curvy, petite, tall, or who have a different skin tone than her own.
"Mom, this Barbie is in a wheelchair because she made a mistake and got into a car with a friend who was drunk driving," she'll tell me before asking me what other things could have happened that required the doll to need a wheelchair.
"She lost her leg as a child when she had cancer," she'll pretend with the prosthetic limb Barbie, then remember to talk to me about her worries about a child at school who she heard had surgery for a brain tumor.
As a family who tries to talk openly about different types of people, families and situations, I love seeing her play out things that happen outside our walls and develop an understanding of how interesting, challenging and sometimes scary the world can be.
When I learned that a Barbie Fashionista with vitiligo was on shelves, I quickly ordered one for pick-up at our local Target. I can't wait to see how she incorporates this beautiful new doll into her growing understanding of the world. And yes, I ordered the long-haired Ken on Amazon, because why not?