barbie gives inclusivity another try with new wheelchair and a prosthetic limb

barbie gives inclusivity another try with new wheelchair and a prosthetic limb

barbie is making moves to broaden the definition of beautiful. in june, mattel will debut a doll that uses a wheelchair and a doll with a removable prosthetic leg as part of its barbie fashionistas line. the american toy manufacturing company has made a habit of listening to consumer demands in recent years, releasing barbies with more diverse body types and colors. it has also given barbies a wider range of aspirational careers including doctor, pilot and robotics engineer.

barbie gives inclusivity another try with new wheelchair and a prosthetic limb

barbie fashionistas line

images © mattel unless stated otherwise



as a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them into our fashion doll line to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion‘, mattel said in a press release. over the years, the [barbie fashionistas] line has evolved to be more reflective of the world girls see around them. we’re excited to expand our offerings as the most diverse and inclusive doll line in the world’, it notes on its instagram.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Barbie (@barbie) on



here’s a little bit of barbie history for you: this isn’t the first time creators have tried to make back the doll’s world more inclusive. back in 1997 mattel introduced ‘wheelchair becky’, a barbie friend who used a wheel chair. she wasn’t around for long though. as it turned out the wheelchair wasn’t compatible with other barbie accessories and mattel had to rejig the doll, giving her a different chair and shorter hair (which would get stuck in the wheels). eventually she vanished after being re-branded and successfully sold as ‘share-a-smile becky’, with many speculating that mattel stopped producing more wheelchair dolls because it would require changing all other barbie products. 

barbie gives inclusivity another try with new wheelchair and a prosthetic limb

share-a-smile becky
image via newmobility



expected later this year, the doll intended for the wheelchair will have an articulated body so she can easily sit in the chair, but other dolls within the made to move line can also be used with the wheelchair. the new release of fashionista dolls will include models with braided hair texture and new body types including a smaller bust, less defined waist and more defined arms. the doll, wheelchair, and compatible dreamhouse ramp will retail for $19.99 USD. other fashionista dolls sell for $9.99, including the doll with the removable prosthetic limb.


in other news, new emojis continue to emphasise inclusivity with new options including a guide dog, hindu temple, symbols for the deaf and disabled as well as an emoji of two people holding hands with a total of 171 gender and skin and hair tone variations.

  • Unicorn believer == Brexit Barbie…. But as someone who worked for a company swallowed by Mattel it is fun to see them making an effort/maximising small rejigs on production
    (openess – always had a soft spot for Barbie)

    mikka says:
  • That is what I call inclusive design, bravo!!! what about the price? is it inclusive too? Is there a trans Barbie?

    martin says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

design news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
504,291 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine