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Barbie unveils its first-ever doll with hearing aids

Barbie unveils its first-ever doll with hearing aids

Published 11th May 2022
Credit: Mattel
Written by Leah Dolan, CNN
Barbie, the 63-year-old American doll manufacturer, is releasing a new set of dolls in June as part of its ongoing efforts towards diversity and inclusion. From creating the brand's first ever Barbie with hearing aids, to a Ken doll with the skin condition vitiligo, 2022's Fashionista line up -- which will be launched in Walmart, Target and Amazon -- will help kids "see themselves reflected," said Mattel's Global Head of Barbie Dolls, Lisa McKnight, in a press statement.
She added that children should also be encouraged to play with dolls that don't resemble them to help them "understand and celebrate the importance of inclusion."
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For the Barbie with hearing aids, the company sought the expertise of Dr. Jen Richardson, a leading practitioner in educational audiology, to help accurately imitate behind-the-ear devices for the toy. Richardson said the ponytailed-Barbie complete with hot pink hearing aid could inspire those who have experienced hearing loss. "I'm beyond thrilled for my young patients to see and play with a doll who looks like them," she said in a press release.
Male Barbie dolls will now be sold in less muscular body types. Credit: Mattel
Changes have been made to the stereotypical Barbie body type, too. From smaller chests to fuller-figures and even slender, less-muscular male dolls, the new toys are intended to be more representative of varied body types.
The 2022 Barbie Fashionista line-up. Credit: Mattel
Barbie's range of dolls have become increasingly diverse in recent years. In 2019 they released a blonde, blue-eyed Barbie in a wheelchair and a brunette doll with a prosthetic leg. In 2020, the company unveiled a Black Barbie with the skin condition vitiligo -- it became one of the best sellers from the Fashionista line in the US that year, according to the company. Similarly in 2021, a Black doll with an afro hairstyle was a global success, ranking as one of the top five most popular models worldwide.
Top image: Barbie's first ever doll with hearing aids, on sale from June 2022.
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