Insight & Analysis

Barbie doll with scoliosis unveiled to highlight the ‘power of representation’

Published: Feb 2023

A toy company has made history after introducing its first barbie doll with scoliosis.

In the past, Mattel has been criticised for creating dolls that are too thin and sexualised, so in the hope of diversifying its range, the company has unveiled its most recent creation.

Barbie’s little sister, Chelsea, will see a new addition that features curvature of the spine and a removable back brace. The aim is to normalise the equipment and encourage children to celebrate inclusion.

The team at the toy company worked closely with Dr. Luke Macyszyn, a board-certified neurosurgeon and specialist in children’s complex spinal disorders, who was on hand to advise the designers throughout the development of the new doll.

Celebrating inclusivity

Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel, said: “We believe in the power of representation and are committed to creating dolls in a variety of looks so that kids can see themselves in Barbie – and now in a line celebrating Barbie’s little sister, Chelsea.”

In hopes of creating a conversation, McKnight added: “Our Chelsea line provides infinitely more ways to spark storytelling, all while providing kids with a way to develop their empathy and social processing skills through doll play.”

The company have been creating a more diverse range of dolls, which included: wheelchair-using dolls, plus size, Hijab-wearing and sign language dolls. In 2022 it also released its first Barbie with hearing aids.

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