Sophie Lewis – CBS News
Barbie is branding itself as the “most diverse doll line” on the market after unveiling a slew of new dolls featuring inclusive hairstyles, skin tones and body types. Mattel on Tuesday revealed a doll with vitiligo, a doll with no hair, and a doll with a darker skin tone and a gold prosthetic limb.
According to Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls, the Barbie Fashionistas line now includes 176 dolls with 8 body types, 35 skin tones and 94 hairstyles, “designed to reflect the world girls see today.”
“For 2020, Barbie is continuing the journey to represent global diversity and inclusivity in the fashion doll aisle by showcasing a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion,” a spokesperson for Mattel told CBS News.
To design the doll with vitiligo, an autoimmune condition that causes loss of skin color, Mattel said it worked with a dermatologist to ensure it was accurately represented.
“As we continue to redefine what it means to be a ‘Barbie’ or look like Barbie, offering a doll with vitiligo in our main doll line allows kids to play out even more stories they see in the world around them,” the spokesperson said.
Mattel also released a doll with no hair, which the company said is both meant to inspire girls experiencing hair loss for any reason and to reflect current hair trends. The release comes after Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley revealed this month that she has completely lost her hair due to the condition alopecia.
Last year, then-12-year-old disability activist Jordan Reeves collaborated with Mattel to introduce a doll with a prosthetic limb, which debuted alongside a doll with a wheelchair. Now, that doll will be sold with a darker complexion and a gold prosthetic leg.
The newest Ken doll also has a unique twist: long hair. Its new look is a departure from the more stereotypical male design of past dolls.
After historically being criticized for Barbie’s lack of diversity, Mattel has spent the last five years introducing more inclusive dolls into its lines. In 2017, it debuted the first Barbie to wear a hijab and this year, it debuted Joss, a doll that is hearing impaired, as American Girl Doll’s 2020 “Girl of the Year.”
In September, the brand rolled out a new line of gender-neutral dolls aimed at children who “don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms.”
Mattel said that last year, over half of all dolls offered were “diverse.” The top-selling doll for almost every week of 2019 was a “curvy black fashionista with an afro hairstyle,” and seven of the top ten best-sellers were diverse, including the doll that uses a wheelchair.