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Barbie introduces its first doll with scoliosis: 'We believe in the power of representation'

The Chelsea doll has a removable back brace mainly for children to be 'reflective' of the world around them. 

Barbie introduces its first doll with scoliosis: 'We believe in the power of representation'
Cover Image Source: Facebook | STV News

Every girl has fond memories of playing with barbie dolls as a child - combing their hair, making them wear fancy clothes, arranging their houses and whatnot. Recently, the barbie doll company created announced that they were introducing its first doll with scoliosis. According to Mayo Clinic, "Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that most often is diagnosed in adolescents." The toy company will add a new line for Barbie's younger sister, Chelsea, which will include curvature of the spine and a removable back brace, as reported by Skynews. Through this, the company wants to normalize the equipment and encourage inclusion among children. 



The toy company Mattel worked closely with Dr. Luke Macyszyn, a board-certified neurosurgeon and specialist in children's complex spinal disorders, who helped the designers while creating the doll. Reportedly, the 15cm doll wears a pink dress and has a removable green back brace, white shoes and brown hair styled in waves. Talking about the doll, 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.


The Chelsea doll has a removable back brace, mainly for children to be "reflective" of the world around them. Also, the company hopes to start a conversation through these dolls. McKnight said, "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."



In the past, Barbie dolls have been criticized for being overly sexual and too thin. Mattel has been changing that by bringing in more diverse dolls. They developed Barbie dolls with hearing aid, prosthetic limb, a wheelchair and also, a skin condition called vitiligo a while ago. Actor Rose Ayling-Ellis worked with Barbie to create the first doll with hearing aids. Ayling-Ellis, who's deaf since birth, then said it is "really important and such a big deal," according to BBC. She wrote in an Instagram post, "When @barbie told me they were bringing out a doll with a hearing aid, I was so excited. When I was little, I would draw hearing aids onto my Barbie dolls to make them look like me - now deaf children don't have to!"


She went on to say that this will promote inclusion among children. "I'm so happy that children can see even more inclusion in toys now. The Barbie with a hearing aid, Ken doll with vitiligo, Barbie with a prosthetic limb and Barbie in a wheelchair are available today all over the UK," she wrote. 

The company, Mattel, reportedly reaches out to third-party experts when they are developing a barbie with new physical features. They reached out to 12-year-old Jordan Reeves and her doctor to develop Barbie with a prosthetic leg. "Jordan helped us understand and incorporate a key design feature: She asked that the prosthetic leg be removable for a more realistic play experience," McKnight said. "We always aim to create a play experience that is as representative as possible," according to northjersey.

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