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Barbie to release its first ever doll with hearing aids

The new set of dolls is being released as part of the company's 2022 Fashionista lineup and will be launched in Walmart, Target and Amazon.

Barbie to release its first ever doll with hearing aids
Image source: Barbie with a hearing aid/Mattel

Barbie will release a new set of dolls including one with hearing aids in an attempt to be more inclusive. Mattel, the manufacturer of the iconic doll, has announced a new set of dolls as part of its 2022 Fashionista lineup. They will be launched in Walmart, Target and Amazon. Among the new dolls is a Ken doll with the skin condition vitiligo. Mattel's Global Head of Barbie Dolls Lisa McKnight said the idea was to help kids "see themselves reflected" in the Barbie range, reported CNN. She also added that kids should be encouraged to play with dolls that resemble and don't resemble them so they "understand and celebrate the importance of inclusion."



Mattel also stated that it had sought the expertise of Dr. Jen Richardson, a leading practitioner in educational audiology, to help accurately design the behind-the-ear devices for doll. Dr. Richardson is excited to see kids with hearing aids connect with the doll. The doll will be a ponytailed Barbie complete with a hot pink hearing aid. "I'm beyond thrilled for my young patients to see and play with a doll who looks like them," she said. Mattel also announced that there will be more Barbie dolls with inclusive and realistic body types. The stereotypical male doll was more muscular but that changes now. From smaller chests to fuller-figures and even slender, less-muscular male dolls, the dolls will be more representative of varied body types. 



Mattel has made a very conscious decision to be more diverse in recent years after being criticized for promoting a narrow, unrealistic ideal of beauty. The company introduced Barbie dolls in a wheelchair, a doll with a prosthetic leg and a Black Barbie with the skin condition vitiligo, among other dolls. โ€œBarbie has continued to evolve over the years to better reflect the world girls see today, adding more diversity for endless storytelling possibilities,โ€ said Mattel, reported PEOPLE. Kim Culmone, the senior vice president of Mattel fashion doll design, said research in 2019 revealed that "kids donโ€™t want their toys dictated by gender norms." The company decided to be more inclusive and considered toys that are a reflection of culture. โ€œThis line allows all kids to express themselves freely which is why it resonates so strongly with them,โ€ wrote Culmone. "We've been committed to increasing diversity in our line and showcasing all the different types of beauty that exist... making the line more accessible," said Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie at the time.





The company has also become more environmentally conscious, with Mattel announcing in 2021 that it was moving toward using 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all of its products and packaging by 2030. "Our sustainability efforts represent the next step in Barbie's social mission and evolution," said Lisa McKnight, senior vice president at Mattel (MAT) and global head of the company's Barbie and Dolls portfolios. "To truly show the next generation they can be anything, we must do our part in protecting the planet, reducing our environmental impact, and promoting sustainable everyday behaviors." 



In its efforts to go green, the company already announced a new line of dolls under the series "Barbie Loves the Ocean." The dolls are made from plastic that would otherwise become ocean waste. As we reported, the summer-themed collection includes three dolls whose bodies are made from 90% recycled ocean-bound plastic parts, and a beach shack playset and starter assortment playset made from 90% recycled plastic. Mattel teamed up with plastics recycling company Envision Plastics, a recycler of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), for the same purpose.

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