Barbie dolls used to all look alike, but those days are long gone.
People have long argued that traditional blonde dolls have unnatural physical proportions for young girls. Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattel, has made a strong effort in recent years to include various body types, skin tones, and even special needs in their dolls.
These efforts are paying off! When Lacey Brown-Rogers of Johnstown, Ohio went out in search of a new Barbie doll for her daughter with special needs Ella, she turned to Mattel’s new Fashionistas line. This line of dolls includes Barbies and Kens of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicity. They also have a doll with a prosthetic leg, a doll that is bald, a doll with vitiligo, and most importantly for Ella, a doll who uses a wheelchair.
Ella was born with a condition known as spina bifida. She is disabled from the waist down and uses a wheelchair to get about since her spinal column did not form properly. Ella, who is only two years old, is already aware that her particular requirements set her apart from other children.
“Mattel has included my daughter,” Lacey said. “As somebody who has a special needs child, that means the world.”
Lacey made sure to take pictures of Ella receiving her new doll when the time arrived. Even yet, she could never have predicted how touching her daughter’s reaction would be! Ella’s eyes became large as soon as she spotted the blonde doll sitting in her wheelchair! The toddler’s face lights up with delight as she realizes the doll looks just like her!
Ella’s adorable reaction video quickly went viral. People fell in love with Ella’s adorable facial expressions as she took in her new toy, but the video also inspired an important discussion about inclusion in our society. Lacey sent the video to Mattel, and the company responded by sending even more dolls to the excited child! “The outpouring of love they’ve shown us is incredible,” Lacey said.
“Ella is just like any other child,” Lacey explained. “She is non-verbal but she communicates through sign language, and she understands everything that you’re saying. To know that she was included with a Barbie in a wheelchair is incredible.”
What a wonderful way for a well-loved company to change with the times! The fact that Mattel is making these dolls shows how far we’ve come as a society. Just recognizing that people don’t all look the same (and that’s okay!) makes a powerful statement for kids. Plus, this little girl is just too cute for words!
Watch Ella receiving her new doll in the video below, and don’t forget to share.