Barbie unveils first doll with hearing aid as company spreads message of inclusivity

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For those who grew up playing Barbie, the dolls seemed to present only an unrealistic image of beauty. With those impossibly long legs, hip-to-waist ratio, and flowing locks, Barbie was a doll that reinforced a filtered image of beauty: an image in which individual differences and the characteristics that make us unique were all but forgotten by design. . But in 2022, Barbie looks very different and now, in a series of firsts for the famous toy, she has unveiled her “most diverse and inclusive” range of dolls yet.

Among the latest dolls are a Barbie with a hearing aid and a Ken doll with vitiligo, a disease in which the skin loses its pigment cells. By embracing these characteristics, Barbie hopes more children will see themselves reflected in the lineup and understand that it’s these differences and unique traits that make a person adorable.

As Mattel’s Global Head of Barbie Dolls, Lisa McKnight, said in a statement, “It’s important that children see themselves reflected in the product and encourage play with dolls that don’t look like them, to help them understand and celebrate the importance of inclusion. .”

To achieve a realistic look for the hearing aid, Mattel even worked alongside Dr. Jen Richardson, an educational audiology practitioner, to accurately model the behind-the-ear devices for the doll. As Richardson expressed, “I’m honored to have worked with Barbie to create the true-to-life reflection of a doll with behind-the-ear hearing aids. As a teaching audiologist with over 18 years of experience advocating for hearing loss, it’s inspiring to see those with hearing loss reflected in a doll. I am more than happy for my young patients to see and play with a doll that looks like them.

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