Mattel’s Newest Barbie Wears a Hearing Aid

Barbie with hearing aid Mattel
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Barbie has stepped up big time as a giant brand that focuses much of its work and press on inclusiveness. Its Barbie Diversity line centers around representing all kids of all shapes, sizes, colors, backgrounds, and disabilities—and this latest doll is no exception. The goal: letting kids see themselves represented in play.

“We are proud to introduce the first Barbie with behind-the-ear hearing aids, giving kids the chance to imagine even more amazing possibilities,” the company wrote on Instagram. This Barbie joins another 175 dolls who, in total, have 35 different skin tones, 94 hairstyles, and nine body types, according to the website. This includes Barbie with vitiligo, one who uses a wheelchair, and women with underrepresented career types.

“The power of play is shaping what we imagine to be possible—which is why it’s important that kids can play out stories with dolls that reflect themselves and the world around them!” the post concluded. Amen to that.

The brand doesn’t just produce the dolls to check a box; they actively engage with buyers to #mixupthetoybox. “Our dolls can only make a true impact if the diversity we offer on the shelves makes it into playrooms at home,” Mattel said of the program.

This will be the first toy that aims to represent the Deaf and hard of hearing community. She will join others debuting in June of this year, including a Ken doll with vitiligo. In 2021, a Black doll with an afro hairstyle sold as one of the top five most popular models in the brand’s history. The 2022 Fashionista lineup, which includes this Barbie, will be launched in Walmart, Target, and Amazon.

For this particular Barbie, the company looked to Dr. Jen Richardson, a leading practitioner in educational audiology, to help design and ensure the doll’s accuracy. Her fashionable side ponytail comes complete with a hot pink hearing aid. “As an educational audiologist with over 18 years of experience working in hearing loss advocacy, it’s inspiring to see those who experience hearing loss reflected in a doll,” Richardson said in a press release.

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