Toy company Mattel, last week launched a new line of diverse Barbie dolls including a doll with vitiligo. The collection, which also includes a doll with no hair, a prosthetic limb and a wheel chair, is part of the fashionista range, which aims to promote diversity and celebrate the importance of inclusivity.
The vitiligo community became aware of the vitiligo doll in 2019, when the news circulated that Mattel was planning to create a doll with white patches and so when the doll finally hit the shops and became available online, naturally all those within the community couldn’t wait to purchase the first ever toy that looked like them and represented them in such an empowering way.
Kim Culmone, SVP, Global Head of Design Barbie & Fashion Dolls at Mattel, told The Vitiligo Society that “The expansion of our Barbie Fashionistas range shows our commitment to designing a line that celebrates all kinds of beauty and evolves the brand to be more reflective of the world kids see around them. Representation matters because seeing yourself or others reflected in the dolls you play with has the power to build self-esteem and empathy.”
The doll, which has patches around each eye and on its neck, sold out online shortly after it was launched. First introduced in the US, the doll is now available in UK toy store, Smyths along with the rest of the range. In order to best represent vitiligo, Mattel also consulted a Dermatologist during its design phase to ensure the patches were correctly represented on the doll.
Earlier this year, Mattel donated 56 dolls to this year World Vitiligo Day conference which takes place in June. Alicia Roufs, who heads up the Minnesota VITFriends support group and are this year’s event organiser, said of Mattel’s kind donation
“I would have given anything to have a doll with vitiligo as a child. To be able to see myself in the form of a doll would have meant the world because as far as I was aware no one else looked like me. Our community has spoken up and will no longer be silenced and because our voice things like the vitiligo Barbie doll have happened. We made this happen”.
Personally speaking, I feel this is an incredible breakthrough for the vitiligo community. Growing up in the 80’s dolls were a standard colour and looked a particular way, so to now have a doll with vitiligo, that has patches just like us, proves we are moving in a positive direction where brands such as Mattel, understand just how important it is that everyone in society is represented. It shows the reality of what society is today…people that are made up of different shapes, sizes and skin tones. This is what we should be showing the next generation, that everyone has the right to be represented. Mattel has really raised the bar with this new innovative product line. I just hope it inspires other brands to think about how they can represent the wider society and bring products such as these into the market.