Barbie maker celebrates ‘power of representation’ with first ever scoliosis doll
Barbie doll maker Mattel has made history by introducing its first doll with scoliosis.
The toy company’s line for Barbie’s little sister, Chelsea, will see a new addition that features curvature of the spine and a removable back brace, in the hope of normalising the equipment and encouraging children to celebrate inclusion.
The team at Mattel worked closely with Dr Luke Macyszyn, a board-certified neurosurgeon and specialist in children’s complex spinal disorders, who advised the designers throughout the doll’s development.
The six inch (15cm) doll wears a pink dress and has a removable green back brace, white shoes, and her brown hair is styled in waves.
Scoliosis is characterised by the abnormal twisting and curvature of the spine.
Symptoms include a visibly curved spine, one shoulder being higher than the other or one shoulder or hip being more prominent than the other, a prominent ribcage and a difference in leg lengths.
The condition can develop in any age, but is most common in children aged 10 to 15 years old, according to the NHS.
In the UK, around three or four in every 1,000 children require treatment for scoliosis.
While treatment is not always necessary in children as the spine may improve naturally as they grow, bracing or casting may be used to stop the curve from progressing further.
Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel, said the brand created the doll to "be more reflective of the world" and to help children develop empathy.
“We believe in the power of representation and are committed to creating dolls in a variety of looks so that kids can see themselves in Barbie – and now in a line celebrating Barbie’s little sister, Chelsea," she said.
“We’re proud to launch the first-ever Chelsea doll with a removable back brace to continue to be more reflective of the world kids see around them.
“Our Chelsea line provides infinitely more ways to spark storytelling, all while providing kids with a way to develop their empathy and social processing skills through doll play.”
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know