First-Ever Barbie Doll With Hearing Aid

Barbie, the 63-year-old American doll manufacturer, is releasing a new set of dolls in June as part of its ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives. From creating the brand’s first ever Barbie with hearing aids, to a Ken doll with the skin condition vitiligo, 2022’s Fashionista line up will help kids “see themselves reflected,” said Lisa McKnight, Mattel’s Global Head of Barbie Dolls.

For the Barbie with hearing aids, the company sought the expertise of Dr. Jen Richardson, a leading practitioner in educational audiology, to help accurately imitate behind-the-ear devices for the toy. Changes have been made to the stereotypical Barbie body type, too. From small chests to fuller-figures and even slender, less-muscular male dolls, the new toys are meant to be more representative of varied body types.

The Barbie range of dolls have become increasingly diverse in recent years. In 2019 they released a Barbie in a wheelchair and a doll with a prosthetic leg. In 2020, the company unveiled a Barbie with vitiligo, which became one of the best sellers from the Fashionista line in the US that year. Similarly in 2021, a Black doll with an afro hairstyle was a global success, ranking as one of the top five most popular models worldwide.