The days when all Barbie dolls looked the same are long gone.
For many years, people complained that the classic blonde dolls displayed unrealistic body proportions for young girls. In recent years, Mattel, the company that makes Barbies, has made a concerted effort to include more body shapes, skin tones, and even special needs in their dolls.
These efforts are paying off! When Lacey Brown-Rogers of Johnstown, Ohio went out in search of a new Barbie doll for her daughter with special needs Ella, she turned to Mattel’s new Fashionistas line. This line of dolls includes Barbies and Kens of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicity. They also have a doll with a prosthetic leg, a doll that is bald, a doll with vitiligo, and most importantly for Ella, a doll who uses a wheelchair.
Ella was born with a birth defect called spina bifida. Since her spinal column did not form properly, she is paralyzed from the waist down and relies on a wheelchair to get around. Even though she’s only 2, Ella already recognizes that her special needs set her apart from other kids.
“Mattel has included my daughter,” Lacey said. “As somebody who has a special needs child, that means the world.”
When the time came to give Ella her new doll, Lacey was sure to record the moment. Still, she could never have anticipated how incredibly sweet her daughter’s reaction would be! As soon as Ella saw the blonde doll seated in her wheelchair her eyes got huge! You can see the excitement in the toddler’s face as she realizes the doll looks just like her!
Ella’s adorable reaction video quickly went viral. People fell in love with Ella’s adorable facial expressions as she took in her new toy, but the video also inspired an important discussion about inclusion in our society. Lacey sent the video to Mattel, and the company responded by sending even more dolls to the excited child! “The outpouring of love they’ve shown us is incredible,” Lacey said.
“Ella is just like any other child,” Lacey explained. “She is non-verbal but she communicates through sign language, and she understands everything that you’re saying. To know that she was included with a Barbie in a wheelchair is incredible.”
What a wonderful way for a well-loved company to change with the times! The fact that Mattel is making these dolls shows how far we’ve come as a society. Just recognizing that people don’t all look the same (and that’s okay!) makes a powerful statement for kids. Plus, this little girl is just too cute for words!
Watch Ella receiving her new doll in the video below, and don’t forget to share.
Share your story & inspire the world.
If you have an uplifting story we would love to hear about it! Share it with us here.