Posted in Disability sterotypes

Welcome, Wheelchair Barbie – We’ve been Waiting for You!

CNN, February 12, 2019

When you are a child and seeking your identity, you of course look for role models. And they are everywhere – on TV, in books and in the conversations generated by those symbols.

As we slowly and often painfully learn, many of those role models are fiction and unattainable. We gradually come to realize this, but in the meantime our self-esteem can take a beating.

A lot of these often-unobtainable images involve not only outrageous beauty but sleek athleticism. Of course, the iconic Barbie doll comes to mind – dancing, surfing or roller-blading with Ken.

That’s why it was so refreshing to see that Mattel has done a “Barbie makeover.” She and similar dolls are now available in wheelchairs, prosetic legs and other bodily variations that look – like real people.

That, along with the increasing number of people with disabilities seen on television shows, magazines and even emojis, is helping to shape a sense that having a disability should not cause people to feel unworthy. On the contrary, it reminds all of us that to be different is to be human.

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Helen Russon