Wheelchair Barbie Dolls Were Not So Accessible

Jan 18, 2011

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In 1997, Mattel produced a wheelchair-using Barbie doll called “Share a Smile Becky.” The doll was a unique way to intertwine Barbie dolls and people with disabilities, making sure no one was left out in the Barbie world. Unfortunately, the doll was eventually discontinued due to ongoing design problems.

The original Becky could not fit through the Barbie Dream House front door, and her hair was also so long that it would get caught in the wheelchairs wheels. Attempting to make the doll as real-life as possible, Mattel did some adjustments to Becky making her wheelchair smaller and her hair shorter. The new and improved Barbie was wanted in high demand and flew off the shelves in less than two weeks.

becky

Despite the reworked Becky Barbie doll, 17-year-old Kjersti Johnson discovered that Becky could not fit into the Dream House’s elevator. Johnson, a high school student with cerebral palsy, complained about the issue stating, “This is what we live with every day… how ironic and true…housing for people with disabilities that is not accessible!”

Mattell stated in the future they intended on making changes to the Barbie house designs, but instead they later rejected the doll and discontinued Becky along with wheelchair-racing Paralympic Becky.

wheelchair-becky

Morgan, who uses a wheelchair, asked her mother, “Aren’t handicapped people pretty enough to be Barbie dolls?”  The question prompted her mother, Angela Floyd, to go searching for a doll with disabilities. She ended up getting a hold of a Mattel representative who would not state why the doll was discontinued, however they did send her a doll from the archives. Morgan said upon receiving the doll, “Mommy, it looks like me. It’s me, Mommy!”

Many believe that the company discontinued the wheelchair Barbie doll because it would be much easier to take her off the shelves than redesign the whole Barbie community such as housing, cars, and various accessories. A spokesperson stated the company, “might recreate another wheelchair-using doll in the future, but has no definite plans to do so.”

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About the author

Destiny

AMS Vans provides news about issues that are important to people with disabilities, their loved ones, disability advocates and their friends.

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12 Comments

  1. JUDY ROGERS
    January 25, 2011

    i bought one of these dolls, is it worth anything are is it a collectable

  2. Aurica
    August 09, 2011

    I have muscular dystrophy and needs a large electric wheelchair who can help me Please if you can help me with an electric wheelchair I suffer from muscular dystrophy and are in bed I can not move I have 54 years and are in Romania will send a picture of my feet Thank you
    please

  3. Darlene Baker
    January 01, 2012

    I have one of these dolls in its oroginal box. Is it worth anything?

  4. marcelo fonseca
    January 27, 2012

    I am interested to buy one doll of this . If anyone wanna sell, please, make contact (mcafonseca@gmail.com). I am in Brazil and my wife works with this subject. Thanks, Marcelo.

  5. Bonnie
    August 01, 2012

    I have a special edition Share a smile Becky Barbie Doll still in the box looking to sell. Please email me if interested! Thanks Bonnie
    Nazelectric07@aol.com

  6. Amy Hasbrouck
    May 26, 2013

    This article is a perfect analogy for euthanasia of people with disabilities. See my comment at https://www.facebook.com/ToujoursVivantNotDeadYet.

    It also saddens me that most of the people who replied to this post talked about the monetary value of the doll, rather than the shameful outcome of withdrawing the doll instead of making the other accoutrements accessible.

    I hope Aurica got in touch with his or her local independent living center.

    • Kay Chapman
      July 18, 2013

      it saddens me too that there only interested in buying the doll,or selling the doll ..erm its called a selling site get on one ……..

  7. Samantha
    July 18, 2013

    I would love to get ahold of one of these dolls for my daughter. She has Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 3 Severe. We deal with this challenge every day. My daughter loves to play mini golf but the only way she can is if her father and I take turns picking her up and over each and every hole as they are not wheelchair accessible. :( This would make my daughter’s day if she had one. And Mattel lacks knowledge of the wheelchair world. We are used to adapting, so having the house and accessories are not necessary to make one feel like they belong. I wish these were still sold. :(

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