Disability campaigner praises new diverse Barbie dolls

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A disability campaigner from Staffordshire University is praising the creators of Barbie for launching a new line of inclusive, diverse dolls.

The dolls, made by American company Mattel, feature wheelchair users, conditions such as alopecia and vitiligo, dolls with prosthetic limbs and more – and are being sold for as low as £10.

Sam Oldknow, 22, a member of Staffordshire University’s Union Disabled Students Network told StaffsLive: “I like the detail in the wheels, and what I do like is that you can change the clothes and make the dolls whatever you wish.

“That’s where they’ve made their big stride, with the fact you can make them whatever you want, regardless of body shape, hair colour, gender or anything else.”

A new line of Barbie dolls featuring wheelchairs and conditions such as vitiligo and alopecia.

Sam uses a wheelchair as he suffers from Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy and joined the Union’s Disabled Students Network to champion inclusion and diversity.

He said: “It’s about getting people used to the idea of inclusivity from a young age, when their brain is still being developed.

“They’ll be more like ‘well, this is normal! This is not weird at all.’ Making people aware of disabilities is extremely important.

“I think this [points to Barbie in a wheelchair doll]is why its important from a young age – if they’re shown from a young age then they wont alienate us.”

Despite the overwhelming positive reception the launch has received, there are criticisms that the latest line of Barbie dolls are exploiting disabilities for profits.

Sam said: ” I think profiting off of disabilities is not necessarily a bad thing, companies profit off of every other bugger so what makes us any different?”

“The media is about making money, and if they can make more money from this we’ll just get more prominence. It doesn’t mean this is exploiting anyone, it’s all positive in the long run.”

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