Barbie debuts Chelsea doll with scoliosis

Mattel is rolling out its first Chelsea doll with scoliosis, as part of its larger efforts to increase diversity in its dolls.

Chelsea is Barbie's younger sister. (Photo credit: Mattel).

The iconic Barbie brand has made strides in recent years to improve the diversity of its dolls, whether it’s expanding its Barbies with different skin colorsbody sizes or disabilities

Now, Mattel is rolling out its first Chelsea doll with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that’s often first diagnosed in children.

Barbie collaborated with a medical expert, neurosurgeon Dr. Luke Macyszyn, to develop the Chelsea doll with scoliosis. The goal was to design a doll that children with spinal issues, whether a simple case of scoliosis or other more serious disorders, could relate to. The Chelsea doll also features a removable back brace.

Scoliosis affects some 2 to 3% of the U.S. population, or about 6 to 9 million people, according to Columbia University Irving Medical Center. The most common form, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, typically appears in children between the ages of 10 and 15, and can be treated with physical therapy and occasionally a brace.

The Chelsea doll is Barbie’s younger sister and was launched in 2011. At age seven, she’s meant to be the youngest sister of the Barbie family and was designed specifically for younger children. The Chelsea doll line also includes a doll in a wheelchair. 

The Chelsea doll with scoliosis is the most recent example of Barbie’s ongoing commitment to offering diverse products to its consumers.

In 2022, Barbie unveiled a doll with hearing aids, which received support from medical experts and disability advocates.

“When you have a popular doll like Barbie, who’s an icon as far as dolls go, wearing bright pink hearing aids. It not only gives children the opportunity to see somebody just like them, but it also gives adults that affirmation,” Barbara Kelley, executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, told MM+M at that time.

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