The addition of a Barbie with a hearing device is part of the Fashionista Barbie line, created in 2009, which reflects Mattel's commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
May 11 (UPI) -- Toymaker Mattel announced on Wednesday a historic addition to its Barbie doll line -- a version that includes a behind-the-ear hearing aid device.
The addition is part of the company's Fashionista Barbie line, which Mattel says reflects its commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion with the iconic dolls.
The Barbie with the device -- a pink hearing device, no less -- is the first in the line to feature a hearing aid. She joins other dolls in the same line that reflect other conditions -- such as the best-selling Ken doll with the skin condition vitiligo.
In an effort to create devices that accurately reflect real hearing aids, Mattel developed the new doll with Dr. Jen Richardson, an audiologist and hearing-loss advocate.
"I'm beyond thrilled for my young patients to see and play with a doll who looks like them," Richardson said according to CNN.
Some of the new Barbies in recent years have strayed from traditional body types and styles that have traditionally been seen among the smaller-than-life figures, with Mattel opting instead for more representative shapes and features -- including less-muscular male dolls, fuller figures and smaller chests.
"With a wide variety of skin tones, eye colors, hair colors and textures, body types and fashions, the dolls are designed to reflect the world kids see today," Mattel says on its website.
The Barbie doll was introduced in 1959 and has undergone countless changes over the past six decades. The first available doll wore a black and white swimsuit and was available in blonde and brunette. It's been estimated that more than a billion Barbies have sold worldwide since then.
A live-action motion picture based on the line -- starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken -- is in production at Warner Bros and is scheduled to open in theaters nationwide in July 2023.