Strictly Come Dancing star Rose Ayling-Ellis has teamed up with Mattel to unveil the first Barbie doll with hearing aids.
The actress, who won the dance competition in 2021, features in the Rose, Barbie & Friends campaign, photographed alongside a cast of diverse models who reflect the new line of dolls.
This includes the first Ken doll with vitiligo, a Fashionista doll with a prosthetic limb and a Barbie doll with a wheelchair.
“It’s so important for children to be able to see themselves represented in the toys they play with,” said Ayling-Ellis, who has been deaf since birth.
“When I was little, I would draw hearing aids on to my Barbie dolls to make them look like me, so I am thrilled that Mattel is releasing more dolls that encourage kids to celebrate and embrace their differences.”
Mattel consulted with experts on the dolls in order to accurately portray the hearing aids, with educational audiologist Dr Jen Richardson saying she was “honoured” to have worked on the line.
“It’s inspiring those who experience hard of hearing reflected in a doll,” she said.
“I’m beyond thrilled for my young patients to see and play with a doll who looks like them.”
Rosie Eggleston, participation manager at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said the move is a “really positive step towards inclusion”.
“She will give all children a much greater appreciation of the diversity of people around them and provide a window into the world of deafness,” she said.
“It will also mean a lot to those deaf children who wear hearing aids because they’ll see their own experiences reflected in a truly mainstream toy.
“This could really help them to be proud of their deafness, celebrate wearing hearing aids and have new opportunities to talk to their friends about what it’s really like to be deaf.”
Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls, Mattel, Inc. said: “The Barbie brand wholeheartedly believes in the power of representation, and we are committed to continuing to introduce dolls featuring a range of skin tones, body types and disabilities to reflect the diversity kids see in the world around them.
“It’s important for kids to see themselves reflected in product and to encourage play with dolls that don’t resemble them to help them understand and celebrate the importance of inclusion.”
The Barbie Fashionistas line will be available in the UK from Thursday.