This month we feature, Becky!
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.
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!”
Mattel 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. Many people have alleged that Mattel decided to stop stocking toy store shelves with Becky, because producing more wheelchair dolls would require changing all of the other products that Barbie customers bought to go with their dolls.
It was argued that Mattel decided that if they would only be able to sell one Becky doll per customer, with no added extras, it was better for their bottom line to take her off the shelves. The alternative was to change every single other item in the Barbie catalogue so that Becky would be able to use them too. Basically, the theory (and it is just a theory) was that Mattel decided that rather then change the structure of existing products, it would be easier to just ignore disabled Becky.
"Nothing is as special as a good friend who really cares about people in our world! They laugh and smile, they're always together loving each other just the way they are." -Barbie