In recent years, the global community has placed a greater emphasis on embracing diversity and inclusivity. This is reflected in the media, entertainment, education, and other spheres of life. With this mindset shift, it has become important to teach young children the value of inclusion and respect for diversity. One way to achieve this is through representation of people with visible differences. In this regard, Barbie dolls with vitiligo provide an excellent opportunity to introduce children to the concept of social inclusion and encourage the participation of different people in social life.
The new Barbie dolls with vitiligo are part of a series of dolls that feature a range of diverse attributes, including different body types, skin colors, and disabilities. Released in 2020, the Barbie with vitiligo has a unique appearance, with spots of depigmented skin on her face and body, which closely resembles the real-life condition of vitiligo. The doll was designed in collaboration with a dermatologist who specializes in treating the condition, ensuring that the design accurately reflects the real-life experiences of people with vitiligo.
The introduction of Barbie dolls with vitiligo is significant because it provides a platform to discuss and educate children about visible differences, specifically skin conditions. Children who may not have had any exposure to people with vitiligo can now understand and relate to this skin condition through the Barbie doll, and it can help them develop an appreciation for the beauty and diversity of different skin types.
The importance of introducing young children to the concept of social inclusion cannot be overemphasized. According to the World Health Organization, social inclusion is the process of improving the terms of participation in society for people who are marginalized or excluded, either by choice or by circumstance. The WHO also notes that social inclusion is essential for promoting health and well-being. As such, teaching children about social inclusion from an early age can help them develop a more positive attitude towards people who are different from them and promote an inclusive society.
Incorporating diversity and inclusion into children's toys is not a new concept, but the Barbie with vitiligo is unique because it provides an opportunity to discuss and educate children about a specific skin condition that is not well understood. Vitiligo affects about 1% of the global population, and it is a condition that can cause emotional distress and social isolation. By introducing the Barbie doll with vitiligo, children can learn about the condition and how it affects people in their daily lives. This can help to reduce the stigma surrounding vitiligo and increase understanding and acceptance of people with the condition.
The Barbie with vitiligo also helps to address the lack of representation of people with disabilities and visible differences in popular culture. According to a report by the Ruderman Family Foundation, only 2.7% of characters in popular films have a disability, and when they are represented, they are often played by able-bodied actors. The report also highlights the underrepresentation of people with disabilities in the entertainment industry, which perpetuates stereotypes and reinforces societal barriers to inclusion. By introducing the Barbie with vitiligo, children can learn about a condition that is not often represented in popular culture and see themselves represented in their toys.
Furthermore, Barbie dolls with vitiligo provide an opportunity to discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion in society. Through these dolls, children can learn about the unique attributes of different people, and how these attributes contribute to the richness of our society. Teaching children about diversity and inclusion from an early age can also help to break down barriers and promote social harmony in our communities. It can encourage children to be more accepting and empathetic towards people who are different from them and help to promote a more inclusive and cohesive society.
In addition to promoting social inclusion, Barbie dolls with vitiligo can also help to promote self-esteem and body positivity.