I don't know about you, but playing with my Barbies as a young girl was one of my most favorite pass times.
Whether I was by myself or with girlfriends, I loved dressing these dolls in their latest fashions (Even then I loved clothes), doing their hair, going on dates with the hottest guy. . .er the only guy, Ken. I remember having the Barbie Dream House, the car, the hot tub, the home and office, the kitchen. . .
As a disabled child, it never occurred to me that there were no Barbies like me. Truth be told though, I could never live in Barbie's world. Her house had steps to the front door, no elevator to the second floor. Her car was a convertible with no opening trunk for my chair. The home office was way too small. It would be impossible!
Now in my 30s, my days of playing make believe with my Barbies have long since past, but in 2009 Becky, Barbie's disabled friend, would enter my world in the most interesting of ways.
I was writing a patient success story for an upcoming hospital event (As previously mentioned in my blog, I work in PR for a children's hospital.). The young lady I was interviewing had a laundry list of achievements: first person in a wheelchair to cheerlead in the state of FL, first person in a wheelchair to win Pre-Teen FL since it was founded in 1990 and at eight-yrs-old she posed a very intriguing question, "If Barbie can be a teacher, doctor or a cheerleader, why isn't there a Barbie in a wheelchair? Aren't we pretty enough to be a Barbie?"
Ok, I'll give you a minute to digest that. I can only image you are as taken back reading that last statement as I was hearing it! Well after a series of transfers and jotting down numbers, her mom spoke to the vice-president of media at Mattel. Amazingly, there had been a wheelchair Barbie many years ago and in very limited quantity. She was taken off the market "without giving it any real thought."
After hearing this story, I just had to have one! Since Becky was no longer in production, I headed to Ebay determined to find one of my very own.
Becky now sits proudly on my desk at work. Patients love to see and play with her and I hear, "Mom, she's just like me" all too often.
I'm reminded daily of the boldness of one eight-yr-old girl who fought for equality in a doll world made up of perfection every time I look at Becky. Looks like I'm still learning from Barbie!