Tuesday, April 2, 2024

B: Becky

 

#AtoZChallenge 2024 badge B


Becky was a friend of Barbie's who used a wheelchair, introduced in 1997. This was one attempt by Mattel to show diversity in the line. She appeared in three lines (the first of which, Share a Smile, is pictured below) until she was discontinued, the reason being that her wheelchair could not fit into Barbie's Dreamhouse. From this link:
... Kjersti Johnson, a girl with cerebral palsy, realized Becky’s wheelchair didn’t fit in the dream house elevator, so she wrote to Mattel to ask if the dream house elevator could be modified to accommodate Becky’s wheelchair. After several unsuccessful redesign attempts, they discontinued the doll. In the 2019 Barbie Fashionistas line, Barbie was finally actually in a wheelchair herself, offering a more diverse representation of beauty....


It's too bad the doll had to be discontinued for reasons like this. But least they found another way to represent those in need of such accommodation in the line.

This is not the only time the name Becky was used in the Barbie line, however. Mattel tends to reuse names in the Barbie line (and in other toy and doll lines), seemingly not to lose the rights to the names. But when used in the same line, it can get confusing.

One character named Becky was in the Barbie and the Sensations line from the late 1980s (the successor to Barbie and the Rockers, which I will be discussing later). Becky is the doll on the left of the photo, with Bopsy in the middle and Barbie on the right (the fourth member, African American Belinda, is not pictured). A video was made of this line.


And in 1995, Barbie's Baby sister Kelly (now called Chelsea) was introduced, and she had her own line of toddler friends, one of whom was named Becky. Becky and the rest of Kelly's little friends (including Ken's little brother Tommy) disappeared after Kelly's name was changed to Chelsea.


Are you confused yet? There is still another use of the name, which will come into discussion in another post. Sorry to keep you in suspense.


--Ending for today.

14 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

All those "Becky" dolls were well after my time of playing with Barbie, so they're unfamiliar to me. Yes, the optics suck about discontinuing wheelchair Becky just because they couldn't make the Barbie Dream House accessible.

Jamie Ghione said...

Yes, they were also after my time of playing with toys in general had passed, as it a lot of the stuff I am featuring during A to Z. Some I can see myself wanting had a I been younger when they were made.

Torie Lennox said...

I haven't looked it up to see if there's an answer, but I do wonder why they bother changing names. They could just as easily give Barbie another relative instead of renaming the sister and banishing dolls related to the previous version. Very interesting. And yes, it's a shame the wheelchair Becky had to be discontinued under those circumstances, but I still applaud their continued efforts toward inclusivity.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm sure they could've made Barbie's Dreamhouse bigger to make the elevator bigger for Becky's wheelchair. That's a shame.

jabblog said...

I imagine there's been an surge in Barbie's popularity after the film. Original dolls in unused condition would be priceless now.

jabblog said...

I imagine the film will have caused a surge in the popularity of Barbie dolls.

Sandra Cox said...

I love that they had a doll in a wheelchair but disappointed they discontinued it. Seems like they could have streamlined it somehow, doesn't it?

Elephant's Child said...

Sadly people in wheelchairs often don't fit - and feel that they have been discontinued - or that people would like to do so...

Liz A. said...

Why does discontinuing the doll rather than finding way to make the wheelchair fit sound like so much in disability. I don't specifically remember this doll, but I was working at the evil toy store (now defunct) in 1997, so I had to have seen it.

Lynn Proctor said...

This was so cool to read- my grandson uses a wheelchair- my daughter gets so excited when she sees and toy or model in a wheelchair- btw- we all loved the Barbie movie- and also my daughter is advocacy chair for her son’s PTA!

My name is Erika. said...

It's too bad Becky had to be discontinued just because she didn't fit in the elevator. I wonder if Mattel really tried to remodify the elevator, or just didn't want to be bothered. I do like how Barbie has become more realistic to various jobs and human situations. I wonder how popular Barbie is overall compared to other toys. Looking forward to your next post.

D Kai Wilson-Viola said...

What an interesting subject.
I had lots of Barbies and other dolls - I still have a few original my little ponies too!
I think inclusion is such an important thing - it's a shame it's so often just a little handwave or accessory (for want of a better way to explain how they see it when creating the item itself). I have a couple of invisible disabilities myself, and I find that it's not easy to see any representations of what I am without it being portrayed in the media as one extreme or another.
I'm doing the a-z of my inspirations, mostly because I want to be able to talk about CPTSD and psychosis.
The A to Z of Inspiration for D Kai Wilson-Viola

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Again, WOW. Maybe I am not aware of these dolls because by this time I was an adult with no kids.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

I don't think I saw a Becky doll, of any kind, in the local toy stores when I still played with dolls... Interesting how they re-use names.

Ronel visiting for B: My Languishing TBR: B
Beware the Bogeyman