Strictly Come Dancing star Rose Ayling-Ellis has teamed up with Barbie to unveil its first doll with behind-the-ear hearing aids.
The EastEnders actress, who won the dance competition in 2021, features in the Rose, Barbie & Friends campaign.
She joins a cast of diverse models who reflect the new line of dolls, which includes the first Ken doll with vitiligo, one with a prosthetic limb and another with a wheelchair.
Ayling-Ellis, who has been deaf since birth, said: “It’s so important for children to be able to see themselves represented in the toys they play with.”
“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.”
The Barbie Fashionistas line is available in the UK from Thursday (18 August).
‘A positive step towards inclusion’
Mattel consulted with experts on the dolls in order to accurately portray the hearing aids.
Educational audiologist Dr Jen Richardson said she was “honoured” to work on the line, stating: “It’s inspiring those who experience hard of hearing reflected in a doll.
“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 charity is “delighted” the doll has come out and that it is a “really positive step towards inclusion”.
She added: “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.
“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.”