Did Mattel Really Make a Barbie Friend Named “Wheelchair Becky”?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about toys and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of all toy urban legends featured so far!

TOY URBAN LEGEND: Mattel initially produced a friend of Barbie’s called “Wheelchair Becky.”

Mattel certainly is no stranger to awkward moments over the decades that they’ve produced Barbie dolls. After all, they’ve done so many versions of the doll that they are almost bound to screw up now and again. I’ve even covered one of these instances in the past, when Sleepover Barbie came with a diet book that advised girls simply “don’t eat.”

This brings us to the case of Barbie’s friend, Becky, who is in a wheelchair.

The website “Climbing Every Mountain” (but really, this information has popped up a number of places”) discussed the doll…

In 1997, Mattel ignored even the basic “People First” language with Wheelchair Becky. When a little girl with cerebral palsy complained, they renamed the doll Share-a-Smile Becky. Most advocates would say, “Becky” would have been enough.

Is that true?
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