Representations of the Sporting Female: Queering Paralympic Barbie

  • Hayley Fitzgerald
  • Scarlett Drury
  • Annette Stride


This chapter takes as a central focus Barbie Becky Paralympic Champion (1999). Becky is one of the many Barbie dolls produced by the toy manufacturer Mattel and is a wheelchair user. For many young people these dolls can hold significant currency that contributes towards defining the ways in which they embody femininity (and/or masculinity). We draw on critical disability studies and queer theory to better understand how Becky disrupts and reproduces unified representations of the sporting female. The existence of Becky could be interpreted as a forward-thinking attempt by Mattel to diversify the range of identities available to young people. A more critical engagement with Becky demonstrates that she is nonetheless a product of a neo-liberal industry that reproduces patterns of inequality.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hayley Fitzgerald
    • 1
  • Scarlett Drury
    • 1
  • Annette Stride
    • 1
  1. 1.Leeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK

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