Skip to Content

Becky Declines Barbie’s Dinner Invitation

By Johnson Cheu

In 1997, Mattel released a doll named Share-a-Smile Becky, who used a wheelchair. The doll's mobility device could not fit through the doors or elevator in Barbie's Dreamhouse. Rather than redesign the building, the company discontinued the doll.

—from “Becky, Barbie's friend who uses a wheelchair, was discontinued” The World, April 9, 2017 and other online sources


I should have figured as much.
After all, it took over thirty years
to realize Barbie’s Malibu
convertible isn’t accident-proof.

I guess I shouldn’t feel so bad.
Even if I could get in the door, I couldn’t
help Barbie with those Easy-bake cookies.
And how would it look —

Barbie in her pink, Cinderella
gown, and iridescent high-heels;
me, in my blue denim vest, blue high-tops,
and childish, flowery, smiley-faced tee? —

Even if I made it through
dinner without having to pee, and Ken
danced with me, sitting on my lap,
well, the bedroom’s upstairs too.

I’m sure I’m not missing much.
After all, what was I hoping for?
An accessible house? Somebody
pinch me, I must be dreaming.




Listen as Johnson Cheu reads Becky Declines Barbie’s Dinner Invitation.

Added: Thursday, February 8, 2024  /  Used with permission. This poem appeared for the first time in Pudding Magazine. 47 (Fall 2003): 40.
Johnson Cheu

Johnson Cheu’s poetry and essays have appeared in publications such as Family Matters: Poems of our Families, Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American ImagesStaring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out, Another Chicago Magazine, Academy of American Poets’ "Poem-a-Day," Booth and other journals. He served as the inaugural fiction/poetry editor of Disability Studies Quarterly and is the editor of scholarly film collections on Disney, Tim Burton, and Robin Williams. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Cultures at Michigan State University.

Image Description: Johnson Cheu appears in black and white. He is outside an office building in his wheelchair and wears a black sweatshirt and glasses.

Other poems by this author