Mattel Introduces Barbie Doll With Down Syndrome
Designed closely alongside the National Down Syndrome Society.
“As the most diverse doll line on the market, Barbie plays an important role in a child’s early experiences, and we are dedicated to doing our part to counter social stigma through play,” says Global Head of Barbie and Dolls, Lisa McKnight, in a press release. “Our goal is to enable all children to see themselves in Barbie, while also encouraging children to play with dolls who do not look like themselves. Doll play outside of a child’s own lived experience can teach understanding and build a greater sense of empathy, leading to a more accepting world. We are proud to introduce a Barbie doll with Down syndrome to better reflect the world around us and further our commitment to celebrating inclusion through play,” she continued.
Continuing its commitment to making the doll line as inclusive as possible, Barbie and Mattel worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to ensure that the doll accurately represents a person with Down syndrome. NDSS provided design counsel throughout the entire process, feeding into the doll’s sculpt, clothing, accessories and even packaging.
“It was an honor working with Barbie on the Barbie doll with Down syndrome,” added NDSS President and CEO, Kandi Pickard, NDSS President and CEO. “This means so much for our community, who for the first time, can play with a Barbie doll that looks like them. This Barbie serves as a reminder that we should never underestimate the power of representation. It is a huge step forward for inclusion and a moment that we are celebrating.”
Each aspect of the doll’s design have been carefully curated and thought out, from its body shape to intricate detailing. The new doll also marks the debut of a new face and body sculpt, boasting a shorter frame and longer torso, alongside a single line on its palms — a characteristic which is often associated with Down syndrome.1
The doll’s dress pattern features a yellow and blue butterfly design, both symbols and colors associated with Down syndrome awareness. Elsewhere, Barbie’s pendant necklace features three upward chevrons to represent the three copies of the 21st chromosome, the genetic material which causes the characteristic associated with the syndrome. The doll also features pink ankle foot orthotics (AFOs), which some children with Down syndrome often use in order to support their feet and ankles.
Mattel’s new Barbie joins the existing line of “Fashionistas” dolls, which include varying body types alongside dolls wearing braces and a Ken Fashionista doll with a prosthetic leg.
Take a look at the new doll above, available for purchase from major retailers for a price of $10.99 USD.
While you’re here, check out Barbie’s new Chelsea doll — the first Barbie with scoliosis.