Toy company Mattel has taken a huge step forward in promoting diversity and inclusivity by unveiling the first Down Syndrome Barbie Doll.
This new Barbie is part of the inclusive 2023 Fashionistas doll line and aims to teach children the importance of empathy and acceptance and promote Down syndrome awareness.
Down Syndrome: A Quick Overview
Down syndrome is the most prevalent chromosome-related disorder in the US, affecting roughly 6000 newborns.
It is a genetic disorder where a person with Down syndrome has an extra copy of chromosome 21, causing developmental delays, learning disabilities, and other health problems.
The New Barbie Doll with Down Syndrome: A Collaborative Effort
To guarantee that the new doll accurately represents a person with Down syndrome, Mattel collaborated closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS).
The new doll mimics the characteristics of a person with Down syndrome by having a round face, shorter frame, longer torso, smaller ears, and almond-shaped, slanted eyes.
The doll also features pink ankle foot orthotics to represent kids who wear orthotics for support.
Barbie’s clothing and pink pendant necklace also have special significance. The yellow and blue dress with butterflies symbolizes Down syndrome awareness.
Meanwhile, the three upward chevron designs on Barbie’s necklace represent the three copies of the 21st chromosome.
Expanding the Inclusive Doll Line: Barbie Fashionistas
Previously, Barbie dolls were criticized for setting unrealistic beauty standards for women, which were connected to eating disorders in young girls emulating her figure.
Lisa McKnight, the global head of Barbie & Dolls at Mattel, emphasized the company’s commitment to creating an inclusive doll line that reflects diverse skin tones, abilities, and backgrounds.
“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,” McKnight said.
Barbie Fashionistas, which includes the Barbie with Down syndrome, has introduced dolls with hearing aids, a Ken doll with prosthetic legs, and Barbie with vitiligo, among others.
The Impact of Representation
CEO Kandi Pickard of the NDSS expressed her excitement about the first Barbie doll representing a person with Down syndrome, saying, “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.”
British model Ellie Goldstein, who has Down syndrome, shared her excitement and pride on Instagram about the new doll.
Goldstein emphasized the importance of diversity and representation, stating that the doll would help people see more individuals like her in the world.
Barbie serves as a powerful symbol of representation, and this new addition highlights the importance of embracing diversity and having a positive attitude on disability.
Recently, the upcoming Greta Gerwig Barbie live-action movie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, made a buzz with its trailer release. The movie features a diverse cast, such as Issa Rae, Dua Lipa, Alexandra Shipp, Simu Liu, and Ncuti Gatwai, representing different versions of Barbie and Ken.
The Barbie selfie generator also went viral, where anyone can upload their photos and have their own Barbie or Ken posters.
Celebrate Inclusivity with the Down Syndrome Barbie Doll
With Mattel releasing the Down syndrome Barbie doll, they are setting a significant milestone for the toy industry by championing inclusivity and representation to foster empathy and understanding in kids.
The new Barbie doll with Down syndrome is available online and will be available at select retailers this summer and fall for $10.99.