Mattel introduces first Barbie doll representing person with Down syndrome

Representation is an important topic these days. A lot of companies are now making sure they represent minorities and communities often overlooked. And Mattel is leading the charge once again with their new Barbie. Keep reading to learn more!

On Tuesday, Mattel introduced their first-ever Barbie with Down Syndrome.

The doll is a part of Mattel’s Barbie Fashionistas line which represents diversity so it can fight the stigma around physical disabilities being considered ‘undesirable.’

Previous dolls released as a part of the line included a doll with a prosthetic leg, one Barbie with hearing aids, another Barbie that came with a wheelchair, and a Barbie with vitiligo; a skin condition that causes patches of the skin to lose color.

Mattel said they worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to make sure the doll was accurate. They consulted the NDSS on the doll’s shape, features, clothes, accessories as well as packaging to make sure the representation was as accurate as possible. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition that affects cognitive ability and can cause learning disabilities which can range anywhere from mild to severe. The condition also comes with facial characteristics.

In a statement by Kandi Pickard, NDSS president and CEO, she said, “This means so much for our community, who for the first time, can play with a Barbie doll that looks like them.” She further added, “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.”

Barbie x NDSS Fashionista Doll
When kids play with dolls, they develop empathy and social skills that may help them to better understand and empower themselves and the world around them – which is why we are so proud to partner with the National Down Syndrome Society to introduce the first Barbie doll with Down syndrome. 💕​“This means so much for our community,” says Kandi Pickard, President and CEO of the National Down Syndrome Society. “We should never underestimate the power of representation. It is a huge step forward for inclusion.”

Posted by Barbie on Monday, April 24, 2023
Mattel has only recently focused on diversity but the brand had been under fire by critics for promoting unrealistic beauty standards for girls around the globe for years.

After noticing a soft decline in sales, Mattel introduced variance in their dolls. In 2016 they introduced four body types and seven skin tones, with 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. Three years later they launched the Fashionista line where more diversity was introduced.

Mattel said their dolls were reviewed by medical professionals. The new doll features a new face and body sculpt which is illustrative of women with Down syndrome; these include having a shorter frame and a longer torso. The face also features a rounder shape, smaller ears, a flat nasal bridge, and eyes that are slightly slanted and almond-shaped.

The doll also has a single line on its palm; a characteristic often associated with people with Down syndrome, Mattel explained.

Toy maker Mattel has introduced its first Barbie with Down’s syndrome in a bid to make its famous doll range more…

Posted by Rappler on Tuesday, April 25, 2023
The latest Barbie wears pink ankle foot orthotics which match her dress. Her sneakers feature a zipper to represent children with Down syndrome as some of them use orthotics to support their feet and ankles. Look at Down Syndrome Barbie here.

The new Barbie’s dress features butterflies and yellow and blue colors; these colors are used to create awareness about Down Syndrome.

Another little detail to focus on is the doll’s pink pendant necklace which has three upward chevrons, which is a symbol that unites the Down syndrome community. This symbol represents the three copies of the 21st chromosome which happens to be the genetic material that causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

“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,” said Lisa McKnight, Mattel’s executive vice president and global head of barbie & dolls.

“Doll play outside of a child’s own lived experience can teach understanding and build a greater sense of empathy…. 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 added.

All in all, this is such a wonderful initiative by Mattel to make sure children feel included and all kinds of beauty is celebrated! Share this with others to let them know about the new Barbie too!

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