Barbie fans and disability rights groups alike are celebrating a new addition to Mattel’s line of inclusive Barbies: the first ever Barbie doll with Down syndrome.
Partnering with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), Mattel created the doll for Barbie’s Fashionistas line. “Barbie Fashionistas celebrate diversity and offer endless possibilities for storytelling and fashion exploration,” the website reads. “With this inclusive range of dolls, kids can see how fun it is to express personality through style!”
The doll with Down syndrome comes with a blue-and-yellow butterfly-patterned dress, a pink necklace with three arrows, and pink ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) which match her outfit. She also comes with white sneakers, outfitted with a zipper detail so they can easily come on and off. The doll also has a shorter frame and longer torso, almond-shaped eyes, a flat nasal bridge, small ears, and even a single line across the palm — all common physical characteristics of Down syndrome. NDSS also had a medical professional help review the doll for the most accuracy possible.
Previous additions to the Fashionistas line include dolls with vitiligo, limb differences, and hearing aids, as well as a doll without hair and a doll that uses a wheelchair.
Kandi Pickard, NDSS President and CEO, said they worked closely with Mattel to make sure the doll represented the Down syndrome community well.
“It was an honor working with Barbie on the Barbie doll with Down syndrome,” she said. “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.”
Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls for Mattel, said children with Down syndrome and other disabilities deserve the opportunity to see toys which represent them.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Editor’s note. This appears at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.