Barbie Doll with Down Syndrome Released in a Huge Step Forward for Inclusion

by Asmaa Elwahy

Barbie doll with Down syndrome released in a huge step forward for inclusion

Mattel recently unveiled its first Barbie doll depicting a person with Down syndrome. The intention of Mattel’s Barbie Fashionistas collection is to provide youngsters with representations that are more diverse. Other dolls in the collection include those who use a hearing aid, have a prosthetic leg, or use a wheelchair.

“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,” said Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel.

“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.” She added the company was “proud” of the doll that “better reflects the world around us”.

Barbie collaborated closely with the National Down Syndrome Society in the United States on creating the doll. The society offered guidance and help with the design process from start to finish.

This includes sculpting the face and body, adding fashion and accessories (including the colours yellow and blue, which are associated with Down’s syndrome awareness) and the inclusion of pink ankle foot orthotics that are sometimes worn by children to support their feet and ankles. She also wears a pink pendant necklace with three arrows that represent the third 21st chromosome that individuals with Down’s syndrome have.

Over the past few years, Mattel has aimed at increasing diversity and inclusivity. In 2020, the company unveiled a doll with vitiligo, a condition in which a person’s skin loses pigment, typically in patches, and another with the hair-loss condition alopecia.

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