Barbie Introduces New Doll Representing Person With Down Syndrome

The company worked in conjunction with the National Down Syndrome Society to create its newest Fashionista doll

NBC Universal, Inc.

Mattel unveiled a new Barbie doll representing a person with Down syndrome on Tuesday.

The doll is the latest addition to the Barbie Fashionistas line, which is aimed at offering kids more representations of beauty and fighting the stigma around physical disabilities.

"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, Mattel's executive vice president and global head of Barbie & Dolls.

"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,' McKnight added. "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."

Mattel said it worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) during the doll's design process, including sculpting, clothing, accessories and packaging.

"It was an honor working with Barbie on the Barbie doll with Down syndrome," NDSS president and CEO Kandi Pickard 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."

The doll features a new face and body sculpt to be more representative of women with Down syndrome, including a rounder face, smaller ears, flat nasal bridge and eyes slightly slanted in an almond shape. The doll's palms also include a single line, which is a characteristic often associated with people with Down syndrome. A medical professional reviewed the physical features of the new doll.

The doll's dress is yellow and blue, two colors associated with Down syndrome awareness, and features butterflies. A pink necklace includes three chevrons meant to symbolize the three copies of the 21st chromosome, the genetic material that causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. The doll also has ankle and foot orthotics, which some children with Down syndrome use to support their lower body.

Barbie released a video of children with Down syndrome playing with the new doll, along with parents' accounts of why the doll means so much.

Mattel said the Barbie doll with Down syndrome, along with other 2023 Fall Fashionista dolls, is available in limited quantities online and will hit shelves this summer and fall for $10.99.

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