(WJW) — Mattel Inc. has announced its first Barbie doll with Down syndrome as part of the new, diverse 2023 Barbie Fashionistas line.
According to Mattel, Barbie Inc. worked with the National Down Syndrome Society to design a doll that accurately represents a person with Down Syndrome and celebrates the community.
The new Barbie has meaningful symbols throughout her outfit. Those include:
- Butterflies, a symbol of Down syndrome
- A blue and yellow color palette, which represents Down syndrome awareness
- A pink pendant necklace with three arrows that represent the third 21st chromosome, and they point outwards to represent rising up and moving forward.
- A pink ankle foot orthoses that matches her outfit and, “supports her as she walks, while her white sneakers have a zipper detail so kids can easily slip them on and off!” Mattel said.
“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,” Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel, said in a statement from 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.”
According to the statement, the new doll introduces a new face and body shape, reflective of women with Down syndrome. That includes a shorter frame, longer torso, and a new, rounder face shape with smaller ears, a flat nasal bridge and almond-shaped eyes.
The doll’s palms even include a single line, a characteristic often associated with those with Down syndrome.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Down syndrome is a genetic condition where a person is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. A person with Down syndrome has a total of 47 chromosomes instead of 46, which can affect how their brain and body develop.
Down syndrome is the most common chromosome-related condition in the United States with about 6,000 babies born with the condition each year, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Mattel also says the Barbie doll with Down syndrome’s physical features was reviewed by a medical professional.
“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
Other dolls in the 2023 Fashionistas lineup feature a variety of body types such as a Barbie doll with a prosthetic leg and a Ken doll with a wheelchair and ramp.
Mattel says, “Barbie Fashionistas celebrate diversity and offer endless possibilities for storytelling and fashion exploration.”
All 2023 Fashionistas dolls, including the Barbie doll with Down syndrome, can be purchased for $10.99.