Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) has announced the release of a new Barbie doll with Down syndrome in a move towards greater inclusivity. The latest addition to the diverse doll line has been designed to allow more children to see themselves reflected in Barbie, and for Barbie to better represent the world around them. The Barbie doll with Down syndrome is expected to inspire all children to tell more stories through play.
The new doll has been designed in consultation with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to ensure it accurately represents a person with Down syndrome. NDSS, which provides resources and support to empower individuals with Down syndrome and their families, worked closely with Barbie during the design process from start to finish, including the doll’s sculpt, clothing, accessories, and packaging.
The doll’s face and body sculpt have been designed to be more illustrative of women with Down syndrome, including a shorter frame and a longer torso, a rounder face shape, smaller ears, a flat nasal bridge, and almond-shaped eyes that are slightly slanted. The doll’s palms also include a single line, a characteristic often associated with those with Down syndrome.
The doll’s fashion and accessories have been purposefully chosen, with a puff-sleeved dress pattern featuring butterflies and yellow and blue colors that are symbols of Down syndrome awareness. The doll’s pink pendant necklace with three upward chevrons represents the three copies of the 21st chromosome, the genetic material that causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. The doll also wears pink ankle foot orthotics (AFOs) to match her outfit, with sneakers that feature a zipper detail.
“We are dedicated to doing our part to counter social stigma through play,” said Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls, 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.”
Kandi Pickard, NDSS President and CEO, stated that “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.”
Barbie is considered the most inclusive doll line on the market, with over 175 looks offering a variety of eye colors, hair colors and textures, body types, disabilities, and fashions to tell more stories. This year, Barbie is continuing to represent global belonging and inclusivity with the full 2023 Fashionistas lineup, which includes new dolls in a variety of body types, including a new Fashionista doll wearing braces and a Ken Fashionista doll with a prosthetic leg.
The 2023 Fall Fashionistas dolls, including the Barbie doll with Down syndrome, are now available in limited quantities online and will be available in stores this summer and fall at major retailers for $10.99 USD.
Barbie’s move towards greater inclusivity is expected to set a precedent for other toy companies to follow, providing children with a more representative selection of toys that better reflect the world around them. The new Barbie doll with Down syndrome serves as a reminder of the power of representation and the importance of inclusion in the toy industry.