Celebrating Diversity: Barbie Introduces First Doll With Down Syndrome - The Scene

After decades of empowering young girls, this Barbie is now out here representing people with Down syndrome.

Mattel, the company that owns Barbie, has introduced its first doll with Down syndrome. It’s part of the brand’s Barbie Fashionistas line which aims to represent a more diverse notion of beauty.

With the launch of the line in 2019, Mattel introduced Barbies with a prosthetic leg and another that comes with a wheelchair. Other additions to the line include a doll with hearing aids and one with the skin condition vitiligo.

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This latest Barbie was created alongside a collaboration with the National Down Syndrome Society. The organization was able to give its input on the doll’s shape, features, clothing, accessory, and packaging.

Accurately representing people with Down syndrome was the main goal. Medical professionals have also reviewed and approved the doll.

Depicting the community faithfully

The Barbie doll has a new face and body sculpt, including a shorter frame with a longer torso. Her face has a rounder shape, with smaller ears, flat nasal bridge, and almond-shaped eyes. 

Mattel even considered the small details, like only including a single line in each palm. These features are usually characteristics of people who have the genetic condition.

Her puff-sleeved dress with butterflies and yellow and blue colors are all associated with Down syndrome awareness.

This Barbie also sports pink ankle foot orthotics to match her dress, which people with the condition use to support their feet and ankles.

The final detail, the doll’s pink pendant necklace with three upward arrows, represents the three copies of the 21st chromosome. This is the genetic material that causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

“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,” said Lisa McKnight, Mattel’s executive vice president.

Over the years, Barbie has been able to conquer all sorts of careers. Now, Mattel is committed to becoming more inclusive, creating dolls that can mirror the world around us.

Banner image via Instagram @barbie.

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