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First-Ever Barbie Doll With Down Syndrome

The doll's dress pattern includes butterflies along with yellow and blue colours - symbols associated with Down syndrome awareness.

Image Source: British model Ellie Goldstein poses with Barbie’s first doll with Down’s syndrome, in London, U.K, April 17, 2023. (Reuters Photos)

Toy manufacturer Mattel has unveiled a new Barbie doll representing a person with Down syndrome, as it seeks to allow more children to see themselves in the popular figure.

"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, Mattel executive vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls, said.

"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, and teach understanding and build a greater sense of empathy, leading to a more accepting world " she added in a statement.

Currently available through US retailers, the new doll has a face and body sculpt aimed at being "more illustrative of women with Down syndrome, including a shorter frame and a longer torso, and pink ankle foot orthotics to match the outfit." Mattel said.

For example, the face sculpt has a rounder shape, smaller ears and a flat nasal bridge. The eyes are slightly slanted as well in an almond shape.

Disability advocates have hailed the doll's release as a "huge step forward" for social inclusion.

Designed in partnership with the US National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), the new Barbie is the latest edition to the Mattel brand’s Fashionistas line, which features a range of diverse dolls.

Mattel says that the Fashionistas line consisting of 175 dolls is the cornerstone of the Barbie brand, and is reflective of the importance that the brand places on representation, diversity and inclusivity.

Last year, half of the dolls sold by the brand were diverse dolls, with the bestselling dolls a Barbie in a wheelchair and a Black doll with an afro hairstyle. This year’s collection also includes a Barbie with braces and a Ken doll with a prosthetic leg.

Down Syndrome NSW CEO, Emily Caska said, "We welcome this announcement and look forward to the dolls hitting Australian stores through Mattel’s distributors here."

The new Barbie is pictured above with Ellie Goldstein, the first model with Down syndrome who recently appeared on the cover of British Vogue.

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