Mattel launches first-ever Barbie doll with Down's syndrome

British model Ellie Goldstein appears in a campaign with the new Barbie
British model Ellie Goldstein appears in a campaign with the new Barbie   -  Copyright  Mattel
By David Mouriquand

Mattel has announced that it has launched its first Barbie doll with Down’s syndrome as part of its diverse Fashionistas line.

Mattel has announced that it has launched its first Barbie doll with Down’s syndrome as part of its diverse Fashionistas line. 

The doll was "created to allow even more children to see themselves in Barbie, as well as have Barbie reflect the world around them," the popular toy manufacturer said in a press release. "The Barbie doll with Down syndrome is meant to inspire all children to tell more stories through play."

The makers of Barbie created the doll in close partnership with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) in the US.

Trailblazing British model Ellie Goldstein, who has Down’s syndrome, appeared in a campaign with the new Barbie.

“I am so happy that there is a Barbie with Down’s syndrome,” said Goldstein. “Seeing the doll, I felt so overwhelmed – it meant a lot to me and I’m so honoured and proud that Barbie chose me to show the doll to the world. Diversity is important to me as people need to see more people like me out there in the world and not be hidden away.”

Goldstein, 21, advocates for inclusivity and made history as the first model with Down’s syndrome to feature in major international campaigns for brands such as Gucci Beauty and Nike.

Barbie’s consultation with the NDSS led to the introduction of a new face and body sculpt to be more illustrative of women with Down’s syndrome.

"The doll's puff sleeved dress pattern features butterflies and yellow and blue colours, which are symbols and colours associated with Down syndrome awareness," Mattel said.

As for Barbie's shape, Mattel stated: "This doll introduces a new face and body sculpt to be more illustrative of women with Down syndrome, including a shorter frame and a longer torso. The new face sculpt features a rounder shape, smaller ears, and a flat nasal bridge, while the eyes are slightly slanted in an almond shape. The doll's palms even include a single line, a characteristic often associated with those with Down syndrome."

Mattel
The new Barbie doll wears a necklace with three upward chevronsMattel

The doll wears a pink necklace with three upward chevrons representing the three copies of the 21st chromosome, which is the genetic material that causes the characteristics associated with the condition. The doll also wears pink ankle foot orthotics (AFOs) matching her outfit – commonly used by children with Down’s syndrome in the US.

“This means so much for our community, who for the first time, can play with a Barbie doll that looks like them,” said Kandi Pickard, NDSS president and CEO. “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.”

About one in every 772 babies in the US is born with Down syndrome, according to NDSS, representing around 5,100 babies each year.

Mattel
The 2023 Fashionistas lineMattel

The 2023 Fashionistas line also features a Barbie wearing braces, with hearing aids, prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs, among others. The new Barbie with Down syndrome is available online now and will be available in retail stores this summer and fall, according to Mattel.

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