Mattel is adding more diversity to its lineup of dolls, releasing the first-ever Barbie with Down syndrome.
The new doll was created with help from the National Down Syndrome Society, which is made up of people with Down syndrome, plus siblings, parents and others. A representative with Mattel tells Simplemost that the team helped provide input when creating the doll to make sure she accurately represented a person with Down syndrome and “celebrated the Down syndrome community.”
In a press release Mattel describes the doll as having a face and body “more illustrative of women with Down syndrome,” which includes a shorter frame and longer torso. They say the doll’s face also has a rounder shape, while her ears are smaller, her nasal bridge is flat and her eyes are “slightly slanted in an almond shape.”
The doll also has a single line on the palm of her hand, which Mattel says is a “characteristic often associated with those with Down syndrome” and comes with zippered sneakers and ankle foot orthotics, which some children with Down syndrome use to add support to their feet and ankles.
As for the doll’s fashion, she is wearing a yellow and blue dress with butterflies, which are symbols and colors associated with Down syndrome awareness. Even the doll’s necklace was chosen with purpose; Mattel says the chevrons are a symbol used in the the Down syndrome community, and having three of them represents the three copies of the 21st chromosome that lead to Down syndrome.
Barbie invited families of children with Down syndrome to come in to play with the new doll, and the company captured those first meetings in a video they shared on YouTube. Many of the parents talk about how special it is for their kids to have a Barbie that looks like them:
The new doll is part of Barbie’s Fashionistas lineup, which Mattel says has dolls with “a variety of body types, skin tones, eye colors, hair colors and textures and disabilities.”
The line has more than 175 different looks that are here to “tell more stories,” and includes a doll with hearing aids, one with the skin condition vitiligo, a doll that uses a wheelchair, one with a prosthetic limb, another with the hair condition alopecia and more.
While not part of the Fashionistas line, Barbie also recently released a doll with scoliosis. The new doll, named Chelsea, is Barbie’s 7-year-old sister. She has a curve in her spine and wears a back brace, which is both adjustable and removable. She was created with input from Dr. Luke Macyszyn, a neurosurgeon who specializes in children’s spinal disorders.