The National Down Syndrome Society is applauding Mattel for releasing its first-ever Barbie doll with Down syndrome, calling it a “huge step forward for inclusion.”
Barbie worked with the National Down Syndrome Society and a medical professional to produce the doll, which includes a “new face and body sculpt to be more illustrative of women with Down syndrome, including a shorter frame and a longer torso,” according to a news release. The doll’s dress includes butterflies and yellow and blue colors, which are “symbols and colors associated with Down syndrome awareness,” the release said.
The $10.99 doll is available in limited quantities now and will be sold in stores this summer and fall.
“It was an honor working with Barbie on the Barbie doll with Down syndrome,” said Kandi Pickard, president of the National Down Syndrome Society. “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.”
The doll also includes the following:
- A pink pendant necklace with “three upward chevrons” representing the “three copies of the 21st chromosome.” The three chevrons “are a symbol that unites the Down syndrome community and are meant to represent ‘the lucky few’ who have someone with Down syndrome in their life.”
- Pink ankle foot orthotics that match Barbie’s outfit. Some children with Down syndrome use orthotics. The National Down Syndrome Society provided real-life orthotics for the sculptor to match.
- A line on the doll’s palm. The single line is a “characteristic often associated with those with Down syndrome,” the release said.
“As the most diverse doll line on the market, 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,” said Lisa McKnight, executive vice president at 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. We are proud to introduce a Barbie doll with Down syndrome to better reflect the world around us and further our commitment to celebrating inclusion through play.”
Photo courtesy: ©Mattel, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.