Barbie with Down syndrome to educate children

The Barbie Fashionista doll with Down syndrome. Picture: Supplied

The Barbie Fashionista doll with Down syndrome. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 29, 2023


Mattel, Inc. has announced their latest addition, a Barbie with Down syndrome, to allow more children to see themselves in the doll.

The creators have indicated that the doll is meant to inspire children.

The doll was launched this week in Johannesburg.

Lisa McKnight, executive vice-president and global head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel, said the doll was more of an educational toy: “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.

“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.”

They said to ensure the doll accurately represents a person with Down syndrome, Barbie worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS).

Kandi Pickard, NDSS president and CEO, said : “It was an honour working with Barbie on the Barbie doll with Down syndrome. 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.”

NDSS was part of the design and they have indicated that it has a new face and body structure with a shorter frame and a longer torso.

The features include a rounder shape, smaller ears, and a flat nasal bridge, and the eyes are slightly slanted in an almond shape. The doll’s palms include a single line, often associated with those with Down syndrome.

With fashion, the doll’s clothes are symbols and colours associated with Down syndrome awareness.

According to the creators, the Barbie Fashionista doll with Down syndrome also wears pink ankle foot orthotics (AFOs) to match her outfit and her sneakers tout a zipper detail. Some children with Down syndrome use orthotics to support their feet and ankles, and NDSS provided a box of orthotics to serve as real-life inspiration for the ones this Barbie Fashionista is wearing, matched to her outfit and the bright colours in her design.

Weekend Argus

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