On Tuesday (26 April), toy company Mattel announced the launch of its first Barbie doll representing a person with Down syndrome.
This move aims to raise awareness about Down syndrome and promote inclusivity.
Mattel worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to ensure that the doll accurately represents a person with Down syndrome. The NDSS provided guidance on the design features of the doll, and the Barbie's clothing and accessories were created to carry special meanings.
For example, the blue and yellow colors on the doll's dress, along with the butterflies, symbolize Down syndrome awareness. Additionally, the three chevrons on the Barbie's necklace represent how people with Down syndrome have three copies of their 21st chromosome. The Barbie also wears ankle foot orthotics, which some children with Down syndrome use.
The NDSS President and CEO, Kandi Pickard, expressed her excitement about the new Barbie, saying, "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."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition diagnosed in the US today. By introducing a Barbie doll that accurately represents a person with Down syndrome, Mattel hopes to raise awareness and promote inclusivity for people with disabilities.
It's worth noting that around 6,000 babies are born each year in the US with Down syndrome, according to the CDC.
The new Barbie doll that represents a person with Down syndrome is part of Mattel's 2023 Fashionistas line. The line aims to promote diversity and inclusivity in toys by featuring dolls with different abilities, body types, and skin tones.
Other dolls that have been introduced to the Fashionistas line include a Ken doll with a prosthetic leg, a Barbie with hearing aids, and dolls with a skin condition called vitiligo.
Inclusivity and representation in toys can play a significant role in fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance for children with disabilities.
By introducing a Barbie doll that accurately represents a person with Down syndrome, Mattel hopes to promote awareness and acceptance of this condition, and show children that differences should be celebrated.
Moreover, increasing the representation of diverse body types, abilities, and skin tones in toys can help promote inclusivity and combat discrimination.
All children should be able to see themselves reflected in the toys they play with, and toys like the new Barbie doll with Down syndrome can help create a more inclusive and accepting world for everyone.
This is amazing!