NDSS PARTNERS WITH MATTEL TO BRING THE FIRST BARBIE WITH DOWN SYNDROME TO THE TOY AISLE
APRIL 25, 2023– Barbie is marking a new first in the doll's 64-year history. On Tuesday, Mattel unveiled the first-ever Barbie doll with Down syndrome. The new Barbie was created through a partnership between Mattel and the National Down Syndrome Society, which describes itself as "the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome."
To ensure the doll accurately represents a person with Down syndrome, Barbie worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). NDSS empowers individuals with Down syndrome and their families by providing resources, driving policy change, engaging with local communities. NDSS’s guidance and real-world experiences informed the design process from start to finish, including the doll’s sculpt, clothing, accessories and packaging. The close partnership ensured the Barbie team celebrated individuals with Down syndrome through a doll that would immediately connect with the community.
Counseled by NDSS, Barbie was purposeful with every design choice for the doll, including:
Sculpt: 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.1
Fashion & Accessories: The doll’s puff sleeved dress pattern features butterflies and yellow and blue colors, which are symbols and colors associated with Down syndrome awareness. The doll’s pink pendant necklace with three upward chevrons represents the three copies of the 21st chromosome, which is the genetic material that causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. The three chevrons, or arrows, 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.
Orthotics: 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 colors in her design.
Children’s early experiences help shape their thoughts and perceptions – and Barbie can play an important role in this process. When a child plays with Barbie, they play out their dreams and imagine they can be anything. Doll play has an incredible purpose during key developmental stages as it may help set children on a course for success by allowing them to develop empathy – fueling social skills needed to excel as they imagine their futures with an equal playing field2. The Barbie doll with Down syndrome allows more children to see themselves in Barbie as well as the world around them, which can help foster a sense of inclusivity.
Barbie is the most inclusive doll line on the market – with over 175 looks offering a variety of eye colors, hair colors and textures, body types, disabilities and fashions to tell more stories. Barbie has introduced dolls with vitiligo, dolls that use a wheelchair or a prosthetic limb, a doll with hearing aids and a doll without hair. This year, Barbie is continuing to represent global belonging and inclusivity with the full 2023 Fashionistas lineup, which also includes new dolls in a variety of body types including a new Fashionista doll wearing braces and a Ken Fashionista doll with a prosthetic leg.
The 2023 Fall Fashionistas dolls, including the Barbie doll with Down syndrome, are available in limited quantities online now and in store this Summer and Fall at major retailers for $10.99 USD.
ABOUT THE PRODUCT
Barbie® Fashionistas™ celebrate diversity and offer endless possibilities for storytelling and fashion exploration. With this inclusive range of dolls, kids can see how fun it is to express personality through style! They’re an ideal gift for fashion-loving kids everywhere. Each sold separately, subject to availability. Dolls cannot stand alone. Colors and decorations may vary.
Designed to reflect the world kids see today, this diverse line of Barbie® Fashionistas™ showcases bright and trendy styles that make for endless storytelling possibilities.
Meet the first Barbie® doll with Down syndrome! Barbie® partnered with the National Down Syndrome Society to design a doll that celebrates this community.
Meaningful symbols are incorporated throughout her outfit, like butterflies -- which are a symbol of Down syndrome -- and the blue and yellow color palette, which represents Down syndrome awareness.
Her pink pendant necklace has three arrows to represent the third 21st chromosome that individuals with Down syndrome have, and they point outwards to represent rising up and moving forward.
Barbie® doll’s pink ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) match her outfit perfectly and support her as she walks, while her white sneakers have a zipper detail so kids can easily slip them on and off!
She has blond hair and rocks a floral dress with puff sleeves! With such a versatile and stylish look, this Barbie® doll is ready for any adventure that kids dream up!
Kids 3 years old and up can collect other Barbie® Fashionistas™ dolls for even more fun with friends and fashion at playtime!