Last week Mattel made a huge reveal in its storied Barbie doll line: a new Barbie with Down Syndrome. Since there are thousands of children in the United States with Down Syndrome, the most common chromosomal disorder, the new Barbie offers these kiddos an opportunity to “see themselves in Barbie, as well as have Barbie reflect the world around them,” Mattel said in a press release. Another benefit of this new doll is that kids without Down Syndrome can add this Barbie to their collection and make her a valuable part of their play community, just as people with Down Syndrome are a valuable part of the community at large.
Mattel worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society to create this new Barbie. Like most with Down Syndrome, she is shorter in stature, has a longer torso, smaller ears, a rounder facial shape, a flat nasal bridge and “almond shaped” eyes. She also features leg braces, which many children with Down Syndrome wear at some point growing up.
“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,” Mattel’s press release said.
Even Barbie’s wardrobe makes a statement: her dress is blue and yellow, the colors of Down Syndrome awareness.