Mattel creates new Barbie doll


Lily Cravens

     Toy company Mattel has introduced its first Barbie doll representing a person with Down syndrome. Mattel has worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society to determine the doll’s facial shape and features, plus the clothing and accessories; the Society aimed to accurately represent people with this condition. The doll features a shorter frame and a longer torso than the generic Barbie, plus a new rounder face with flatter nose, slanted almond-shaped eyes, and smaller ears. The palms of the doll contain a singular line, which is a characteristic of Down syndrome. It also comes with ankle and foot orthotics, which children with this condition use. The outfit the doll wears is a yellow and blue puff-sleeve dress with butterflies, which are each associated with awareness. The Barbie wears a pink necklace with three upward chevrons, which represents the three copies of the 21st chromosome that causes Down syndrome. 

     This version is one of the many new dolls in the Mattel Barbie Fashionistas line, which offers a more diverse representation of dolls, many of which include physical disabilities. For example, dolls in this line have featured hearing aids, wheelchairs, prosthetics, and skin conditions, like vitiligo. There are also Ken dolls in this series, which represents a male. Barbie now comes in seven skin tones, four body types, twenty-four hairstyles, and twenty-two eye colors. All dolls now attempt to make a more realistic image in their appearance. Their goal is that the children who play with the toys can see themselves. 

     As NDSS President and CEO Kandi Pickard said, “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.”