1 of 3 | Mattel unveiled a new Barbie with Down syndrome Tuesday to help more children see themselves in the popular doll and to teach "inclusion through play." Photo courtesy of Mattel
April 25 (UPI) -- Barbie is adding a new doll with Down syndrome to help more children see themselves in the popular doll and to teach "inclusion through play."
Mattel announced the Down syndrome addition to the Barbie lineup Tuesday after working closely with the National Down Syndrome Society to make sure the doll's sculpt, clothing, accessories, and packaging were accurate.
"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," said Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel.
"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," McKnight said, adding that the new doll is a reflection of Mattel's goal to "better reflect the world around us and further our commitment to celebrating inclusion through play."
Down syndrome remains the most common chromosomal condition diagnosed in the United States, occurring in about 1 in every 700 babies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Babies with Down syndrome are born with an extra copy of chromosome 21, which changes how a baby's body and brain develop, creating mental and physical challenges.
The new Barbie's face is rounder with almond-shaped eyes that slant up, and the body is shorter with a longer torso. The doll wears a dress pattern featuring butterflies in yellow and blue, which are associated with Down syndrome awareness.
Barbie also wears a pink necklace with three upward chevrons, representing the three copies of the 21st chromosome.
And the doll wears pink ankle foot orthotics to match her outfit. NDSS has provided a box of orthotics to match the ones Barbie is wearing, as some children with Down syndrome use orthotics to support their feet and ankles.
"It was an honor working with Barbie on the Barbie doll with Down syndrome," said Kandi Pickard, NDSS president and chief executive officer.
"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. It is a huge step forward for inclusion and a moment that we are celebrating," Pickard said.
The new Barbie with Down syndrome joins Mattel's 2023 Fashionistas lineup, which includes dolls with various body types, a doll wearing braces, a Barbie in a wheelchair and a Ken Fashionista doll with a prosthetic leg.
The Barbie doll with Down syndrome is available now online for $10.99 and will be available at major retailers starting this summer.