Southeast Asian parents, your child’s toy box is about to get a lot more inclusive! Mattel has just released the first-ever Barbie Doll with Down syndrome.
Collaborative Effort for Accurate Representation
Mattel worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society to ensure that the doll accurately represented a person with Down syndrome. The doll’s dress features butterflies, yellow, and blue colours that are associated with Down syndrome awareness.
Accessories, including a pendant necklace with three chevrons, represent the three copies of the 21st chromosome.
The doll also comes with ankle foot orthotics, which many children with Down syndrome use for support.
According to Kandi Pickard, NDSS president and CEO, “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.”
Mattel’s Commitment to Inclusivity and Diversity
The launch of the first-ever Barbie doll with Down syndrome is one of many inclusivity and diversity efforts made by Mattel. In 2020, the Barbie Fashionistas line featured dolls with vitiligo, no hair, darker skin tones, and prosthetic limbs.
The 2023 Fashionistas lineup introduces new dolls in various body types, including a doll wearing braces and a Ken doll with a prosthetic leg. Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie and Dolls explains that the goal is to encourage children to play with dolls that don’t look like them while also enabling them to see themselves in Barbie.
“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,” said McKnight.
A Collaborative Effort for Accurate Representation
The creation of the Barbie doll with Down syndrome was a collaborative effort that involved the input and guidance of people with Down syndrome, including Charlotte Woodward and Kayla McKeon. Notably, the design process included numerous rounds of sketches and feedback.
Additionally, the doll’s physical features were reviewed by a medical professional. Her face features a rounder shape, smaller ears, and a flat nasal bridge, while her body includes a shorter frame and a longer torso. These changes make the doll more representative of women with Down syndrome, and ultimately more inclusive for all children.
Representation Matters with Barbie Doll
At any rate, the launch of the first-ever Barbie doll with Down syndrome is a powerful reminder that representation matters. And that all children deserve to see themselves reflected in the toys they play with!
As Michelle Sagan of the National Down Syndrome Society told CBS News, “This is important not just for people with Down syndrome and their families, but also every individual out there who wants to play with dolls – whether they have a disability or not.”
Celebrating Inclusivity and Diversity with a Barbie Doll
As Southeast Asian parents, it’s important to celebrate this momentous occasion and continue to support companies that prioritize inclusivity and diversity. Moreover, Mattel’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity through their dolls is a step in the right direction towards creating a more accepting and empathetic world.
Basically, the launch of the first-ever Barbie doll with Down syndrome is a huge win for inclusivity and representation in the toy industry. Furthermore, let’s continue to push for more diverse and inclusive toys. So that all children can see themselves reflected in the toys they play with.
Embark on Your Journey to Champion Change with Barbie®!
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