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Barbie With Down Syndrome is the Latest Win for Inclusivity

by Carmella D'Acquisto

In a big win for representation, Mattel is releasing a new Barbie doll with Down syndrome that is designed to give children with a variety of disabilities a toy that better represents them. 


Ellie Goldstein (above) is a British model with Down syndrome who has been tapped to launch the new product, a collaboration between Mattel designers and the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) “I am so happy that there is a Barbie with Down’s syndrome,” she said. “Seeing the doll, I felt so overwhelmed – it meant a lot to me and I’m so honored and proud that Barbie chose me to show the doll to the world. Diversity is important to me as people need to see more people like me out there in the world and not be hidden away.”

The doll is designed with features that portray some of the physical characteristics of a person with Down syndrome. These include a longer torso, shorter frame, rounder face, smaller ears, flatter nasal bridge, and slightly slanted almond-shaped eyes. Barbie’s palms even feature a single line, which is a trait often seen in people with Down syndrome.  

This Barbie is the latest expansion of Mattel’s annual Barbie Fashionista line, which includes Barbie’s with a variety of disabilities and physical differences including a wheelchair user, a doll with vitiligo, a bald doll, a doll with a prosthetic leg and other examples. 

“It was an honor working with Barbie on the Barbie doll with Down syndrome,” said Kandi Pickard, NDSS President and CEO. “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.”


It isn’t just the sculpt of the doll that was thoughtfully crafted: the fashion, accessories and orthotics were also considered. The doll’s puffed sleeves feature butterflies and yellow and blue colors, both associated with Down syndrome awareness. Barbie wears a pink necklace with three upward arrows, a design that many parents of children with autism get tattooed. Each arrow represents one of the three copies of the 21st chromosome, in a design that has been called “the lucky few” as a way for parents and family members to celebrate their loved ones with Down syndrome. Mattel also included orthotics in the form of an ankle boot, because some people with Down syndrome employ the use of orthotics to support their feet and ankle.



“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 Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel. “Doll play outside of a child’s own lived experience can teach understanding and build a greater sense of empathy, leading to a more accepting world.”

The 2023 Fall Fashionistas dolls, including the Barbie doll with Down syndrome, are available in limited quantities online and in participating retailers. 

Top photo: screen grab from Ellie Goldstein’s instagram 

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