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Barbie Strives For More Inclusivity As It Launches A Doll With Down Syndrome

This Barbie serves as a reminder that we should never underestimate the power of representation.
Barbie down syndrome
PHOTO: Instagram/Mattel
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Barbie is a classic doll that has long become a childhood staple of most people. Its renewed interest isn’t surprising as fans gear up to watch the upcoming Greta Gerwig’s Barbie biopic starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.

Ahead of the film’s release though, toy company Mattel—which owns Barbie—kicks off with a renewed push for more diverse and inclusive offerings, releasing its first-ever version of the Barbie doll representing a person with Down syndrome.

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The new doll is part of Mattel Barbie Fashionistas line, which aims to offer kids more diverse representations of beauty and fight the stigma around physical disabilities.

ICYDK, previous Barbie Fashionistas have included a doll with a prosthetic leg, one with hearing aids, another that comes with a wheelchair and a doll with the skin condition vitiligo, which causes patches of skin to lose their pigment.

For the newest Barbie Fashionista, Mattel closely worked with the National Down Syndrome Society on the doll’s shape, features, clothing, accessory and packaging to ensure that it accurately represents a person with Down syndrome.

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“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.”

Early childhood experiences, including playing with toys, contribute to children's cognitive, motor, psychosocial, emotional, and linguistic skills—not to mention their key role in raising them to be confident, creative, and happy. Barbie’s latest iteration with Down syndrome allows more children to see themselves in Barbie and the world around them, which can help foster a sense of inclusivity.

Barbie is the most inclusive doll line on the market–with over 175 looks offering a variety of eye colors, hair colors and textures, body types, disabilities and fashions to tell more stories.

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