American toy makers Mattel announced the introduction of its first Barbie Doll with Down syndrome in a bid to increase representation in toys.
The aim of this move was to “allow even more children to see themselves in Barbie, as well as have Barbie reflect the world around them,” a statement released on Apr. 25 said.
The Barbie doll with Down syndrome is meant to inspire all children to tell more stories through play, the statement added.
Mattel said they worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to make informed design decisions, which included the doll’s sculpt, clothing, accessories and packaging, with the intention of fostering a better connection with individuals with Down syndrome.
Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls at Mattel, emphasised the importance of encouraging children to play with dolls who do not look like themselves.
“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,” McKnight said.
Change in design
Mattel said the doll’s body sculpt reflects a shorter frame and a longer torso.
The doll’s face also feature a rounder shape, smaller ears, a flat nasal bridge and slightly slanted almond-shaped eyes to be more illustrative of women with Down syndrome.
The doll’s palms include a single line, which is a characteristic often associated with those with Down syndrome.
As for the doll’s clothes, the puff sleeved dress patterns features butterflies and the colours yellow and blue, which are symbols and colours associated with Down syndrome awareness.
The doll’s pink pendant necklace with three upward chevrons represents the three copies of the 21st chromosome, which is the genetic material that causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
The Barbie Fashionista doll with Down syndrome wears pink ankle foot orthotics, which is meant to represent children with Down syndrome who wear orthotics to support their feet and ankles.
Top photo via Mattel
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