Barbie® Introduces Its First Doll with Down Syndrome, Further Increasing Representation in the Toy Aisle

by Media Xpose

Released as part of this year’s global Barbie Fashionistas lineup to allow even more children to find a Barbie doll that represents them

Mattel, Inc. today announced the addition of a Barbie doll with Down syndrome, created to allow even more children to see themselves in Barbie, as well as have Barbie reflect the world around them. The Barbie doll with Down syndrome is meant to inspire all children to tell more stories through play.

“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. 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. We are proud to introduce a Barbie doll with Down syndrome to better reflect the world around us and further our commitment to celebrating inclusion through play.”

To ensure the doll accurately represents a person with Down syndrome, Barbie worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). NDSS empowers individuals with Down syndrome and their families by providing resources, driving policy change, engaging with local communities. NDSS’s guidance and real-world experiences informed the design process from start to finish, including the dolls sculpt, clothing, accessories, and packaging. The close partnership ensured the Barbie team celebrated individuals with Down syndrome through a doll that would immediately connect with the community.

“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.”

To celebrate the launch of the doll and to advocate for inclusion, visibility and understanding of people with Down syndrome, European ambassadors have joined Barbie to celebrate this important moment for the community. These include; Ellie Goldstein, Model (UK)1, Éléonore Laloux, City Counsellor & Author (France)2 and Enya, Model & Influencer (Netherlands)3 who have been captured in celebratory images and video, as they see the doll that represents them for the first time. The trio shared what this means for them and children just like them across the world.

Enya, from Netherlands said “As a child Barbie was a huge part of mine and my sister’s childhood, so the fact that there is now a Barbie that looks like me and that I can identify with is indescribable. It is so important that children become more aware about diversity and inclusion from a young age, showing there is not one ideal image. That you, I, and everyone, can be included, we are all beautiful, and that Down syndrome is a part of us, society, and the world.”

Ellie Goldstein, from the UK said “I am so happy that there is a Barbie with Down’s syndrome. Seeing the doll, I felt so overwhelmed – it meant a lot to me and I’m so honoured 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.”

Counseled by NDSS, Barbie was purposeful with every design choice for the doll, including:

  • Sculpt: This doll introduces a new face and body sculpt to be more illustrative of women with Down syndrome, including a shorter frame and a longer torso. The new face sculpt features a rounder shape, smaller ears, and a flat nasal bridge, while the eyes are slightly slanted in an almond shape. The doll’s palms even include a single line, a characteristic often associated with those with Down syndrome.4
  • Fashion & Accessories: The doll’s puff sleeved dress pattern features butterflies and yellow and blue colors, which are symbols and colors 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 three chevrons, or arrows, are a symbol that unites the Down syndrome community and are meant to represent “the lucky few” who have someone with Down syndrome in their life.
  • Orthotics: The Barbie Fashionista doll with Down syndrome also wears pink ankle foot orthotics (AFOs) to match her outfit and her sneakers tout a zipper detail. Some children with Down syndrome use orthotics to support their feet and ankles, and NDSS provided a box of orthotics to serve as real-life inspiration for the ones this Barbie Fashionista is wearing, matched to her outfit and the bright colors in her design.

Children’s early experiences help shape their thoughts and perceptions – and Barbie can play an important role in this process. When a child plays with Barbie, they play out their dreams and imagine they can be anything. Doll play has an incredible purpose during key developmental stages as it may help set children on a course for success by allowing them to develop empathy – fueling social skills needed to excel as they imagine their futures with an equal playing field5. The Barbie doll with Down syndrome allows more children to see themselves in Barbie as well as 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. Barbie has introduced dolls with vitiligo, dolls that use a wheelchair or a prosthetic limb, a doll with hearing aids and a doll without hair. This year, Barbie is continuing to represent global belonging and inclusivity with the full 2023 Fashionistas lineup, which also includes new dolls in a variety of body types including a new Fashionista doll wearing braces and a Ken Fashionista doll with a prosthetic leg.

Notes to Editor

  • 1Ellie Goldstein, British Model Bio 21-year-old model Ellie is one of fashions rising stars and the UK’s most prominent model with Down syndrome. Ellie advocates for a broader view of beauty across the fashion industry, making history as the first model with Down syndrome to feature in major international campaigns for brands like Gucci Beauty and Adidas, and is named one of the Business of Fashions 500 people shaping the global fashion industry.
  • 2Éléonore Laloux, French City Counsellor & Author Bio 38-year-oldÉléonore Laloux is a French woman with Down syndrome and the assistant secretary of the Down Up association. The Down Up association works for the autonomy of life of people with disabilities and their inclusion in society. In March 2020, Éléonore Laloux became a municipal advisor to the mayor of the Arras, Frédéric Leturque and oversees Inclusive Transition and Happiness, making her the first person with Down syndrome in France to work in office.  Distinguished as a Knight of the order of Merit, Éléonore has embraced her position to pursue a career in politics working towards better inclusion and helping people just like her. Éléonore is now also a published author, with her book “Triso et alors!”, which aims to bring more awareness and understanding of people with Down syndrome.  
  • 3Enya, Model & Influencer Bio Enya is a 26 year old model and influencer living in the Netherlands, who along with her sister Celine, shares her life and experiences with Down syndrome on her Instagram account @Downsydrome_Queen. With her page she hopes to open up the world of modelling and beauty to be more diverse and inclusive, removing stigmas around people with Down syndrome, showing the full lives they lead. From sharing her love of dancing and being creative in front of the camera, she has built a broad community of people who are inspired by her journey and message of continued diversity and inclusion in society.

4The Barbie doll with Down syndrome’s physical features were reviewed by a medical professional.

5Exploring the Benefits of Doll Play through Neuroscience, commissioned by Barbie in partnership with Cardiff University

About Mattel

Mattel is a leading global toy company and owner of one of the strongest catalogs of children’s and family entertainment franchises in the world. We create innovative products and experiences that inspire, entertain, and develop children through play. We engage consumers through our portfolio of iconic brands, including Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, Fisher-Price®, American Girl®, Thomas & Friends®, UNO®, Masters of the Universe®, Monster High® and MEGA®, as well as other popular intellectual properties that we own or license in partnership with global entertainment companies. Our offerings include film and television content, gaming and digital experiences, music, and live events. We operate in 35 locations and our products are available in more than 150 countries in collaboration with the world’s leading retail and ecommerce companies. Since its founding in 1945, Mattel is proud to be a trusted partner in empowering children to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential. Visit us online at

About NDSS  

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome. NDSS empowers individuals with Down syndrome and their families by providing resources, driving policy change, engaging with local communities, and shaping public perceptions.  Founded in 1979, NDSS supports and advocates for the Down syndrome community by focusing on three key areas of programming: Resources & Support, Policy & Advocacy and Community Engagement. Within these focus areas NDSS engages in various activities, events and programs on topics that are critical to our community such as federal and state advocacy and public policy, health and wellness, education and employment. NDSS creates resources to support individuals with Down syndrome, their families and caregivers across the lifespan and hosts community events throughout the country including the National Buddy Walk® Program, the Times Square Video presentation and New York City Buddy Walk®, Racing for 3.21 for World Down Syndrome Day, Run for 3.21, and various other events.

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