Mattel Inc., the maker of Barbie dolls, has introduced its first-ever version of the popular toy representing a person with Down syndrome, as part of its efforts to increase diversity and inclusivity in its products.
The new doll is part of Mattel’s 2023 Fashionistas line, which features dolls with different skin tones, hair textures, body sizes and disabilities. The company collaborated with the National Down Syndrome Society, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights and opportunities of people with Down syndrome, to create the doll and ensure its accuracy.
“This Barbie serves as a reminder that we should never underestimate the power of representation and the importance of celebrating the uniqueness of all people,” said Ashley Helsing, director of government relations at the National Down Syndrome Society.Embed from Getty Images
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that occurs when an individual has an extra copy of chromosome 21. It affects physical and mental development and can cause various health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in every 700 babies in the U.S. is born with Down syndrome.
Mattel said it hopes the new doll will help raise awareness and acceptance of people with Down syndrome and inspire children to embrace their differences. The company also said it plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the doll to the National Down Syndrome Society.Embed from Getty Images
The Barbie Fashionistas line, which began in 1959, has seen more than 175 different looks over the years. Previous dolls that have been introduced to the line include a Ken doll with a prosthetic leg, a Barbie with hearing aids and dolls with a skin condition called vitiligo.
Mattel has been trying to revamp its image and appeal to a broader audience amid declining sales and changing consumer preferences. The company has also launched other initiatives such as Barbie Dream Gap Project, which aims to empower girls to pursue their dreams and overcome gender stereotypes.
The new Barbie doll with Down syndrome will be available online and in stores later this year.Embed from Getty Images