The first Barbie doll representing a person with Down’s syndrome has been unveiled by toy company Mattel.
Mattel collaborated with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) in the US to create the Barbie and “ensure the doll accurately represents a person with Down syndrome,” the company said.
Design features of the new Barbie were made under guidance from NDSS.
In addition to portraying some physical characteristics of a person with Down’s syndrome, the Barbie’s clothing and accessories carry special meaning.
The blue and yellow on the doll’s dress, accompanied by butterflies, represent symbols and colours associated with Down’s syndrome awareness.
And the three chevrons on the Barbie’s necklace represent how people with Down’s syndrome have three copies of their 21st chromosome, Mattel said.
In addition, the Barbie wears ankle foot orthotics, which some children with Down’s syndrome use.
NDSS president and CEO Kandi Pickard said in a statement: “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.”
In the UK, around one in every 1,000 babies born will have Down’s syndrome – and there are approximately 47,000 people in the UK with the condition, according to the Down’s Syndrome Association.
Barbie’s new doll representing a person with Down’s syndrome is part of Mattel’s 2023 Fashionistas line, which is aimed at increasing diversity and inclusivity.
Previous dolls that have been introduced to the Fashionistas line include a Ken doll with a prosthetic leg, a Barbie with hearing aids and dolls with a skin condition called vitiligo.
“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,” said Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel.