Mattel is bringing more diversity and inclusion into the toy aisle this year as it plans to launch the first Barbie doll with Down syndrome, expanding the iconic brand to encompass people with intellectual disabilities.
The toyco partnered with the National Down Syndrome Society in New York to ensure the doll’s sculpt, clothes and accessories authentically represent people within the community. Based on the organization’s input, the Barbie features a shorter frame and longer torso, slightly slanted almond-shaped eyes, pink ankle foot orthotics and a pink pendant necklace with three upward chevrons (representing the three copies of the 21st chromosome).
The new Barbie will roll out to retailers worldwide throughout summer and fall as part of Mattel’s 2023 Fashionistas range, which will also feature a new doll wearing braces and a Black Ken with a prosthetic leg. To help promote the doll’s launch in the UK, the toyco has collaborated with 21-year-old British fashion model Ellie Goldstein (pictured) on a photoshoot and video campaign. She is the first model with Down syndrome to be featured in campaigns for Italian fashion company Gucci and German athletic brand Adidas.
Mattel launched its first wave of Fashionistas dolls in 2009, featuring Barbie and Ken in hundreds of trendy and sporty outfits. The range was evolved in 2019 with a more inclusive approach to race and diversity, and in the years since has expanded to include dolls with physical disabilities or mobility devices, hearing aids and a wider range of physical attributes, such as vitiligo.