Mattel’s first Barbie with Down’s syndrome celebrates inclusivity in their 64-year history British model, Ellie Goldstein photographed by Catherine Harbour (Mattel)

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Mattel, the toy company behind Barbie, is launching a doll with Down’s syndrome for the first time in its 64-year history. 

Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21, resulting in a total of 47 chromosomes instead of 46. While those with Down’s syndrome may experience some level of learning disability, each person’s experience is unique, and with supportive care, they can lead happy and healthy lives.

During the development of the newest member of the Barbie Fashionistas series, Mattel collaborated with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), according to a spokesperson. 

Mattel & Photographer Catherine Harbour

As a result, the doll has a shorter frame and longer torso, similar to the physique of women with Down’s syndrome. It also has smaller ears, a flatter nasal bridge, and almond-shaped eyes, along with a single line on its palms, which is a feature commonly associated with Down’s syndrome. Additionally, the doll wears pink ankle foot orthotics.

“Since its inception in 1959, Barbie has introduced more than 175+ looks with variety in skin tones, hair textures, body diversity and dolls reflecting people with disabilities. The line has featured dolls who use wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, hearing aids, dolls with vitiligo and a doll without hair.”

The Mattel spokesperson continued on to say,

“This is the first Barbie doll to be introduced with Down’s syndrome, expanding the Fashionistas line to include a person with an intellectual disability, enabling even more people to see themselves in Barbie.”

Ellie Goldstein, a British model with Down syndrome, is spearheading the campaign. She has made remarkable progress in the fashion industry, having been featured on her first Vogue cover and collaborated with top brands such as Nike, ASOS, Gucci Beauty, and Adidas. Upon hearing about the doll, Ellie shared that she felt ‘overwhelmed’ at first.

“I am so happy that there is a Barbie with Down’s syndrome,” she shared. “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.”

Mattel & Photographer Catherine Harbour

Speaking from the Down’s Syndrome Association, Carol Boys, Chief Executive, said:

“As the only charity in the UK supporting all aspects of Down’s syndrome, we often hear from families who feel their children are not represented enough in the mainstream media. We therefore welcome the fact that children in our community will be able to play with a doll that represents them and their lives. We look forward to seeing her on the shelves alongside Barbies who wear hearing aids, use wheelchairs, and celebrate inclusion.”

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