Breaking Down Barriers: Mattel’s New Barbie Doll with Down Syndrome
The Story Behind Barbie: Inspiring Generations and Promoting Inclusivity
When I was a young girl, I remember receiving my very first Barbie doll. It was a gift from my grandmother, and I was absolutely thrilled. The doll was a fashion icon, with her long blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and stylish clothing. I loved playing dress-up with her and imagining all of the adventures we could go on together.
But what I didn’t know at the time was the incredible story behind Barbie’s creation. American businesswoman Ruth Handler had traveled to Germany and discovered a doll called Bild Lilli. She was struck by the doll’s unique features and saw an opportunity to create something new and exciting for young girls everywhere. And so, Barbie was born.
Barbie and Her Impact on Young Girls Everywhere”
Since her debut in March 1959, Barbie has become a beloved cultural icon, inspiring generations of young girls to dream big and embrace their own unique style. And now, with the introduction of more inclusive and diverse dolls, Barbie is helping to break down barriers and promote acceptance and representation for all. It’s amazing to see how one toy can have such a powerful impact on so many lives.
Mattel Launches Barbie Doll with Down Syndrome
Toy company Mattel has revealed its first-ever Barbie doll representing a person with Down’s syndrome. The move is part of the company’s bid to make its famous doll range more inclusive, diverse, and representative. Mattel crafted the new doll with National Down Syndrome Society in the United States, ensuring the doll accurately represents a person with Down’s syndrome. The doll has a shorter frame and longer torso than its other Barbies. Its face is a rounder shape, and it has almond-shaped eyes, smaller ears, and a flat nasal bridge. The doll’s palms even include a single line, a characteristic often associated with those with Down’s syndrome.
The new doll’s dress is a puff-sleeved frock adorned with butterflies and flowers in yellow and blue, colors associated with Down’s syndrome awareness. The doll wears a pink necklace with three upward chevrons representing the three copies of the 21st chromosome and pink ankle foot orthotics. Mattel stated that its goal is to enable all children to see themselves in Barbie while also encouraging them to play with dolls that do not look like themselves.
Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls at Mattel, said in a statement, “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.” Kandi Pickard, NDSS President and CEO, 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. It is a huge step forward for inclusion and a moment that we are celebrating.”
The genetic condition, Down’s syndrome, affects cognitive ability, causing mild to severe learning disabilities and distinctive facial characteristics. This move is a significant step forward in promoting diversity and fighting the stigma around physical disabilities. For years after its 1959 debut, Barbie dolls continued to be light-skinned, white, slender, blonde, with a very narrow waist, ample bosom, and always teetering on impossibly high heels.
However, in 2016, as the doll’s sales softened, Mattel introduced more realistic depictions of Barbie, making the newer dolls more inclusive and diverse in their appearance. Barbie was reintroduced in four body types and seven skin tones, with 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. Barbie has also launched dolls with prosthetic limbs and in wheelchairs to promote diversity and inclusion.
The latest Barbie doll with Down’s syndrome has received praise from many netizens. A social media user wrote, “That’s very sweet of Mattel and Barbie,” while another user wrote, “It is nice they are trying to be inclusive.” This is a positive move towards promoting diversity, inclusion, and representation, and it shows how influential companies like Mattel can be in shaping young minds and changing societal norms.