Mattel, the US toy giant, has released a new Barbie doll with Down’s syndrome in an effort to make its range more diverse. The company has previously faced criticism for the traditional Barbie’s unrealistic body shape and lack of representation of real women. In recent years, Mattel has created dolls with a hearing aid, a prosthetic limb, and a wheelchair. The new doll was created in collaboration with the US National Down Syndrome Society to ensure accuracy in its representation of people with the genetic condition. It has a shorter frame, a longer torso, and a rounder face with almond-shaped eyes, smaller ears, and a flat nasal bridge, which are all common characteristics of women with Down’s syndrome.
The doll also wears pink ankle foot orthotics to match its outfit, as some children with Down’s syndrome use orthotics to support their feet and ankles. The pink pendant necklace has three upward chevrons representing the three copies of the 21st chromosome, the genetic material that causes the characteristics associated with Down’s syndrome. Mattel’s goal is for « all children to see themselves in Barbie » and « play with dolls who do not look like themselves ». The company hopes the new doll will help « teach understanding and build a greater sense of empathy, leading to a more accepting world. »
The release of the new Barbie doll with Down’s syndrome is a significant step forward for inclusion and representation in the toy industry. In recent years, there has been a growing demand for more diverse and inclusive toys that reflect the real world. Lego created its first young disabled mini-figure in 2016, following a campaign by the UK-based #ToyLikeMe group, which aimed to create more toys to represent the 770,000 disabled children in the UK. The new Barbie doll with Down’s syndrome is a positive step towards a more inclusive and accepting world.
Keywords: Mattel, Barbie, Down’s syndrome, diversity, representation, inclusion, toy industry, Lego, #ToyLikeMe.
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