Mattel’s New Barbie With Down Syndrome Sparks Debate Online

Mattel partnered with National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and created it's first Barbie with Down's syndrome

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Mattel’s New Barbie With Down Syndrome Sparks Debate Online
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Mattel, the company behind the famous Barbie and Ken dolls, has recently partnered with National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) in the US and created it's first Barbie with Down syndrome for its Barbie Fashionistas line.

As soon as the announcement was made, it triggered a debate on social media. With some people appreciating Mattel's efforts for making their toys more relatable and representative, others criticized their intentions - calling them performative.


This is not the first time that Mattel has come under a scanner as they often face criticism for promoting unhealthy beauty standards, and even misrepresenting different cultures.

On the other hand, Mattel claims that they have been trying to create toys that are more inclusive and diverse in terms of representation of different communities, and cultures, body types, disabilities.

In the past, Mattel introduced Indian-American dolls, Chinese American dolls, a doll wearing a hijab, and even gender-neutral dolls.

Lisa McKnight, the Executive Vice President of Mattel said, "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."

Lisa continued, "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.”

The doll, made in supervision of NDSS, has been carefully crafted and remodelled to represent someone with Down syndrome.

Besides the colours of her dress, blue and yellow, are the ones used to spread awareness about the condition. The barbie also wears ankle foot orthotics (AFOs) to support her legs and ankles since some children affected by the condition have to wear the orthotics as well.

The blue and yellow colours in the barbie's dress represent colours for Down syndrome awareness 

(Photo Courtesy: Mattel)

The Barbie Fashionista line also features a Barbie with a prosthetic leg, a Barbie who uses a wheelchair, and male dolls that are thinner and less muscular.


As soon as Mattel introduced their new barbie, netizens took to Twitter and expressed their opinions.

One user commented, "Inclusivity and representation should start from an early age. Mattel recently released barbie with down syndrome to help children feel represented"

A user wrote, "Brilliantly done by @Barbie! My late sister had Down's syndrome and I bough(t) her a Barbie and Ken for every birthday and Christmas well into her 40s. She would have loved this."

Another pointed out that the new doll appears tokenistic and doesn't accurately represent the children from the community. The user wrote, “A refined attempt by commercialism trying to appear ethical. I wonder if Barbies can ever truly be inclusive and diverse when they actually perpetrate hard to attain female body images. Body dysmorphia to be more precise.”

Here are other reactions:

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Topics:  Barbie   Disability   Mattel 

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