Introducing the Most Inclusive Fashion Doll Ever!

Children should be able to see themselves in the dolls they play with.

May 3, 2023
Introducing the Most Inclusive Fashion Doll Ever! | Children should be able to see themselves in the dolls they play with.

Every child wants a doll that looks like them. While Mattel, the makers of the iconic Barbie doll, has been making more inclusive dolls with hearing aids prosthetic limbs and even ones in wheelchairs, no fashion dolls have been designed for children with Down syndrome until now.

The new doll, part of the Fashionistas line, was created to allow more children to see themselves in the Barbie doll they play with, according to a press release from Mattel.

But even more importantly, encouraging children to doll play outside of their own lived experiences could lead to more empathy and help dispel the stigma of physical disabilities , explained Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel in the press release.

Designing the doll
To design a doll with Down syndrome accurately. Mattel worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), an organization that helps empower people with Down syndrome and their families. NDSS worked with the company to design the doll, clothing, and accessories.

The newest Fashionistas doll has a face and body sculpt that is associated with women with Down syndrome, reported CNN, and the doll’s design was reviewed by a medical professional for accuracy.

The doll is shorter and the face features the rounder shape, smaller ears, and slightly slanted eyes that is characteristic of the syndrome. The palms of the doll’s hands also include a single line.

Even the clothing is accurate, including pink ankle foot orthotics and the shoes feature a zipper, to be inclusive of the many children with down syndrome who wear orthotics to help support their ankles.

The dolls yellow and blue dress is decorated with butterflies, all symbols of Down syndrome awareness and the doll’s pink pendant with three upright chevrons represents the three copies of the 21 st chromosome that causes the characteristics of down syndrome that along with the physical appearances also includes cognitive and learning challenges.

Positive reactions
While Barbie has been criticized in the past for having unrealistic proportions and distorting body image in girls, reported NPR, the Fashionistas line first introduced in 2019, has set out to make more diverse dolls in more shapes and colors, sizes, and abilities. There are actually 175 different looks.

While the doll is available online no and will be rolled out in stores the summer of 2023, the reactions have been very positive.

Ellie Goldstein –– a British model with Down Syndrome – who is working with Mattel, described on Instagram how important it is to her to see a doll that reflects herself.

“When I saw the doll I felt so emotional, and proud. It means a lot to me that children will be able to play with the doll and learn that everyone is different. I am proud that Barbie chose me to show the dolls to the world,” she wrote. “Diversity is important as people need to see more people like me out there in the world and not be hidden away, Barbie will help make this happen.”

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.