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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Mattel introduces Barbie doll with Down Syndrome, supported by Down Syndrome SA

The new Barbie dolls with Down Syndrome were introduced on Friday, which marked National Down Syndrome Day.

Toymaker Mattel’s newest addition to its range of inspirational dolls is a Barbie doll with Down syndrome – created to allow even more children to see themselves in Barbie, as well as have Barbie reflect the world around them.

The new Barbie doll toy retailing for R279.00 was introduced on Friday which marked National Down Syndrome Day.


Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls said the Barbie doll with Down syndrome was meant to inspire all children to tell more stories through play. 

“Barbie plays an important role in a child’s early experiences, and we are dedicated to doing our part to counter social stigma through play. Doll play outside of a child’s own lived experience can teach understanding and build a greater sense of empathy, leading to a more accepting world.”

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Ancella Ramjas, National Executive Director at Down Syndrome South Africa (DSSA) said the launch of the Barbie doll with Down syndrome was a powerful symbol of inclusivity and representation.

“As an organisation working with persons with Down Syndrome and their families, this presents a unique opportunity to work with Barbie SA to educate, empower and promote acceptance towards a more inclusive world, where everyone’s uniqueness is celebrated.”

To ensure the doll accurately represents a person with Down Syndrome, Barbie worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS).

Down Syndrome

The NDSS empowers individuals with Down Syndrome and their families by providing resources, driving policy change, engaging with local communities. NDSS’s guidance and real-world experiences informed the design process from start to finish, including the doll’s sculpt, clothing, accessories, and packaging.

In the past, Barbie has introduced dolls with vitiligo, some that use a wheelchair or a prosthetic limb, a doll with hearing aids and other dolls without hair.

This year, Barbie is continuing to represent global belonging and inclusivity with the full 2023 Fashionistas lineup, which includes new dolls in a variety of body types including a new Fashionista doll wearing braces and a Ken Fashionista doll with a prosthetic leg.

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