A long time coming - Barbie unveil first doll with Down's syndrome

British model Ellie Goldstein debuted the newest addition to the Barbie family

Model Ellie Goldstein holding Barbie's new doll with Down Syndrome
(Image credit: Mattel/Barbie)

Barbie have unveiled their first doll with Down's syndrome - their latest addition to their new inclusive Fashionistas line.

2023 is a big year for fans of the famous doll, thanks to the release of the much anticipated Barbie movie - which has left parents asking if the Barbie movie is for kids. But there's even more for fans to look forward to this May, thanks to the launch of their first ever Barbie doll with Down's syndrome.

The cult brand worked with America's National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) on the new doll to create an accurate representation of women with Down's syndrome. The doll features a rounder shaped face, smaller ears and a flat nasal bridge with almond shaped eyes. Whilst the doll's palms include a single line - a characteristic often associated with those with Down’s syndrome.

Barbie have additionally weaved in thoughtful clothing and fashion accessory choices that champion the Down's syndrome community. The doll's pink pendant necklace has three upward chevrons to represent the 21st chromosome (the genetic material that causes the characteristics associated with the condition). These chevrons are synonymous with 'The Lucky Few' symbol meant to represent the lucky few who have someone with Down’s syndrome in their lives.

The doll's floral dress additionally showcases butterflies and the yellow and blue colors that are symbols associated with Down's syndrome awareness. The new Barbie also has ankle foot orthotics (AFOs) in a matching pink hue, recognising those commonly worn by some children with Down's syndrome in America.

a split template showing Ellie Goldstein with the Barbie doll with Down's syndrome

(Image credit: Future/Barbie/Mattel)

British Model Ellie Goldstein - who is a Vogue UK cover star in May - fronts the new Barbie doll campaign. Ellie has made history in her own right, being the first model with Down's Syndrome to front fashion campaigns for Gucci Beauty and Adidas.

"Seeing the doll, I felt so overwhelmed - it meant a lot to me and I’m so honoured and proud that Barbie chose me to show the doll to the world," she said. "Diversity is important to me as people need to see more people like me out there in the world and not be hidden away."

The new doll with Down Syndrome follows the recent release of other dolls that focus on disability representation and diversity inclusion. Last May, Mattel launched a Ken doll with vitiligo, a condition where skin loses pigmentation. Then in August 2022, Strictly Come Dancing star Rose Ayling-Ellis unveiled the first Barbie with hearing aids.

"As the most diverse doll line on the market, 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," said Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel. 

"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," she adds. "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."

Barbie's doll with Down's syndrome is available to buy from Smyths toystore from May 3, 2023, retailing at £13.99 each.

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Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.