US toy manufacturer Mattel unveiled a new Barbie doll Tuesday representing a person with Down syndrome, as it seeks to allow more children to see themselves in the popular figure.
The toy was brought to market through work with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), to ensure it accurately represents someone with the condition, the company said.
“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 and dolls at Mattel.
The new doll has a face and body sculpt aimed at being “more illustrative of women with Down syndrome, including a shorter frame and a longer torso,” said Mattel.
For example, the face sculpt has a rounder shape, smaller ears and a flat nasal bridge. The eyes are slightly slanted as well in an almond shape.
Meanwhile, the doll’s dress pattern includes butterflies along with yellow and blue colours — symbols associated with Down syndrome awareness.
“This Barbie serves as a reminder that we should never underestimate the power of representation,” said NDSS President Kandi Pickard. “It is a huge step forward for inclusion and a moment that we are celebrating.”
Down syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome, which changes how their body and brain develop.
Previously, Mattel rolled out a series of Barbie dolls dedicated to feminists or other inspirational icons.
Barbie has 175 looks, according to Mattel.
The latest doll’s release comes as a live-action film about Barbie is expected to hit the screens in July, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.