Sunny Side of The Stream: Mattel Makes Barbie With Down Syndrome

By Aliya Kuykendall Published on April 29, 2023

Mattel released its first-ever Barbie doll with Down syndrome on Tuesday. The limited number of dolls available has sold out, and they won’t be available in stores till the summer or fall, Reviewed reported.

The Doll’s Design

Mattel partnered with the National Down Syndrome Society in the creation of the doll. This Barbie has physical features typical of a person with Down Syndrome. Additionally, the doll’s dress features butterflies and the colors blue and yellow, which are used as symbols of Down syndrome.

Her necklace has a pendant with three arrows, which are a symbol of upward movement and the three copies of the 21st chromosome. (Down syndrome is caused by an extra, i.e. third, copy of the 21st chromosome.) She’s also wearing ankle foot orthoses (AFOs), which some kids with the syndrome use.

Why It Matters: People With Down Syndrome Face Eugenics

Conservatives like Lila Rose, Kristan Hawkins and Matt Walsh praised Mattel’s move to make this Barbie doll, citing discrimination and the high rate of abortion of preborn babies with Down syndrome, especially in European nations like Denmark: 98%. Iceland has nearly eradicated Down syndrome, meaning they’ve nearly killed all people with Down syndrome before they could be born. That’s sad for Iceland, because as the butterflies on Barbie’s dress remind us, people with Down syndrome bring change, beauty and joy to the lives of those who care for them.

People with Down syndrome “are the victims of an actual eugenics campaign. This is one case where ‘inclusion and representation’ actually is important,” Walsh posted on Twitter.

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The Stream’s Tom Sileo has shared his own transformation from fear to joy as he’s turned into a champion of his daughter and the worth of people with Down syndrome. See Tom Sileo’s stories about his daughter here.

Other Doll Options

While Barbie’s new doll is currently only available through secondhand retailers, a number of other dolls with Down syndrome exist. Reviewed lists several here. Most of these are baby dolls, with only one older fashion doll like Barbie, whose Down syndrome features are perhaps more subtle.

I came across one other fashion doll option similar to Barbie. It’s made by a seller on Etsy who writes in the description that she buys Bratz dolls secondhand, removes the paint, paints new faces on them and customizes them. The end result is pretty cute. See here.

Making Sure “They Feel Included and Loved and Protected”

This powerful video from a couple years ago shows a two-year-old girl with Down syndrome, Olive Mohlman, opening her birthday present: a baby doll with Down syndrome.

The girl’s mom, Kimberly, comments at the end of the video that she wants to let people know that the lives of people with Down syndrome “are important, that they matter, and that we should fight … for them, and to make sure that they feel included and loved and protected.”


Aliya Kuykendall is a staff writer and proofreader for The Stream. You can follow Aliya on Twitter @AliyaKuykendall and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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