Image of an Asian girl in a jean jacket smiling as she plays with her new Barbie Down Syndrome Doll


Project: Barbie Doll with Down Syndrome

Broadening representation in play 

In 2023, Barbie wanted to further broaden their Fashionistas line and launch its first doll with Down syndrome. Their goal was to allow even more children to see themselves in Barbie, as well as have Barbie reflect the world around them.

Group photo of the Fashionista line, including the new Barbie Down Syndrome Doll

01The challenge

Unlike other existing Down syndrome dolls on the market that primarily represent nurturing baby dolls with Down syndrome, Barbie aimed to break barriers by introducing an adult-form doll. Consequently, the launch presented various design challenges to ensure Barbie was accurately reflecting those with Down syndrome, and to guarantee the doll was embraced and celebrated.

02The solution

Barbie joined forces with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to ensure that every design choice of the doll represented and resonated with the Down syndrome community. Using counsel from the NDSS, Barbie developed clothing, accessories, orthotics, and a new face and body sculpt that were more accurate to physical characteristics of many people with Down syndrome.

Inclusivity in the national spotlight


To break the news nationwide, Weber Shandwick secured and facilitated a broadcast exclusive on the 3rd hour of Good Morning America for the announcement, featuring interviews from NDSS spokespeople while several families within the NDSS community played with the dolls on set. Additional interviews in top-tier outlets included Mattel spokespeople shedding light on the creation of the Fashionistas collection and Barbie’s commitment to showcasing a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion.

03The impact

A new highlight for the Fashionistas line

Due to successful targeted outreach, the 2023 Fashionistas line was Barbie’s most successful Fashionistas launch to-date and the highest reaching Mattel launch of the full calendar year, earning 1 billion earned media impressions in less than 24 hours. Just one week after the launch, the doll was in standalone features in lifestyle, multicultural, parenting, entertainment and fashion/beauty outlets.

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