But not only their physical characteristics represent people with Down syndrome. Even the dress – after all, Barbie is a “fashion doll” – has an empowering message: the butterfly and flower print is in yellow and blue, which are the awareness colors for Down syndrome. Barbie doll also wears orthopedic leg braces for muscular support – in Barbie pink, of course.
National Down Syndrome Society President Kandi Pickard reported that she was “honored to work with Barbie on the Barbie doll with Down Syndrome.” “This is a big step forward for inclusion and a moment we celebrate,” added the President.
Model and activist Ellie Goldstein is one of the new Barbie ambassadors
In addition, there are already initial reactions from the community. Ellie Goldstein, a model, activist and now a Barbie ambassador, has been a champion of diversity in the fashion and modeling industries for years and shared a powerful message with her followers on Instagram: “When I saw the doll, I was so emotional (…). It means a lot to me that children can play with the doll and learn that everyone is different. I’m proud that Barbie chose me to share the dolls with the world.”
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More representation for people with Down syndrome is overdue – internationally and locally
A representation that is incredibly important both internationally and locally in Germany, because as the pediatrician Thomas Hoppen wrote in his specialist article “Inventory a good 150 years after the first description” in 2021: “Down syndrome (DS ) occurs in about 1 in 800 births. An estimated 50,000 people live with trisomy 21 in Germany and over 200,000 in the USA.” And yet many know very little about this chromosome variant, in which the cells of those affected contain three chromosomes of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two. Since the genetic “information” of a person is “encoded” on the chromosomes, their mental and physical development proceeds differently than in people without the third chromosome 21.
Actress Luisa Wöllisch has been campaigning for more visibility for people with Down syndrome for years
The Munich actress Luisa Wöllisch is committed to more representation in the film and theater landscape so that, as she said in the SWR night café, people can see that people with any limitation “belong on the screen just like everyone else ”. The hope: If there is enough representation, stereotypes can be broken down and open dealings can be implemented in real life. Because many people still find it difficult to communicate with people with disabilities on a day-to-day basis, Luisa Wöllisch continues.