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'People like me as a doll is so cool': MN families react to first Barbie doll with Down syndrome

Mattel worked hand-in-hand with the National Down Syndrome Society to develop the doll, with a stature and facial sculpt similar to a person with Down syndrome.

MINNEAPOLIS — If there's one thing 7-and-a-half-year-old Zoe Krekelberg has lots of, it's Barbie dolls. She's got all kinds of models of the doll—from Disney Princess Elsa Barbie to a light-up mermaid one to one she named "Becky" who wears fancy gold pants.

All in all, when you ask Zoe how many Barbie dolls she has, she confidently asserts, "Over a thousand."

Now she has one thousand and one. After shipping a doll to KARE 11 to give to Zoe, she now has the first Barbie doll modeled after a woman with Down syndrome.

"This is my favorite doll," Zoe said, after receiving it.

The Barbie, part of Mattel's "Barbie Fashionistas" line, has a frame and facial sculpt that is more common among people with Down syndrome. The company worked hand-in-hand with the National Down Syndrome Society to develop the doll.

According to a release from Mattel, "This doll introduces a new face and body sculpt to be more illustrative of women with Down syndrome, including a shorter frame and a longer torso. The new face sculpt features a rounder shape, smaller ears, and a flat nasal bridge, while the eyes are slightly slanted in an almond shape. The doll’s palms even include a single line, a characteristic often associated with those with Down syndrome."

Mikayla Holmgren, 28, is the reigning Miss Stillwater USA, and the first person with Down syndrome to compete for a title in a Miss USA state pageant. As a pageant queen and global ambassador for Best Buddies International, she's a firm believer in representation, and sees this doll as another way to educate others about people with intellectual disabilities.

"People like me as a doll is so cool," Holmgren said. "It's beautiful, confident, and it brings a smile."

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