Mattel Introduces Gender-Neutral Dolls

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Mattel Introduces Gender-Neutral Dolls

Emily Chen, Staff Writer

Mattel, which is best known for creating Barbie dolls, introduced a line of gender-neutral dolls called “Creatable World” on Sept. 25. The dolls can be customized to reflect any gender. The company’s goal was to create a doll “designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in.”

The company has released six different Creatable World dolls, each with a different skin tone. The dolls resemble pre-teens and do not have masculine or feminine features. Every doll comes with a variety of clothing options, such as pants, skirts, t-shirts, button-downs, jackets, overalls, sneakers, boots, and heels. The dolls have short hair and come with a wig with longer hair.

The dolls are a push against gender stereotypes in the toy industry. Toys have long been labeled “boys” or “girls.” Many retailers have removed these labels in recent years, but are still creating toys targeted towards each gender. The Creatable World dolls break this mold. They are not targeted specifically toward boys or girls; they are targeted toward children who want to express themselves. Promotional images for the toy line feature the slogans “#AllWelcome” and “Toys Are For Kids.”

Kim Culmone, the senior Vice President of Mattel fashion dolls, said, “This line allows all kids to express themselves freely, which is why it resonates so strongly with them.” In contrast to Mattel’s Barbie dolls, which have been criticized for lacking diversity and portraying the female body unrealistically, the Creatable World dolls put an emphasis on creativity and customization.

Mattel tested the dolls with 250 families from 7 different states. The dolls have received mixed reactions from parents. While some parents welcomed the idea of a gender-neutral doll that any child could play with, others spoke against the concept, claiming that it “feels political,” is too confusing, or is not suitable for children.

However, children who have gotten a chance to play with the dolls have embraced the concept. According to Monica Dreger, Mattel’s vice president of global consumer insights, the research team “never talked to a kid who didn’t flip from joy when they saw the doll.” Dreger stated that many children, including those who are transgender or gender non-conforming, said that they could see themselves in the dolls. Others said that the dolls reminded them of their friends. Dreger added that the doll was seen as “relatable and self-expressive.”

The Creatable World dolls are not Mattel’s first move towards inclusivity. The company has also released Barbie and Ken dolls with different skin tones over recent years, as well as dolls with different body types. Mattel is “hopeful [that] Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play.”

Photo courtesy of TEENVOGUE.COM