Mattel defying gender norms with new dolls
The toy aisle is catching up to the idea that not all kids want to play within the pink and blue boundaries of gender-specific playthings.
On Wednesday, Mattel launched its first line of what it calls “gender inclusive dolls,” in which the figures in both form and fashion are not coded as stereotypically male or female. The dolls come with a kit that includes wigs with long and short hairstyles and clothing options like skirts, jeans, leggings and denim jackets.
The dolls in Mattel’s new “Creatable World” line also come in different skin tones.
“Toys are a reflection of culture and as the world continues to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, we felt it was time to create a doll line free of labels,” Kim Culmone, senior vice president of Mattel fashion doll design said in a statement Wednesday. “Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all kids to express themselves freely, which is why it resonates so strongly with them.”
The dolls are a departure from some of Mattel’s bestknown creations, such as Barbie, which in the past few decades has been criticized for idealizing a narrow view of femininity and promoting unrealistic beauty standards. Even with tweaks, like a more typical body shape and the promotion of STEM-related careers, some of the most popular toys marketed to grade-school-age children were either adults or babies.
The Creatable World dolls, meanwhile, more closely resemble their preadolescent target market: no makeup, facial hair, bosoms or broad shoulders.
In 2015, Target said it would end labeling toys and bedding as specifically “girl” or “boy.” Two years later, Amazon removed “boys” and “girls” from its toy search categories.
Creatable World dolls are “gender inclusive,” where form and fashion are not stereotypically male or female.