A New Line of Gender-Neutral Dolls From Mattel Just Hit Stores

Because representation matters.
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By Ashley Edwards Walker, Contributing Writer
Updated September 27, 2019
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Image: Courtesy Mattel

In the past, Mattel, the maker of Barbie, has been criticized for promoting unrealistic standards with its dolls that can feel unattainable or exclusive. But in recent years, the toy company has made notable strides toward better representation, releasing a line of Barbies with different body types and others with disabilities that more accurately portray the real world that children are living in. Now, they’re taking that evolution one step further.

Earlier this week, Mattel launched Creatable World, its first-ever line of gender neutral dolls “designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in.”

“In our world, the dolls are as limitless as the kids who play with them,” the promotional video explains as a diverse group of kids flash across the screen. Some are wearing makeup, others single or pairs of earrings. Some have long hair, others short, while one kid is rocking a pleasing shade of purple. And their clothes are just as varied. From a pink tutu to a Pharrell-like hat paired with giant sunglasses, clearly these kids have style. And they want their dolls to have style too. It’s a long way from the original Barbie’s itty-bitty black and white one-piece.

Right now the website advertises six different “doll kits,” as they’re called, available in different skin tones. Each doll comes dressed in a simple tank top and shorts so your child has a blank canvas to start. Each kit also offers two wigs, for short and long hair options, plus six items of clothing, three pairs of shoes and two accessories, all of which are female- and male-presenting.

“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 Culmore, senior vice president of Mattel fashion doll design, told USA Today.

“@mattel, as a #nonbinary person and an educator, I just want to say thank you for this representation,” one person wrote in the Instagram comments section for the promo video. “I try so hard to bring a gender neutral presence everyday, and these dolls are just what kids need to see in the world! Especially my genderfluid students. Thank you so much for bringing this much needed representation.”

“I want to say thank you to all Mattel team because this is amazing,” another wrote. “You are the best toy company of all the times. Congratulations because this is something that all of us were waiting for.”

“I’m glad this generation of kids will have something like this to feel included,” someone else added. “A very much overdue idea! Thank you.”

“Most innovative toy idea of the year,” a fourth wrote.

The kits are already on sale in time for the holidays. Each is priced at $30 and available at Amazon and other retailers.

In recent years, there’s been a move away from gendered toys, with stores like Target and Amazon doing away with “boys” and “girls” toy shopping categories. This new line of gender neutral dolls is another step in the right direction. Research shows that children as young as 10 months are already observing and absorbing gender stereotypes, linking certain objects like scarves to women and hammers to to men. Curious how you can steer your kids away from gender stereotypes before they really take root? Read more here.

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