gender neutral

photo credit: Angie Smith for TIME via @TIME on Twitter

Mattel Launches Gender Neutral Doll Line

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Sep. 25 2019, Published 5:18 p.m. ET

Toy makers are striving to become more gender neutral. Part of that effort begins with Mattel’s newest doll line, “Creatable World.” The dolls come with several different gender neutral outfits and each of the characters have different preferred pronouns. The design of the toy is also nonbinary, each resembling the average 7-year-old kid with short hair. Kids also have the option to place wigs on the dolls to change up their look. Mattel’s chosen slogan explains it all: “A doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in.” 

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The toy company, who is also the creator of Barbie, has taken a huge leap forward for gender inclusivity. “Kids right now, especially gen. Alpha, which are kids under the age of 10, they see gender very differently. They experience gender very differently,” Jess Weiner, a cultural expert at Mattel, told Time. She continued, “We will challenge people’s points of view about how they think boys and girls should play.”

A switch for more gender neutral toys has been urged by many parents. Mattel revealed that while doing research, parents becoming concerned with the “genderizing” of toys and play has become a larger, more discussed issue. This is because kids have been more open to expressing their gender identity and do not want labels on their toys either. 

“The benefits of playing with dolls, interestingly, has not changed throughout the decades,” explained Lisa McKnight, the head of Barbie and Dolls portfolio at Mattel. “It’s always been about storytelling and imagination and self expression.” Those at Mattel believe that these assets shouldn’t be limited based upon gender. Kim Culmone, the head of design for Barbie and fashion dolls at Mattel, told Time, “it’s important that kids of all different types can see themselves reflected in culture and media and especially in the toys that they play with.” 

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The design of the dolls, and its clothing and accessories were all carefully selected with one goal in mind: inclusion. They have a variety of styles from skirts to joggers, tennis shoes to booties, and sports jerseys to t-shirts with a color pallet that is “welcoming to all.” 

“A lot of parents knew that this was the wave of the future. This is where society is heading and they wanna be onboard on it, they just don’t have the tools or the knowledge to kind of guide their child,” explained Mattel’s Head of Research Monica Dreger. “What we found is that most of the kids are guiding the conversation anyway.” 

“We know what happens when kids feel limitations or we place limitations on a child’s identity,” said Weiner. “I imagine that a lot of people are gonna be so delighted and relieved to have dolls they could present to their kids that look like them or could look like their friends or could open up more possibilities for their play… This conversation around gender and doll play – I don’t expect it to be easy, but I know it’s important.

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