Mattel is genius for the way it built its new line of gender-neutral dolls
It is 2019, and more and more, parents are letting go of the idea that there are “girl toys” and “boy toys” in the world. All toys are for all kids. Kids should get to play with whatever the heck toys they want to and think are fun. And Mattel is embracing that in a big way with its new line of gender-neutral dolls that are made for all kids, not just girls.
The line dropped today and is available at Target and Walmart stores, as well as on Amazon. The dolls are designed specifically to just look like kids. There are no Barbie-style breasts or Ken-style pecs and abs. The dolls aren’t wearing makeup. Their eyelashes aren’t long and lush to make them look feminine. Their lips aren’t plumped. They just look like kids.
Mattel designed them to have interchangeable wigs and outfits, so you can make your doll look more masculine or feminine if that’s what you want. Or you can not. It’s entirely up to the kid who’s playing with the doll, who can also choose hair and clothes to make the doll look just like them, however that may be.
“In our world, dolls are as limitless as the kids who play with them,” Mattel wrote on its website for the doll line’s launch. “Introducing Creatable World, a doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in—giving kids the freedom to create their own customizable characters again and again.”
Each $29.99 kit includes more than 100 possible looks that can be created by switching out wigs and outfits. Mattel says the dolls are a “blank canvas” that kids can use to create whoever they want to play with, whether they’re modeling their dolls after themselves, a friend, a parent, or someone else. The dolls can be boys, girls, neither, or both. They reflect the world kids actually live in now, and that’s truly a beautiful thing. It allows kids to pretend and play outside of the limitations that are typically imposed on them by society. And it gives kids who are trans, nonbinary, or gender-fluid a doll that can look like them. Representation saves lives, and Mattel is allowing a lot more kids to see themselves in their toys now, with Creatable World.
Sure, the dolls will draw criticism. There is still a pretty significant subset of the population that believes it’s wrong to allow kids to express their gender the way they want to, and not how traditional roles have told them they should. But that makes what Mattel is doing even braver. They risk losing customers, but give a lot more kids toys that will shape their lives in a meaningful way.
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