About two months ago, Mattel’s Barbie launched a line of dolls that were all about inclusivity. It showcases women of different colours, body types and disabilities. Barbie’s Fashionista line, that launches this year, has barbie dolls on wheel-chairs, and with prosthetic legs. That’s one more step towards mainstreaming the disabled into society.
Read more about Barbie’s line: Barbie and Sims 4 take on a new update for Inclusivity!!
But what is this now? Mattel has launched doll’s that screams everything ‘gender-inclusive’. While this is different from their famous Barbie dolls, their latest launch is believed to be the first of its kind in the world of dolls and toys.
Mattel’s “Creatable World” dolls
Mattel’s latest launch is called “Creatable World” dolls. Interesting name for an interesting line. According to Mattel’s page the idea behind this launch is to make “Doll play more inclusive”. Their website reads,
“In our world, dolls are as limitless as the kids who play with them. 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.”
-Extract from Mattel’s Website
Hence, within the “Creatable World” line, children have the freedom to customise the dolls, whether it is short or long hair, dresses or trouser, and different accessories.
What sets this line apart, from it’s famous Barbie counterpart, is the design of the doll itself. Unlike Barbie, the new range does not have overly (and sometimes unrealistic) feminine features of the face or figure. Defined jawlines and tiny waists are not part of the Creatable World line.
Instead, the collection carries 6 different dolls, each with a different skin tone. Each doll also comes with 2 hairstyle options. Additionally, they also carry different outfit options. So, it’s up to you on how you want your doll to look.
Every time, children can customise new characters with over 100 possible combinations. Before launching the collection, the brand tested the dolls with 250 families in the United States. These families were from 7 different states and included 15 children who were trans or gender non-conforming.
Why the need for a ‘gender non-conforming’ line?
In a statement to the Insider, Kim Culmone, Senior VP of Mattel Fashion Doll Design said,
“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.”
Monica Dreger, Head of Consumer Insights at Mattel, told TIME Magazine,
“There were a couple of gender-creative kids who told us that they dreaded Christmas Day because they knew whatever they got under the Christmas tree, it wasn’t made for them.”
So the idea behind this collection is that “This is the first doll that you can find under the tree and see is for them because it can be for anyone”, said Dreger.
The new line is following a change in trend seen in recent years. Parents are these days complaining about the existence of gender segregation and stereotyping in toy aisles, and clothing for children. And hence, hopefully, Creatable World “will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play”, says Culmone.
Toy companies, including the 74-year-old Mattel, are adapting and changing their product lines to align themselves to the Gen-Z children and values. Newer released products are trying to represent Inclusivity and Diversity.
And so, unlike Barbie and GI Joe, dolls of “Creatable World” are a blank slate, encouraging children, irrespective of any gender, to play with them.
On Wednesday, GLAAD, the LGBT advocacy group, shared their thoughts on twitter about the brand’s gender non-conforming dolls. They tweeted, “So many children and parents never saw themselves represented in toys and dolls, but this new line raises the bar for inclusion thanks to input from parents, physicians, and children themselves”.
So many children and parents never saw themselves represented in toys and dolls, but this new line raises the bar for inclusion thanks to input from parents, physicians, and children themselves. https://t.co/AsZJUizzlb.
— GLAAD (@glaad) September 25, 2019
Looks like Mattel has won the hearts of some within the LGBTQ community. Let Toys Be Toys, a UK organisation, also commented on Mattel’s latest launch. Campaigner Megan Perryman, from the organisation, shared that since children can create dolls that resemble themselves, it is likely to be appealing to them. She wrote in her company blog that “This move by Mattel should not be underestimated”.
Mattel’s iconic Barbie for eons had dolls that portrayed overly feminised features. However, in recent years, they have stemmed out and released diverse dolls. These are dolls that portray different body types, STEM-inspired career choices, and even disability. However, gender-nonconformity in kids dolls is something new and different.
And so, Mattel’s move to release a completely new line dedicated to more inclusive toys is questioning the stereotyping that is seen in kids toys aisles. Children, irrespective of the gender they identify with, can play with these dolls.
Source Credit: CNET, Insider, Mattel, Pink News, The Guardian, Time Magazine