Toy company Mattel on Wednesday launched a new line of dolls that are “gender inclusive” because, you know, kids everywhere are demanding them.
Called “Creatable World,” the line allows children to interchange hair, clothes, and accessories on the dolls — meaning they can be both male and female.
“We see this line as an opportunity for us to open up that dialogue around what dolls are for and who dolls are for,” said Kim Culmone, senior vice president of Mattel Fashion Doll Design. “And also as the world begins the celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, we absolutely fundamentally believed it was time to launch a doll line free of labels and free of rules for kids.”
The company says the new line is in response to demand. “Kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms.”
Mattel consulted pediatricians on how to make the dolls gender-neutral — including pediatrician and author Cara Natterson.
Natterson praised Mattel, saying “A collection like this just knocks down every barrier to play,” the Daily Mail reported. “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.”
“We’re hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play,” she said.
The toy company said it worked alongside a “dedicated team of experts, parents, physicians, and most importantly, kids” to come up with six different kits with varying skin tones.
The doll kits sell for $29.99.
A child opens a box. He starts jumping and screaming with joy — not an unusual sound in the halls of Mattel’s headquarters where researchers test new toys. But this particular toy is a doll, and it’s rare for parents to bring boys into these research groups to play with dolls. It’s rarer still for a boy to immediately attach himself to one the way Shi’a just did.
An eight-year-old who considers himself gender fluid and whose favorite color is black one week, pink the next, Shi’a sometimes plays with his younger sister’s dolls at home, but they’re “girly, princess stuff,” he says dismissively. This doll, with its prepubescent body and childish features, looks more like him, right down to the wave of bleached blond bangs. “The hair is just like mine,” Shi’a says, swinging his head in tandem with the doll’s. Then he turns to the playmate in the toy-testing room, a seven-year-old girl named Jhase, and asks, “Should I put on the girl hair?” Shi’a fits a long, blond wig on the doll’s head, and suddenly it is no longer an avatar for him, but for his sister. …
Mattel’s first promotional spot for the $29.99 product features a series of kids who go by various pronouns — him, her, them, xem — and the slogan, “A doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in.” With this overt nod to trans and nonbinary identities, the company is betting on where it thinks the country is going, even if it means alienating a substantial portion of the population. A Pew Research survey conducted in 2017 showed that while 76% of the public supports parents’ steering girls to toys and activities traditionally associated with boys, only 64% endorse steering boys toward toys and activities associated with girls.