Culture

Barbie Introduces Gender-Inclusive Line Of Dolls And Stan Twitter Is Here For It

We’ve all heard something or another about how Gen Z is changing the world. And one of the generation’s biggest fights is for a non-binary future. They’re leading the change in the way we think about gender. Young people are creating new vocabularies and taxonomies, and older generations are playing catch-up. 

Mattel, a 74 year old company is trying to stay up to date. The maker of hyper-feminine Barbie doll, has announced the launch of ‘Creatable World’ the first series of gender-fluid dolls. These toys differ from the classic gendered Barbie and Ken, in subtle yet significant ways. Children of any gender identification are welcome to play with them. The slogan reads, “A doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in”, a clear nod to trans and nonbinary identities, the company is betting on where it thinks the country is going.

All ‘Creatable World’ dolls look like a 7 year old with short hair, and each comes with a wig to switch up the look.

The doll can be either a boy, a girl, neither or both. Carefully designed, the gender-neutral doll has features that betray no gender. The eyelashes are not too long or fluttery, the jaw not too wide. It doesn’t have Barbie-like breasts or Ken-like broad shoulders. All of the ‘Creatable World’ series dolls look like a 7 year old with short hair, and each comes with a wig of long locks and a wardrobe fit for any fashion-conscious kid; hoodies, sneakers, t-shirts and tutus and camo pants. 

Kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms, Mattel wants kids to express themselves freely.

“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,” Mattel said in a statement. “Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all kids to express themselves freely.”

Younger generations are challenging the constraints and traditional meanings of gender and toy companies are actively repackaging their products to align with the shift in representation, inclusion and diversity that Gen-Z children are largely responsible for. 

Toy companies are trying, sometimes too hard: Hasbro and Mattel have been accused of attempting to profit off culture wars.

For years, consumers have pushed back against “pink aisles” and “blue aisles”, in the name of exposing children to whichever toy they may like regardless of their gender-identification; like girls playing with building blocks and boys with dolls. In 2015, Target eliminated gender specific sections, and Disney got rid of “girls” and “boys” labels from its children’s costumes, inviting anyone to dress as Captain America or a princess if they so choose to. Just this month, Hasbro released Ms Monopoly, where women players earn more than men. Mattel launched culturally diverse Barbies not long ago (Including “Día de los Muertos Barbie” which garnered them some accusations of cultural appropriation).

The response has not been completely positive. Hasbro and Mattel have been accused of attempting to profit off culture wars. 

The range of ‘Creatable Worlds’ has won the heart of some members or the LGBTQ community who are happy to see such inclusion.

Mattel’s gender neutral doll has won over some members of the LGBTQ community. “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,” the LGBT advocacy group Glaad wrote on Twitter.

The toy-makers however, have made it clear that they do not have a political stance; “We’re not in the business of politics,” Mattel’s president told Time Magazine, “and we respect the decision any parent makes around how they raise their kids. Our job is to stimulate imaginations. Our toys are ultimately canvases for cultural conversation, but it’s your conversation, not ours; your opinion, not ours.”

Earlier this year Mattel made another attempt at inclusivity launching a black Barbie doll in a wheelchair as part of their ‘Fashionista’ range.

Mattel has been attempting to widen its scope on representation by creating more inclusive toys for a while. Earlier this year, the toy company announced the launch of a black Barbie doll, who wears her hair natural and uses a wheelchair, the launch sent the internet into a frenzy. 

The doll, which comes with a ramp so that she can access Barbie Dreamhouses, was received with much praise on Twitter. Users were loving everything, from her natural hairstyle to the design of the wheelchair, which is an everyday chair rather than those commonly used in hospitals.

Mattel will launch ‘Creatable World’ exclusively online for the time being, in part to better control the message.

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Barbie Discusses White Privilege, Racial Profiling, and Microaggressions On Her YouTube Channel

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Barbie Discusses White Privilege, Racial Profiling, and Microaggressions On Her YouTube Channel

Barbie may have the reputation of being just a kid’s doll without much substance behind her shiny plastic face, but the truth is, the brand is seeking to do much more than that.

Last Wednesday, Barbie posted a video to her YouTube channel where she tackled the difficult topic of racism.

For those of you who don’t know, Barbie has a popular YouTube channel where she appears as an animated character in vlog-style videos. On her channel, along with videos like “DIY Rainbow Summer Party Ideas” and ” My Puppy Did My Homework?”, Barbie also tackles more serious topics from mental health to bullying.

In her most recent video, titled “Barbie and Nikki Discuss Racism,” Barbie invited her friend Nikki (who is Black) to discuss specific experiences in Nikki’s life where she felt she was treated unfairly due to the color of her skin.

Nikki then took center stage, telling stories of the microaggressions and unfair treatment that she has experienced as a Black woman. The language and concepts were in plain language that was easy for young viewers to understand.

Nikki starts by telling a story about how she was racially profiled. “Barbie and I had a sticker-selling contest on the beach last month. We split up and went our separate directions to see who could sell the most. While I was on the boardwalk, beach security stopped me three times. The security officer thought I was doing something bad, even though I was doing exactly the same thing that you were doing.”

Nikki goes on to tell another story about how her new French teacher discounted her amazing exam results by telling her she just “got lucky”. Nikki decided not to join the French Club because she didn’t want to have to keep proving herself.

At one point, Nikki says: “People did these things because I was Black, and they made the wrong assumptions about me.”

Through the video, Barbie is an ideal ally, offering Nikki kindness, support and empathy. She never tries to make her feelings seem invalid. She even tells the viewers about white privilege: “That means that white people get an advantage that they didn’t earn, and Black people get a disadvantage that they don’t deserve.”

According to Mattel Executive Lisa McKnight, these types of videos are part of their quest to “leverage” their “global platform” to tackle important topics.

“Being an ally includes having difficult conversations to better understand discrimination,” McKnight said to Insider. “We hope that by leveraging Barbie and Nikki to explore these conversations in a kid-friendly format, we can spark productive discussions for families and empower our next generation of leaders to become advocates for change, raising their voices against racism.”

We can’t wait to see what else Barbie teaches children through her YouTube channel.

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Barbie Is Doing Día De Muertos Once Again In 2020 And Twitter Has Something To Say About It

Culture

Barbie Is Doing Día De Muertos Once Again In 2020 And Twitter Has Something To Say About It

Barbie / Mattel, Inc

Mexico’s famed Día de Muertos celebrations are coming up, the time of year when families honor their dead relatives with ofrendas, parades, visits to cemeteries, and many other festivities.

And, of course, Barbie wasn’t going to miss out on the celebrations.

Mattel – which makes Barbie – has just launched a new Barbie Catrina that is much more festive and colorful than the first one last year, who was dressed in black.

On this occasion, Mattel worked with Mexican-American designer Javier Meabe who wanted to reflect the joy and deep-rooted traditions of the country.

“As a Mexican-American designer, it was important for me to use my creative voice to design a doll that celebrates the bright colors and vivid textures of my culture, as well as the traditions I grew up with that are represented and celebrated in Barbie,” Meaba said in a statement from Mattel. 

Although, Mattel has enlisted the designs of a Mexican-American designer, not everyone is pleased with the launch. Some are worried that the entire Día de Muertos collection is potentially watering down a 3,000-year-old tradition and are accusing Barbie of cultural appropriation.

Barbie is releasing its second Día de Muertos doll and it’s generating plenty of buzz.

For the second year in a row, Mattel is launching a Día de Muertos Barbie modeled after the traditions of Mexico’s famed celebrations.

“We often look at different ways to continue to engage girls and families to gain knowledge and celebrate other cultures and other parts of the world,” Michelle Chidoni, a spokeswoman for the company, said. “Our hope is for this Día de Muertos Barbie to honor the holiday for the millions that celebrate and to introduce people not familiar with the tradition to the rich meaning.”

This year’s doll was designed by Mexican American designer Javier Meabe who was inspired by his personal background and family traditions.

“It was very important that the second Dia De Muertos doll felt just as special as the first in the Barbie series,” said Meabe in a statement. “As a Mexican American Designer, it was important to me to use my creative voice to design a doll that celebrates the bright colors and vivid textures of my culture, as well, as have the traditions I grew up with represented and celebrated in Barbie.”

He continued, “For this doll, I was inspired by the color gold seen throughout Mexican culture, jewelry, buildings, statues and artwork and highlighted it throughout the design. The roses represent emotions and moments in life including celebrations, birth, death, passion, and love and I also was inspired to introduce new textures and a new dress silhouette.”

Barbie lovers can buy the doll for $75 on the company’s website or at mass retailers such as Amazon, Target and Walmart.

Last year marked the first time Barbie celebrated the iconic Mexican holiday.

Credit: Barbie / Mattel, Inc

Last year, Mattel released the first Barbie doll celebrating the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), and it was a huge hit. The floral dress and headpiece on the doll combined with the traditional calavara makeup design was absolutely stunning, and the same can be said about the 2020 version that just launched.

This time around, the Barbie Dia de Muertos doll features a light, blush-colored lace dress over a layer embroidered with floral and skeleton accents. The intricacy of the makeup has been taken up a notch, and the “golden highlights in her hair shimmer beneath a crown of skeleton hands holding roses and marigolds.”

However, since last year many have been questioning the intentions of Barbie and whether or not this is a good move.

In Mexican culture, the Día de Muertos — or Day of the Dead — is when the gateway between the living and the dead is said to open, a holiday during which the living honor and pay respects to loved ones who have died.

The new Día de Muertos Barbie was intended less as a portal into the realm of the dead and more as a gateway into Mexican culture. At least that is what Mattel is hoping for.

However, not everyone agrees. Latinx Twitter has lit up with both excitement and anger, with some folks appreciating the design while others are calling Mattel out for cultural appropriation. The Día de Muertos doll is another way Latinx culture is slowly entering the mainstream. With acclaimed shows like Vida and One Day at a Time and movies like Coco and Roma winning accolades — it seems even a toy company is looking to capitalize on Latinx culture

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