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.