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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Mattel Is Supporting Children Of COVID-19 First Responders With Career Barbie Dolls

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Mattel Is Supporting Children Of COVID-19 First Responders With Career Barbie Dolls

mattel / Instagram

As first responders continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no denying that the little people in their lives have been deeply affected. With their parents being called away from them, children of first responders are being forced to endure the stresses that come with parents who risk daily exposure to the disease that has already killed 298K people worldwide.

In an effort to show support for these frontlines workers and their family members, the company behind the Barbie doll (Mattel) has created a new initiative.

On Wednesday, Mattel announced that it had launched its #ThankYouHeroes Barbie program.

The new initiative will work to donate a doll to the First Responders Children’s Foundation for every career doll sold between May 14-17. The line of dolls that are part of the initiative will spotlight “everyday heroes supporting the community.” The lines feature a number of essential professions from nurses and firefighters to doctors and food service employees.

According to People, “Up to 30,000 dolls will be donated to the foundation, which was established in 2002 as a way to financially support children who have lost a parent in the line of duty or are currently experiencing financial hardships, according to their website.”

In a press release, addressing the new dolls, the SVP and global head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel, Lisa McKnight explained “As Barbie has always highlighted role models to inspire the limitless potential in the next generation, we are proud to launch a program celebrating the real-life heroes working on the front lines and supporting their families through the First Responders Children’s Foundation… We know this generation is hyper-aware of what is happening right now as they chalk sidewalks, make signs, and lean out windows to cheer each night to thank our front-line workers. We want to do our part to give back and inspire today’s kids to take after these heroes one day.”

In a separate statement, Jillian Crane (the president of First Responders Children’s Foundation) explained that the program is meant to bring happiness to the children of first responders.

The program comes at “a time when [the first responders’] children are in need of a little joy in their lives,” Crane explained. “There’s no doubt that first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic are sacrificing so much to protect our families, and it’s our responsibility as a nation to help them through this crisis by providing grants, scholarships, and partnerships such as our program with Mattel that encourages consumers to support these efforts with the buy a doll, donate a doll program that benefits first responder families.”

On top of all of this, Mattel is also using its resources to contribute to COVID-19 efforts.

Besides the Barbie doll program, Mattel has already produced 500,000 face shields and masks for medical professionals. They are also working to donate non-profit partners, such as Baby2Baby, Feed the Children, and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.

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Mattel Just Launched A Line Of Barbies With Skin Tones and Hair Styles Of All Types


Mattel Just Launched A Line Of Barbies With Skin Tones and Hair Styles Of All Types

Mattel / Instagram

Mattel’s efforts to shake up the perception of their Barbie dolls continues! In the latest collection, which was released for Black History Month, the brand tapped a Black designer queen to create a collection that was truly inclusive, brilliantly Black and beautiful. The new line features a rainbow of Black skin tones and hairstyles that include afros, braids, and women in wheelchairs.

For their latest collection, the brand behind Barbie collaborated with creative consultant Shiona Turini.

The Bermudan stylist and costumer designer for the 2019 film “Queen & Slim” came up with over 20 looks for the new collection.

“I’ll never forget being in New York as a young black girl and finding a Black Barbie, and especially a Black Barbie birthday set,” Turini told People magazine in a recent interview. “Barbie is a historic brand that was inclusive before it was trendy.”

As part of her inspiration, Turini used the original Black Barbie (1980).

Turini paired up the original look with a Barbie in an afro.

“That was the basis for this image,” Turini explained in the interview. “We decided to have her on her throne with the other dolls dressed in her likeness, also in the red to support her.”

According to Turni, every aspect of the collection drew inspiration from Black activists.

Turini says she also found inspiration in the film Queen & Slim for the outfits in this most recent collection.

“When I worked on the movie ‘Queen & Slim’ the stand-out, ‘hero’ look for me was mixing snakeskin and tiger prints in the same look,” Barbie Style explained. “The contrast of the two patterns completely subverts expectations, and I was excited to use the same formula on pieces such as Barbie’s thigh-high boots to break the traditional mold of dolls I had grown up playing with.”

As we’ve seen with the Frida, La Catrina, and the recent release of vitiligo and hairless Barbie, it’s important that ALL people feel seen. “Representation matters and I’m so grateful to be a part of this moment,” she told CR Fashion Book.

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