Mattel is calling their new toy the world’s first gender-neutral doll, according to Time magazine. It launches today (Sept. 25) and might just help redefine who gets to play with a toy traditionally deemed taboo for half the world’s kids.
The lips are not too full, the eyelashes not too long, the jaw not too wide… no Barbie breasts or broad, Ken shoulders. Each doll in their Creatable World series looks like a slender 7-year-old with short hair, but they also come with a wig of long locks and has a kid-friendly selection of fashion like hoodies, sneakers, graphic T-shirts along with tutus and camouflage pants. It sells for $29.99.
Mattel’s first promo for the 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.”
This seems to be where the country is going, but it just might alienate some parents.
Not Millennial parents though. They’ve have been in favor of gender-neutral sections and major toy sellers have listened, thanks to the size, trend-setting ability and buying power of this generation.
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.
Target eliminated gender-specific sections in 2015 and Disney banished “boys” and “girls” labels from its children’s costumes the same year. Last year, Mattel did away with gender toy divisions too.
Mattel currently has 19% share in the $8 billion doll industry and gaining just one point would translate to $80 million in revenue for the company. But parents make buying decisions, and adults aren’t going to have a neutral reaction to this new doll.
Mattel’s president Richard Dickson insists it isn’t intended as any political statement.
“We’re not in the business of politics, 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.”
I think being a company today, you have to have a combination of social justice along with commerce, and that balance can be tricky. Not everyone will appreciate you or agree with you.”
Dickson goes on to say,
“I think if we could have a hand in creating the idea that a boy can play with a perceived girl toy and a girl can play with a perceived boy toy, we would have contributed to a better, more sensitive place of perception in the world today.
And even more so for the kids that find themselves in that challenging place, if we can make that moment in their life a bit more comfortable, and knowing we created something that makes them feel recognized, that’s a beautiful thing.”
(Photos, Mattel; via Time)