Makers of Barbie Release Gender-Neutral Dolls

Mattel, the makers of Barbie, is releasing a new line titled “Creatable World,” where all the dolls are young and gender-neutral.

Creatable World dolls are available in different skin tones and each doll comes with two wigs, one short and one long, with several clothing options, including skirts and pants. The different hair styles come in curly, straight, and braided. In contrast to Barbie and Ken who are made to look older and be “aspirational,” these dolls have a youthful appearance and are meant to be relatable to the children.

Mattel spent 18 months researching and designing these dolls, including working with 250 families and children of all gender-identities. Mattel found that children do not want to be told what types of toys to play with based on their assigned gender. Michelle Chidoni, a spokeswoman for Mattel, said that gender “was something that was really innate to the kids, it was something that, in some cases, was a little bit harder for their parents to understand.”

Kim Culmone, the executive who lead the team who designed Creatable World, acknowledged that “some parents may be uncomfortable feeling like the toy is creating a situation where gender will need to be discussed with their child, but that’s a really personal family discussion.”

Gender and gender-identity has been increasingly political in recent years. However, Chidoni emphasized that Mattel sees the new line “as something that’s all about play and not about politics.”

Source: NYTimes 9/25/19, Time 9/25/19

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