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Mattel, the creator of the iconic Barbie and Ken dolls, Mattel, has launched a new gender-neutral doll that invites kids to play with gender expression.
The new line of toys from Mattel is called Creatable World and uses the tagline “all welcome.” There are six kits with dolls in a variety of skin tones and hairstyles that can be customized to have short or long hair. Each kit comes with a small collection of feminine and masculine clothing, shoes, and accessories that can be mixed and matched for kids to play free of gender expectations.
“Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms,” Kim Culmone, senior vice president of Mattel’s doll design, told the Independent. Mattel says that research included working with “experts, parents, physicians and most importantly, kids.”
While some may complain that the demographic for the toy (ages 6 and up) is too young to be exploring their gender, others argue that enforcing gender roles in play is actually bad for kids—and not just the gender-nonconforming ones.
Culmone said the company hopes to, “encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play.” Psychologists have said that dolls help children learn emotional skills from doll play and that those lessons are especially important for young boys, who are societally discouraged from such learning.
The doll was met with excitement from advocates for trans and gender-nonconforming kids, as well as people who want their kids to play without arbitrary gender rules.
🎵 🎵 🎵— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) September 25, 2019
I'm a non-binary doll
In a binary world
I am plastic
You can brush my hair
Please use the pronoun "their"
Imagination, life is your creation
🎵 🎵 🎵https://t.co/LPUzviLzJs
theyre playing with toys that they can relate to, why are you boomers so mad about a child being happy lol— spencer (@taeiImp3) September 25, 2019
I think this is more about letting imagination flow more than anything else; thankfully dolls like this exist today for children who are gender fluid or for those who are not, and they all just want to create a wonderful world full of dolls of all existences.— Jen McMahon (@jmcmahon78) September 25, 2019
“A collection like this just knocks down every barrier to play,” said Cara Natterson, a pediatrician who helped with the creation and design of the dolls.
It’s not the first time in recent memory the company moved toward LGBTQ inclusivity. Last December, Mattel reportedly started working on a gay marriage Barbie set.
The Creatable World kits are available for purchase at $29.99.
H/T the Independent
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They have written for The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, The Lingerie Addict, and Bullet Points.