Toys are slowly breaking out of their gender rigid shell, and it’s a great thing. Generally speaking, most stores and websites categorize children’s toys by age and two genders: boy and girl. Trucks, STEM items, and footballs are often marketed towards boys to encourage them to be smart and strong. Meanwhile, girls are pushed towards dolls, play kitchens, and anything else considered “too frilly” for boys. This train of thought puts ridiculous limitations on kids who identify as a girl or boy but wanted to play with toys commonly associated with another sex. And, it completely ignores children who fall elsewhere on the gender spectrum and their supportive parents. Thankfully, this is starting to change and one of the world’s biggest toy producers is finally on board.
Mattel is pushing against boundaries with Creatable World, a line of recently launched a line of gender neutral dolls for all children to enjoy. It’s a big step forward for the toy making giant to make sure it continues to grow towards an inclusive and progressive future. After all, they are the company responsible for Barbies and Hot Wheels, two toys that have always been targeted towards a very specific audience.
Per Mattel’s website, the dolls are a “blank canvas” free of any features that are perceived as male or female. Kids are able to choose their doll’s hair and wardrobe to create a unique toy. The Creatable World doll currently retails for $29.99 and comes in several box kits with lots of different options. It’s a way to truly design a unique toy for a specific child who may (or may not) be gender fluid or non-binary. And, perhaps it will lead more adults to step outside of their own boundaries and allow their children to play freely with whatever makes them happy.
Monica Dreger, Mattel’s head of consumer insights. told TIME that a child’s joy is the ultimate joy. “There were a couple of gender-creative kids who told us that they dreaded Christmas Day because they knew whatever they got under the Christmas tree, it wasn’t made for them,” said Dreger. “This is the first doll that you can find under the tree and see is for them because it can be for anyone.”
— MATTEL (@Mattel) September 25, 2019
Mattel insists that Creatable World dolls aren’t their way of being PC but rather a way to meet children where they are as people. They can transform the doll into a reflection of who they are or wish to be in the future. There’s less stigma and boundaries associated with having a Ken or a Barbie whose bodies fit into standards of what’s perceived to be a feminine or masculine figure. The kids simply get to be kids and express themselves in an authentic way, which is what they would do without adult intervention.
And, maybe Mattel’s Creatable World doll could inspire more toy and clothing creators to eschew gender boxes when making toys. It may not completely end the pink and blue aisle divisions but it will make a whole lot of kids more secure in their own skin.
Featured Image: Mattel