Mattel, the 74-year-old company who happens to be the manufacturer of both Barbie and Hot Wheels, has come out with a brand new product idea.
It has been announced that Mattel will release their newest project ‘Creatable World’ which presents the first series of ‘gender-neutral’ dolls.
Without a doubt, the aforementioned dolls differ quite a bit from Matell’s previous, ‘gendered’ Barbie dolls in a noteworthy way. The new gender-neutral dolls, as argued by the manufacturer, present a ‘white canvas’ for young children of any ‘gender identification’, presuming they have such, to play around with.
Mattel has released the following statement in regard to their new doll series:
“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.Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all kids to express themselves freely.”
— MATTEL (@Mattel) September 25, 2019
— MATTEL (@Mattel) September 25, 2019
The company continued on to say:
“We’re hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play.”
Hence, it is safe to argue that toy companies are making a great effort in keeping up with the ‘progress’ in the three key areas of ‘representation, inclusion, and diversity’ that the new generation called ‘Generation Z’ is largely responsible for.
In all fairness, studies with regard to gender identification are not easily accessible. However, a recent one from the University of California, Los Angeles, has established that 27% of teenagers in the California region considered, or identified, themselves as gender-nonconforming at differing degrees.
Moreover, just during the span of this month, a large number of toys and board games with a similar ‘gender-neutral and ‘battling the concept of gender roles’ message to them have come out. For instance, Hasbro released a new version of Monopoly, called ‘Ms. Monopoly’ in which female players earn more than male ones. Moreover, Mattel also came out with culturally diverse Barbie dolls which, in result, brought accusations of cultural appropriation their way.
The response to the new line of dolls, as well as board games, hasn’t been all positive at all. Both Hasbro and Mattel have been socially held responsible for attempting to profit off ‘culture wars’.
John “Hex” Carter, a board game designer and consultant, has said in an interview with the Guardian that:
“There’s already this vibe in the [board] gaming community that anything Monopoly does is a cash-grab. Because the market is already flooded with so many different versions of it. So the motivation behind a game like Ms Monopoly is transparent: to make money“
However, as to be expected, Matell’s gender-neutral doll has been a huge hit with the LGBTQ+ community. Hence, the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Glaad took to Twitter to make the following statement:
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. https://t.co/AsZJUizzlb.
— GLAAD (@glaad) September 25, 2019
Nonetheless, despite the ‘progressive’ touch to the Creatable World dolls, Mattel distanced themselves from the idea of having any political inclination.
Mattel’s president, Richard Dickson, told Time Magazine:
“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.”
A video on the matter is available for you to watch below!