It’s finally here: On Wednesday, Mattel launched its revolutionary new line of dolls.
In a move the company believes to be surrendering to the demands of children, the toymaker behind Thomas & Friends and Power Wheels brings to a toy box near you Creatable World — a “gender inclusive” series allowing kids to mix and match the figures’ female and male hair, clothes, and accessories.
What are they really hoping for? According to Senior Vice President of Mattel Fashion Doll Design Kim Culmone, to open a dialogue:
“We see this line as an opportunity for us to open up that dialogue around what dolls are for and who dolls are for. And also, as the world begins to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, we absolutely fundamentally believed it was time to launch a doll line free of labels and free of rules for kids.”
But it’s also supply and demand:
“Kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms.”
The Daily Mail notes that author and pediatrician Cara Natterson was consulted on the project.
Here’s what she had to say:
“A collection like this just knocks down every barrier to play. Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all kids to express themselves freely, which is why it resonates so strongly with them.”
If I may say so, the messages seem to conflict. Is the toy in response to what kids want, or is it to teach kids to think differently?
“We’re hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play,” Cara stated.
As per by The Daily Wire, Mattel explained they utilized a “dedicated team of experts, parents, physicians, and most importantly, kids” in the development of the line, which boasts six different dolls of varying skin color.
Time magazine reports on the new line:
A child opens a box. He starts jumping and screaming with joy — not an unusual sound in the halls of Mattel’s headquarters where researchers test new toys. But this particular toy is a doll, and it’s rare for parents to bring boys into these research groups to play with dolls. It’s rarer still for a boy to immediately attach himself to one the way Shi’a just did.
An eight-year-old who considers himself gender fluid and whose favorite color is black one week, pink the next, Shi’a sometimes plays with his younger sister’s dolls at home, but they’re “girly, princess stuff,” he says dismissively. This doll, with its prepubescent body and childish features, looks more like him, right down to the wave of bleached blond bangs. “The hair is just like mine,” Shi’a says, swinging his head in tandem with the doll’s. Then he turns to the playmate in the toy-testing room, a seven-year-old girl named Jhase, and asks, “Should I put on the girl hair?” Shi’a fits a long, blond wig on the doll’s head, and suddenly it is no longer an avatar for him, but for his sister. …
Mattel’s first promotional spot for the $29.99 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.” With this overt nod to trans and nonbinary identities, the company is betting on where it thinks the country is going, even if it means alienating a substantial portion of the population. 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.
With Christmas around the corner, I suppose we’ll soon see whether it “resonates so strongly” with the average child.