Mattel has launched a new line of gender-nonconforming dolls designed to “keep labels out and invite everyone in”.
Unlike Mattel’s Barbie and Ken, the new “Creatable World” line of dolls come with a variety of accessories to encourage more creative play for children.
The doll kits consist of a young doll with no gender-identifying features and two hairstyle options – long or short – as well as a variety of outfits.
Mattel says its new doll is based on testing with 250 families, which included 15 children who identified as either transgender or genderfluid.
Monica Dreger, head of consumer insights at Mattel, told TIME she hopes the doll puts an end to a story she heard throughout the two years of research and development.
“There were a couple of gender-creative kids who told us they dreaded Christmas Day. Because they knew whatever they got under the Christmas tree wasn’t made for them,” Dreger said.
“This is the first doll you can find under the tree and see is for them because it can be for anyone.”
Mattel found during testing of the dolls that children weren’t concerned about labels. They just wanted a doll they could transform according to their whims, the company said.
“It’s important for kids to have a doll who they can relate to like a friend,” Dreger said.
“It’s not aspirational, it’s a way they can imagine themselves – a slightly cooler version of themselves.”
Mattel praised for ‘inclusive’ new dolls
Mattel’s gender-neutral dolls, likely a world first, has won praise from some in the LGBTIQ community.
“So many children and parents never saw themselves represented in toys and dolls,” LGBTIQ advocacy group GLAAD tweeted.
“But this new line raises the bar for inclusion thanks to input from parent, physicians and children themselves.”
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