Toy companies have spent decades selling dolls “for girls” and cars and trucks “for boys.” But now, Mattel is releasing a line of dolls that is sure to make your non-binary heart leap with joy.
Mattel’s new Creatable World line features gender-neutral dolls of colour that come with customizable hair and an array of fabulous fashion options.
Designed to be dolls that “are as limitless as the kids who play with them,” Mattel’s website says that the Creatable World line is meant to “keep labels out and invite everyone in — giving kids the freedom to create their own customizable characters again and again.”
These gender customizable dolls are sold in $29.99 kits that give all children the option to gender and style their doll however they want.
These dolls also represent non-binary folks who aren’t white and androgynous or masculine, which is so often the default representation of non-binary folks in media. Instead, these dolls include Black, Latinx, and Asian gender nonconforming children with various skin tones. And while all the dolls have short hair by default, they all come with luxuriously long wigs so that kids have the option of styling them in a wide mix of ways.
Still, the Creatable World dolls are only available in one body type, which may be reminiscent of Barbie’s singular, unrealistic body type.
Though these new gender-neutral dolls are meant to have prepubescent features, they still lack the diversity of body shape that Barbie’s newer “curvy” doll might offer. And many young girls identify with these “curvy” Barbies, according to a 2019 study published in the Public Library of Science Journal, which has the effect of offering girls a positive interaction with bodies that look more like their own.
This sense of identification is one that mainstream dolls have historically denied many children, including the gender-nonconforming children of colour that this new line might appeal to. And while these new Creatable World dolls aren’t perfect, they might offer gender non-conforming children of colour (not to mention adults) the chance to truly recognize themselves in a doll for the first time.
This is especially important, given how deeply representation matters when you’re learning to love yourself. And this journey to self-love is what playing with dolls should really be about, to begin with.
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