Gender Neutral Dolls Encourage Imagination AND Inclusivity

Mattel recently launched Creatable World, a new brand of gender-neutral dolls that takes a step towards bridging gaps in children’s emotional development. Gendered stereotypes can restrict both boys and girls as they begin to play by themselves and with each other. Toys are commonly marketed based on gender, and dolls are a long-standing example. Mattel, in fact, owns some of the most iconic brands of dolls that have remained popular across generations.

From Barbie and Polly Pocket to WWE and the DC Universe, the majority of Mattel’s product lines are visibly tailored towards either boys or girls, from the colors of the accessories to the models used on packaging and advertisements. Mattel has begun to adapt to societal trends like the Body Positivity Movement by increasing the diversity of their product designs to represent a wider variety of physical appearances, such as “tall” and “curvy.”

The six Creatable World “customizable characters” are gender-neutral and are available in a gradient of skin tones. Each doll comes with six pieces of clothing with both feminine and masculine tops and bottoms. Additional accessories include three pairs of shoes, a hat, and sunglasses. The packaging, with pastel yellows and greens, shows side-by-sides of the dolls with both short and long hair, with mixed-and-matched outfits demonstrating different combinations of skirts, jackets, jogger pants, and t-shirts.

The most innovative item of the Deluxe Character Kits, however, is the long hair extension piece. This gives kids the option to style their dolls as feminine with short hair, or masculine with long hair. Recent parenting trends are in favor of gender-neutral products to avoid pressuring their children to fit stereotypes. All children can benefit from playing with dolls because it encourages storytelling, nurturing behaviors, and self-expression. 

Another notable feature of the Creatable World dolls is their adolescent appearance. Mattel’s Barbie brand is known for the ever-expanding variety of professional occupations that their adult dolls represent. Barbie’s girl gang includes a Photojournalist, Polar Marine Biologist, Judge, and an Astrophysicist, to name just a few of the more recent additions. These dolls encourage kids to imagine their future selves and the careers they could work towards. The Creatable World dolls instead represent the younger age groups that are playing and learning with the dolls (intended for children 6 years and older).

Mattel sets an example for promoting inclusion, especially for younger generations. While brands such as Givenchy have missed the mark with gender-neutral products, Mattel seems to be committed to encouraging freedom of expression, beyond using inclusivity as a marketing strategy. The attention to detail allows children playing with the Creatable World dolls to style their dolls according to their own direction without any influence from the design of the dolls. Mattel’s new brand gives kids the opportunity to develop their own ideas of gender, moving away from the societal norms surrounding gender as a construct.

"A customizable doll kit to keep labels out and invite everyone in."