The company Mattel is most famously known for Barbies. Although the Barbie is evolving, the doll is stereotypically blond, tall and skinny. These dolls don’t look like the average woman, so at a young age, girls already have unrealistic body images projected on them. But the time has come for these dolls to leave the shelves.
As reported by TIME, Mattel just released “the world’s first gender-neutral doll,” and all I have to say is that it’s about time. The dolls can be whatever kids want them to be; it’s up to the kids on how they want to play with them. This allows kids to play without limits. The dolls aren’t wearing makeup and don’t have disproportionate bodies like Mattel’s dolls have had in the past. These dolls come with short or long wigs and a wardrobe ranging from hoodies to tutus, which all allow the dolls to be customizable. They also have flat feet (thank gosh).
If you think about it, almost everything is gendered: shampoo, razors, clothes and even pens (shout out to Bic). Toys especially have always been gendered. The gendered aisles in stores and it forces kids into unnecessary boxes. Not every boy wants to play with cars and superheroes, and not every girl wants to play with princesses and Barbies. There are millions of children who play with toys, and not every kid will fit into the two categories given to them. These gendered aisles are damaging; kids should not feel like they have to choose between an art kit and a science kit just because one isn’t for “their” gender. According to TIME, people who identify as nonbinary is increasing. So why do we continue to keep gendered toys relevant and toy aisles separated? In fact, according to NPR, toys are more gendered than they were half a century ago. Mattel is taking pivotal steps as a company to create these genderless dolls, and hopefully other companies follow in their footsteps.
As crazy as it sounds, millennials are becoming parents now. Older people aren’t always fans of millennials, however they may be the change we need. They are keeping the houseplant industry alive and killing the gendered society we live in. Millennials are no strangers to the changing gender concepts. In fact, according to Forbes, millennials are a driving force in this “cultural shift.” It was also found that 50 percent of millennials believe that gender is a spectrum and one in twelve millennials identify as either transgender or gender nonconforming. This is the generation that is raising the next generation of children, which means we are headed towards a more gender-neutral society. I do not doubt that Mattel will be the first of many to make gender-neutral toys and other products. Mattel is starting a movement that will not only foster an inclusive environment but will also be very profitable.
Kids must see themselves in the dolls they play with. The kids who don’t identify as a girl or boy have never seen a doll that is like them. It is important that all kids regardless of gender identity feel included.
Mattel’s creation of these genderless dolls can be seen as political and controversial. Many people believe that there are two genders and that is all, and there are people who believe that gender is just a social construct. The United States is still in the process of accepting and understanding gender apart from the two binary genders. We are not living in a gender-neutral society or even a society where being gender-neutral is normal. However, Mattel is taking the correct steps to inform the new generation that the world does not have to be a gendered place.