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Brief Published: 2 Oct 2019

Mattel’s Gender-Fluid Doll Embraces Flexi-Identities

Creatable World

US toy manufacturer Mattel’s new doll range moves beyond traditional binary depictions of gender, empowering children to explore a spectrum of identities within one toy.

Mattel’s Creatable World dolls have flat chests, short hair and ungendered facial features, allowing children to build their toy’s character and gender identity with accessories alone. The dolls come with a kit containing a long-haired wig and a mix of traditionally male and female clothes, offering over 100 different looks to play with. They also have six different options of skin tone and hair texture to choose from, ensuring children from a wider range of ethnicities find a doll that reflects their image.

Mattel tested the doll with 250 families across the US – including 15 children who identify as trans, non-binary or gender-fluid – before general release. “Toys are a reflection of culture and as the world continues to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, we felt it was time to create a doll line free of labels,” said Kim Culmone, senior vice-president of fashion doll design. It furthers Mattel’s campaign to make play more inclusive, and follows its launch of dolls with a wider range of skin tones and body types, and those celebrating people with disabilities.

Generations are increasingly aware of gender fluidity; a quarter of millennials and over a third (35%) of Gen Z know someone who prefers to use gender-neutral pronouns (Pew Research, 2019). Validating this, the Merriam-Webster dictionary recently included the personal pronouns “they” and “them”, and more parents are considering raising children free of gender.

Mattel’s dolls will appeal to young people discovering where they might fall on the gender spectrum and allow for more experimental play. For more insight on the future of gender and identity among the youth of today, see Consumer of 2035: Inclusivity Outlook and Making Scenes: Purpose, Protection and Connection.