Editorial for Portfolio – Valcom

Are Gender-Neutral Dolls Causing Controversy?

Mattel, the company behind the world pronounced Barbie and Ken doll is moving its toy line to be more inclusive with a rapidly changing world by announcing a gender-neutral line of dolls, as it must. Mattel’s gender-less doll set for kids, officially called the “Creatable World Deluxe Character Kit Customizable Doll,” is likely to be as divisive as every other social innovation in our contentious country today. Beginning to follow the trend of Disney and Target who are removing labels “for boys and for girls” and replacing them with “for kids”. In a modern generation of rapid change in who people are, why would the public find this to be so deceiving. To answer that, people should not care about a gender neutral doll, but instead should be happy that a company is appealing to numerous audiences and becoming more inclusive without hurting anyone.

Mattel claims after 18 months of research and many designs, these toys represent what the new era of children would want. A way for boys to not be stereotyped into playing with cars and girls being told to play with dolls. However, the fight for gender-neutral toys is not a new thing, as approximately eight years ago a petition was created to make LEGO an all gender toy as many claimed it was marketed towards boys with masculine sets and colors. Mattel, has been known to target both boys and girls with advertising but has taken a whole new risk by creating this new toy.

Most toy companies are wary of alienating customers to the left or to the right of center. They want to respond to America’s growing comfort with non-binary gender roles, but they don’t want to lose customers with more traditional attitudes either. Mattel is not the first toy manufacturer to introduce this type of toy. Three years ago, Tonner Doll Company also introduced a gender neutral doll set. People did not like the doll, as only a handful of customers thought the doll was a positive move in the right direction. Creating a doll where a male is a nurse and a female is a computer science major is almost what these dolls could be moving towards showing that anyone can be who they want.

However in the most recent presidential election, the withdraw of support from the Trump Administration with LGBTQ+ laws and protection’s for those citizens has not helped with positive viewing of the dolls either. Reversing laws once created by the Obama administration to protect transgenders and laws stating how they can publicly use restrooms has caused more trouble within many states. But many toy companies, despite lack of support from the Trump Administration, have continued to proactively move away from gender based tags and toys.

By having no support or little at all from the government, and not knowing that the dolls are not a political move for companies, families question whether or not having toys as this such would bring up the situation that parents would need to talk to their kids about what the meaning is. The toy companies and now more Americans see it as a step towards preventing these types of talks from happening. So people need to know that this is not a bad thing, but that this is a positive move for the future and preventing more controversy from happening later on.

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