The makers of Barbie have unveiled a new range of gender-neutral dolls that allows children the freedom to create their own characters and genders.
According to Mattel, the world’s biggest toy company, the Creatable World dolls are “designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in.”
Each comes with both feminine and masculine-presenting hairstyles, clothes and accessories that allow children to customise the toys as boy, girl, both or neither.
They also do not have the standard raised areas representing genitals found on dolls like Barbie. The initial line consists of six doll kits, in various skin tones.
“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 Mattel Fashion Doll Design, in a statement.
“Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all kids to express themselves freely which is why it resonates so strongly with them.
“We’re hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play,” added Culmone.
The company said it had worked alongside a team of experts, parents, physicians and, kids, to create the one-of-a-kind play experience.
According to Time, the gender-neutral dolls were prototyped with 250 American families that included 15 children who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, or gender-fluid.
The Creatable World doll range reflects a growing move away from gender stereotyping by toymakers and stores, including in some shops no longer displaying toys in traditional ‘boy’s’ and ‘girl’s’ sections.
While Mattel said that the dolls’ unveiling was a global one, it’s not clear if and when they will be available in South African stores.