Mattel has launched Creatable World, a new line of gender-neutral dolls, which isn’t the first time that Mattel has made a significant update to its doll offerings in the past few years. In 2016, the company introduced three additional body types for Barbie dolls: petite, tall, and curvy (“just like ladies jeans at Target,” wrote Beat EIC Heidi MacDonald).
But while the introduction of additional body types was a change to the existing line of Barbie dolls, the Creatable World line is a new, separate brand. And, unlike the jeans at Target, Creatable World dolls are currently only available online (Target and Wal-Mart also include the dolls for purchase on their websites, but while they may be purchased and shipped to some brick and mortar shops, the retailers also list the dolls as “Not in Stores”).
The Creatable World line includes six dolls, each with a different skin tone and style of short hair. In addition to the default short haircut, the six “deluxe character kits” (which retail for $29.99) each include a long-haired wig allowing kids to seamlessly switch their doll between long and short hair. None of the dolls are gendered in the marketing, packaging, or in any way on the dolls themselves. However, unlike Barbie’s four body types – which still fall considerably short of accurately depicting the full spectrum of body types – the Creatable World dolls are only available in a single, slim frame.
Each of the dolls also comes packaged with a variety of clothing options, including two tops, two sets of pants (or shorts), a jacket, and a skirt. Like the dolls, the clothes are not gendered. While the variety of clothing is laudable and the lack of gendered labeling is refreshing, the line does seem to favor traditionally masculine-presenting clothing in place of a more encompassing androgynous wardrobe, which is a shame.
In spite of a few areas for improvement, the Creatable World line of dolls offers a gender-neutral option that will allow more kids to see themselves in their play. Hopefully, Mattel will continue to expand to include additional gender-neutral representation and make the line available in stores, where it can reach more children who might be interested in the product but who are unlikely to be browsing the Target website.