Why Dolls are the 51st Shade of Grey

So Twitter yielded an interesting find this evening – ‘A doll for everyone’: Mattel launches a line of gender-inclusive dolls. The idea of playing with dolls being limited to one gender is a not helped by it being believed to be ‘traditionally’ a girly thing to do. All children love to play with dolls, Mattel’s inspiration came when “There were a couple of gender-creative kids who told us that they dreaded Christmas Day because they knew whatever they got under the Christmas tree, it wasn’t made for them,” says Monica Dreger, head of consumer insights at Mattel. “This is the first doll that you can find under the tree and see is for them because it can be for anyone.”

There are both male and female dolls geared towards young girls, I agree Action Man was for boys and certainly was popular but in recent times millennial parents have pushed back against “pink aisles” and “blue aisles” in toy stores in favour of gender-neutral sections, allowing girls exposure to the building blocks and chemistry kits that foster interest in science and math but are usually categorised as boys’ toys. To create something that is gender inclusive and widely tested and accepted can only be an impressive feat in a world where identity is so fragile.

So why are dolls the 51st shade of grey? Well for a start I personally think they are a bit creepy, there is nothing wrong with playing with dolls I did as a child, having them either teaches excellent sharing skills or turns you into a hoarder/collector. The world of Barbie and Ken is now changed, there are no boys and girls departments at Mattel anymore they are genderless nouns like cars and dolls. It seems odd that without wanting to we have created a world where children as young as 8 are identifying as gender fluid, do we need to be putting such pressure on them so young?

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