New Mattel dolls go against gender stereotypes

Story by Megan Stover, Staff Writer

Mattel, the creator of Barbie, is making big strides towards gender inclusivity with their new line of gender-neutral dolls.

Total Equality Alliance President Jesse Gardner thinks the dolls are important because they give kids a way to express themselves.

“I think the dolls are awesome because for kids who don’t conform to a binary or have friends who don’t, or maybe even parents who don’t, it isn’t excluding them,” Gardner said, “it’s better to be all-inclusive.”

Gardner also said it gives parents and children a new way to approach the discussion of gender but knows that conversation can be hard. However, she said it is an important topic for people of all ages and in all stages of life.

“Like any change, people don’t like it and unfortunately there will always be those people that disapprove of new things,” she said. “Since this world began, there have been people outside of the binary. It is just our Victorian values that say you can only be this or that. It’s going to cause some problems but those are problems that need to be caused.”

To learn to be more inclusive, she said it is important to have an open mind.

“If you have biases and prejudices already established it’s not going to work. You have to open up,” she said. “You learn new things every day, why not learn about the people around you.”

Paul Ladipo, assistant director of inclusion and wellness education thinks Mattel is taking a step in the right direction.

“Inclusivity isn’t just race, it’s also genders and gender identities,” he said. “I think this will help kids break the traditional understanding of gender.”

Ladipo said there is nothing wrong with identifying as boy, girl, non-binary, or gender-fluid, and that gender isn’t as tightly defined as humans have tried to make it for thousands of years.

“I think these dolls will help kids understand that being male doesn’t always mean X and being a girl doesn’t always mean Y,” he said, “sometimes there are grey areas and that’s ok.”

Senior Tess Cotter said she likes that the dolls aren’t putting pressure on kids to conform.

“I think it’s great because you aren’t putting that societal pressure on a kid and you can just let them be who they are.”

Cotter said it is important for kids to know that their happiness is more important than societal standards.

“With these dolls there is a new idea that you can still be feminine without liking feminine things and you can be masculine without liking masculine things,” she said.

Cotter thinks negative reactions towards children who express their gender identities as something other than binary can be detrimental to their self-esteem.

“If a little boy wants to wear a dress, or wants his doll to wear a dress, it should be ok,” Cotter said. “It’s not hurting anybody… because it’s just a boy and just a dress.”