Makers of childhood toy create diversity

Mattel introduces gender-neutral, judge dolls

Tamar Gewirtz

As the world progresses in our understanding and inclusion of diversity, companies have been adjusting to new societal standards. It has been stepping up their game to show their support and encourage these changes. This includes Barbie: the beloved childhood toy.

Growing up as a child, I loved the Barbie dolls; my personal favorite was tennis Barbie. However, they didn’t have such a wide variety as they do today. They were all thin-waisted white women, with long blonde hair.

Mattel, Barbie’s manufacturer, stood up to show their support in the fight for racial and gender equality. In 1979, Mattel, ahead of their time, created African American and Hispanic Barbies. In 2016, they introduced Barbies of different shapes and sizes, including the petite Barbie, the tall Barbie and the curvy Barbie.

Barbie has an incredible influence on young children, and Mattel has clearly decided to make their mark on the world for the better. 

When children become exposed to a diverse range of dolls, they discover the world isn’t just one type of person. It includes everyone, of all races, genders, cultures and body types. Children learn that they do not fit the description of one doll and that’s OK. 

Most recently, Barbie came out with gender-neutral and judge Barbie dolls. This new addition demonstrates Mattel’s commitment not only to expanding definitions of gender identity, but also to gender equality in the workforce. They chose to create a judge doll after Lisa McKnight, senior vice president of Barbie, discovered only 33% of sitting US state judges are women. Judge dolls thus push girls from a young age to realize the power in them. 

Judge Barbies encourage young girls to recognize they can do anything they set their mind to and not let other people tell them otherwise just because they are women. Thus, they are empowering women and young girls.

Gender-neutral Barbies encourage kids to realize that they can be anyone — not just what others want them to be, or what others see them as. They advance the world of toys by exposing children from a young age to the idea that gender is fluid. 

Together, gender-neutral and judge Barbies defy stereotypes. It is now time for other toy manufacturers to follow Mattel in their path to create more diversity and inclusiveness.