Hi Marie, thanks for your comment! You’re absolutely right that the Time Magazine piece describes the dolls differently from how the website does, and also commits other misrepresentations such as inaccurately listing the available clothes and the like. That article is also one of the primary ways that news about this new product is spreading, and is a big part of the excitement over the dolls that has been drummed up. I’ve talked to multiple cis and trans people today who were overjoyed to hear a gender neutral line was being released. Mattel knows that is the common refrain and they are capitalizing on it, without having to actually to the mat and call the dolls nonbinary. It’s a pretty classic Rainbow Capitalism move to try and reap the rewards of repesentation without claiming the responsibilities associated with it.
My goal here isn’t to tear Mattel to shreds, it’s really not. I’m disappointed at the hype more than anything else — there is always so much hype when another socially acceptable thin afab trans person gets a bit of condition acceptance. I know that the dolls are seven year olds, and that’s fine, that does impact their features — but making them pre-pubescent was a choice. Mattel doesn’t solely make dolls of kids. They make a lot of dolls of adults. Every choice they made here about who to represent and how to represent them has a market basis, and it has consequences. It doesn’t make Mattel any more evil than any other corporation, but it doesn’t make its actions benign either. I know a lot of people, especially parents, are jazzed to get their kids these dolls, and I’m sure they will affirm and inform a lot of kids. But a lot of potential was lost here too, and they just don’t deserve the outpouring of accolades that I’m seeing. For them this was a really tame choice, and it’s a pretty empty win for trans people. As you said yourself, Mattel doesn’t even describe this as a trans, nonbinary, or neutral line.