'We felt it was time to create a doll line free of labels," said a Mattel representative.
The creators of Barbie want children to "express themselves freely" with their toys.
On Wednesday, Mattel launched Creatable World, the first line of gender-neutral dolls. Featuring various hair styles and skin tones, the dolls are part of a $30 kit that includes different sets of clothing and accessories for customization.
"Toys are a reflection of culture and as the world continues to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, we felt it was time to create a doll line free of labels," said Kim Culmone, Senior Vice President of Mattel Fashion Doll Design, in a press release.
"Through research, we heard that kids don't want their toys dictated by gender norms. We're hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play," read the statement.
According to Time, Mattel tested the dolls with 250 families across seven states, including 15 children who "identify as trans, gender-nonbinary or gender-fluid". And a recent study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that 27% of California teens identify as gender-nonconforming.
However, Mattel understands it will be the parents buying the dolls. The company, who holds a 19% market share in the $8 billion doll industry, prepared for backlash after a testing group proved some parents felt the "gender-neutral" branding was a political agenda, reported Time.
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"We're not in the business of politics and we respect the decision any parent makes around how they raise their kids. Our job is to stimulate imaginations. Our toys are ultimately canvases for cultural conversation, but it's your conversation, not ours; your opinion, not ours," Mattel President Richard Dickson told the publication.
"I think being a company today, you have to have a combination of social justice along with commerce, and that balance can be tricky," Dickson added. "Not everyone will appreciate you or agree with you."
Naysayers aside, Wednesday's announcement has already garnered strong support, especially from the LGBTQ community.
"Mattel's new line of gender inclusive dolls encourages children to be their authentic selves and is the latest sign that toys and media aimed at kids are expanding to reflect how diverse children and their families actually are," said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement.
"So many children and parents never saw themselves represented in toys and dolls, but this new line raises the bar for inclusion thanks to input from parents, physicians and children themselves," she added.
The Creatable World doll line is available now on Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com.