The intersection between gender and  toys is in the news, possibly spurred by Mattel’s new ad for Barbie, “Imagine the Possibilities.”  

There has been a perception that Barbie is behind the times and plays into gender stereotypes.  Her popularity has dipped in recent years, too – Elsa has eclipsed Barbie in terms of sales. This new spot (which is on Mattel’s Barbie YouTube channel) tells a story of empowerment and, in the words of  this journalist, “is getting the stamp of approval from Barbie haters.”

This less stereotypical Barbie fits with toy industry trends. Retailers and manufacturers don’t label toys like they used to. Target and Amazon no longer have separate “boy” and “girl” toy categories. From a marketing standpoint it certainly makes sense, at least in the US, where gender identity is much less rigid than in the past.