Our Corporate Neighbors: Mattel, Inc.

Photo provided  by Best Toy Stores In Los Angeles and the Mattel Logo dolls, toys and games

Photo provided by Best Toy Stores In Los Angeles and the Mattel Logo dolls, toys and games

Ashely Banks , Web Designer

With the move into the new school also comes a new setting, and because we are often stuck in our own world, we never take the time to look into what businesses are right in our own backyard.

There are an array of businesses that encompasses our school, many of which have rich histories within this community.  One in particular is is Mattel Inc.,  as it is one of the world’s largest toy companies, as it produces, designs, and distributes toys across up to 150 different countries.

Elliot and his wife Ruth Handler are the founders of Mattel. With both of them working in large businesses in Los Angeles, they decided to use both of their professions to create something that would get them new business and stay competitive in the world of evolving corporations. As time went on, Ruth carried the business into what it is today with the help of an acquaintance, Harold “Matt” Matson.

Throughout the years, Mattel has been a trendsetter and fore-runner in the toy industry, especially with their infamous toy, Barbie. A large majority of children starting at a young age have Barbie Dolls, and on average, Mattel estimates that around 90 percent of girls in the U.S between the ages of 3 and 10 own at least one Barbie doll.

Barbie was created as an adaptation of a German doll named Lilli, who first starred in a German comic strip, and became known as a “sex-symbol” for men all over Germany. Although that’s not exactly what Ruth Handler had in mind when she wanted to create Barbie, she did want to create an adult doll for children. Mattel’s goal overall was to make a doll that would be a “role model” that children could relate to and show them that women could be independent, smart, and have big dreams for the future.

Barbie has been a universal sign of beauty and success since she was produced in 1959, and has been an inspiration to girls across the world since then. Mattel has been aware that, for many years, Barbie has been a window into not only culture and trends but also perceived as an icon of what a woman should look like, how they should act, and what they should aspire to be.

Although this was the initial plan, it didn’t really play out that way upon launching the doll, Mattel noticed that while the sales of Barbie began to decline, there were many complaints from parents across the country who had a problem with the doll and what she represented. It has always been a controversial topic, but it had never been addressed that Barbie did not look like the majority of the girls that started to collect her.

“When growing up I would focus on the figure and the makeup on the dolls,” new teen Natasha Brown expressed. “So I thought why doesn’t everyone look like this?”

In order to keep Barbie as a symbol of empowerment for girls across the globe, Mattel had to keep her reputation as a “cultural icon” while making the doll more inclusive of other ethnicities and body types. Barbie was in the center of Mattel’s choice to be more diverse with their toys, with this came not only more recognition but a rise in their toy sales. Because of Barbie’s large impact on many girls, it was Mattel’s job to use this recognition to empower girls across the nation.

“I think it’s a good idea to show diversity in something so important as dolls because if we don’t we will keep raising kids with the mindset that “beautiful” is white, skinny, and tall,” said 15-year-old Angela Johnson.“But if we start to show diversity we will be able to introduce acceptance into the mindset of the next generation.”

As time has gone on, Mattel has decided to create a diverse range of dolls that include: tall, curvy and petite body types. And in addition to these new dolls, there are seven new skin tones, 22 different eye colors, and 24 different hair colors to choose from.

“These new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them,” Evelyn Mazzocco, global general manager for Barbie, said in a statement. The variety “allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them.”

Overall, Mattel has not only had a large impact on El Segundo economically but has also made an impact on the world around us. This corporation has been at the core of all of our childhoods and continues to make its mark in the upcoming youth. Toys such as Barbie, Legos, Hot Wheels, and American Girl Dolls all have been products that we as a generation have grown up with, and continue to be a set of toys that upcoming generations will turn to.