Gender Equality

Kmart Australia launches inclusive same-sex family doll sets

Representation is a critical component of reducing bigotry and stigma.

Image:  @sydneymardigras / Twitter

Image: @sydneymardigras / Twitter

Australian retail giant Kmart has introduced a series of inclusive family doll sets, and they’re flying off the shelves.

The ‘Family Playset’ dolls feature either two dads, two mums, or an opposite sex-couple, all with two children and a dog. The $15 AUD doll sets, introduced on Wednesday, have been flying off the shelves, with stores in Sydney and Melbourne already out of stock.

Online shoppers will not be able to choose which of the doll sets they receive.

"Products are sold separately and come in various designs,” Kmart wrote on their website. “We cannot guarantee which design you will receive as products are selected at random for online orders.”

Hundreds took to Twitter following the dolls’ release to offer praise to Kmart.

"Praise be to Kmart for these inclusive family pack dolls,” one user wrote. “I bought a gay male family because apparently, I buy ‘barbie’ dolls now.”

Another commented on how modestly progressive the dolls’ release was.

"Now that’s how you do it,” they tweeted. “No advertising, no social media campaigns to yell about how progressive you are. Just put them on the shelf and let people be surprised. Thanks, Kmart.”

Some commenters, however, said the dolls were unnecessary, claiming toddlers and young kids don’t see gendered family roles. Others highlighted the fact that the dolls only featured white families and relayed how they wished the dolls would expand to include other ethnicities and family types in the future.

"Well done, Kmart, for releasing same-sex family dolls sets, but note family preference can't be specified for online orders,” one user stated. “Next, we need single parent and grandparent sets.”

"Kmart, it seems, are selling white people only same-sex family doll sets,” another wrote.

It has long been shown that representation is a critical component to reduce bigotry and stigma.

LGBTQ individuals in Australia continue to face bullying, discrimination, stigma, and marginalization.

A report by the New South Wales Council of Social Service (NCOSS) shows that the high levels of discrimination faced by LGBTQ Australians compared to the rest of the population, in fact, puts them at a much higher risk of falling into poverty.

"The report shows is there are specific factors, such as discrimination, which place LGBTQ people at-risk of disadvantage and poverty and which can exacerbate it,” NCOSS Deputy CEO John Mikelsons said. “The disadvantage is often marked by spells of unemployment, workplace discrimination, and salary gaps, in spite of evidence of higher levels of education. This means they are more likely to experience a reduced asset-base to draw on later in life, poor self-reported health status, barriers to accessing some forms of healthcare, and, in some cases, to experience homelessness during their lives.”

The report names several ways to tackle these challenges.

“What we need to see is a sustained commitment from civil society, the corporate sector, as well as different levels of government to make this change happen in the lives of LGBTI people,” Mikelsons said.

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