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  • Kiara Allen

The new 'inclusive' M&M characters: Hit or Miss?

The makers of M&Ms have introduced a new “inclusive” look for their famous and beloved characters. Over the last few decades, the blue, red, yellow, green, orange and brown M&M personas have been a staple in pop-culture advertisements. Now, in 2022, the iconic characters are being urged to acclimate into a more “diverse” era.

Mars, Incorporated, which is the corporation behind the M&M's brand, announced that they would be rolling out a more “inclusive” redesign of these beloved mascots. This initiative was presented as part of a “global commitment to creating a world where everyone feels they belong and society is inclusive.” They’re calling it “All for Funkind.”

Given that these characters do not wear clothes, the changes were nothing significant. Not much more than a different pair of shoes or a new set of glasses. The most notable changes were with the two women M&Ms. Instead of wearing her iconic booties, the green character supports a pair of sneakers that showcase her “effortless confidence.” The company also said that the new set of shoes would better reflect the character’s “empowerment as a strong female.” The brown M&M also saw a change to her footwear. She now wears a pair of pumps that are at a “sensible” height. Other changes include the anxious orange M&M “embracing his true self” and the red M&M being “nicer” to his friends.

Under the redesign, the brand will track the impact of its mission while offering an array of new resources to promote diversity. “Studies show our desire to belong is as strong as our desire to be loved, and that desire is common for all people irrespective of culture, race, ethnicity, geography, or location,” the brand said in a press release. “M&M’s used this insight to create the M&M’s FUNd to track the brand’s impact on our mission, which will offer resources, mentorship, opportunities and financial support in the arts and entertainment space to help ensure people have access to experiences where everyone feels they belong.”

In practice, however, focusing on these fictional candies’ personalities over gender seems to entail stripping them of their personalities altogether, almost as if the minds behind this operation are the ones who think personality is inherently related to gender. This attempt to divorce these characters from their gender is really just reinforcing the very gender stereotypes it’s trying to subvert, as well as the narrative that gender, personality and aesthetic are inherently linked. The whole point of gender fluidity is understanding that actually none of those things are necessarily related.

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