Friday, July 8, 2016

American Girl Introduces New Dolls That Celebrate Inclusiveness & Friendship

The new Wellie Wishers from American Girl emphasize personality over ethnicity  Image: American Girl


As regular readers of this blog know, I have spent more than my fair share of afternoons at American Girl in New York City. It is my daughter Madeline's favorite shopping destination. A few years ago, the company discontinued its 'friends' dolls and with it, stopped selling their only doll identified as Asian. Needless to say, we were not happy and I rallied the troops with this piece on Forbes.com
http://www.forbes.com/sites/dianeclehane/2014/07/08/why-is-american-girl-rebranding-their-historical-line-without-an-asian-doll/#5a615842fa2f

Last year, we were thrilled when we saw that AG had added a 'Truly Me' doll that looked like Madeline and while not officially identified as Asian, was clearly intended to look like girls with the same coloring and facial characteristics as my daughter. Even The New York Post's Page Six thought so: http://pagesix.com/2015/05/23/author-happy-american-girl-has-added-a-new-asian-doll/

Imagine our delight last week when we visited the store and discovered that American Girl's newest collection of dolls, Wellie Wishers, includes a doll who also appears to be Asian. There are five dolls in the collection which also include an African-American doll and another that could be identified as Latina as well as the requisite blonde and strawberry blonde. "Each have the same big, bright wish: to be a good friend" according to the store's promotional materials. An associate at the store explained that while they clearly represent various ethnic groups, they are intended to be identified by personality traits versus race. What a great message for girls -- especially now. "I'm just happy they're not all blonde," said Madeline when we saw them for the first time.


American Girl's new Wellie Wisher dolls include Emerson, an Asian-looking doll who "loves the spotlight."



She was even happier when we spotted a doll without hair prominently featured in a display case. American Girl now makes a Truly Me doll in a variety of skin tones, faces and eye colors without hair. The company's website gently explains that they "understand all hair loss conditions are not permanent" and "should your child's need for a doll without hair ever change," they will send a free doll-head replacement. "This will really make girls who might be sick feel better to have a doll that looks like they're going through the same thing," said Madeline who seemed a bit awed by this.

Kudos to the company for making these very significant additions to their already great product line in helping little girls everywhere feel included, empowered and important. Well done!


American Girl now offers a doll without hair for those girls who may be undergoing treatment that has resulted in hair loss. Photos: Madeline Donovan



 


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