I can still remember the days when I was absolutely obsessed with American Girl dolls. I mean, come on, every girl was. For every birthday, I wanted to take a trip to the American Girl store so I could buy more outfits for my doll and get her hair done. I treated my doll as if she was my child and a mini-me. Standing in line outside the giant New York City store and finally walking into doll paradise, you saw every little girl obsessed, carrying her doll around.
As a child, I had at least three different dolls and my sister had two. With every birthday, we asked for more dolls, clothes, accessories and furniture. Every time a new magazine arrived, my sister and I would sit together and look at all the new dolls and the accessories they came with so that we could circle what we wanted and conveniently leave it on our mother’s desk as a reminder that we wanted more. However, l do not remember having dolls of different ethnicities and races. In the store, there were definitely dolls of different origins, but I wanted my own lookalike doll just like every other girl.
It is possible I do not remember much diversity among the American Girl dolls because there were mainly white dolls. American Girl, which is celebrating its 30th birthday, is embracing the civil rights movement with a new black American Girl doll. Since the creation of American Girl, the company has only released three black dolls including this new doll, and one of them was discontinued in 2014.
The girl’s name is Melody Ellison, and she is a 9 year old who grew up in the United States during the civil rights era. She is from 1960s Detroit and loves to sing. Her life’s purpose is to use her voice to make a difference. Melody comes outfitted in a beautiful blue and yellow dress, a hat and an equal rights pin. The doll will come later this summer, but the character’s corresponding books have already hit American Girl’s shelves.
In order to create the most authentic story and most positively received doll, Melody’s character was created by an advisory board made up of historians and educators. Since its inception, American Girl has worked to create characters with genuine and informative stories to teach young girls a history lesson, not just provide them with a meaningless doll. American Girl has taken the time to create a third black doll in order to be sensitive and address history in a way that is informative and beneficial to young girls.
I think creating diversity in a company like this is absolutely crucial. American Girl has created a community of girls who are obsessed with these dolls and who are inspired by the different American Girl characters. These dolls are not just fun to dress or beautiful to look at, but they serve a purpose in educating and creating an environment of acceptance. Young girls learn through the stories of these characters and understand the importance of diversity and acceptance. Creating more diversity among the characters is a mission that American Girl should continue to work toward. It must be sensitive of society today and the importance of understanding heterogeneity.
With Melody’s introduction, American Girl is making substantial and effective efforts to introduce more diversity to their customers. I only hope that it continues to make these efforts and to work toward bringing more history and characters to the education of the young girls who adore the work American Girl continues to do.