15 years ago, at the age of 10, I received my first and only American Girl Doll. I wanted a doll so bad, all the girls in elementary school had them. Of course, I wanted to be part of the cool kids. Before class started, all the girls would gather around and show-off the clothes and accessories that were specific to their American Girl Doll. That’s when I first realized, as a young African-American girl, that things were not equal, not even my American Girl doll.
As my friends were showing off their dolls and their accessories, I noticed that they had way more accessories than I could even buy (that were specific to my Addy doll). That same day, I rushed home to my American Girl Catalog, and literally counted each and every Addy accessory available to me at that time, and compared it to what was available for the other dolls (Felicity, Samantha, Molly, etc.) Just as I expected, the number of items Addy had didn’t even compare to how much the other girls had. Truly bothered, I looked up the customer service number and dialed the American Girl company, explaining in my 10 year old voice, how unfair this was and wrong it was for there to be only one black doll (at that time), and for her to only have a few accessories. Note: The second African-American doll to be released by American Doll debuted in 2011, then retired in 2014.
Granted, this was 15 years ago. Things have improved since then, but even on the American Girl Website today, Addy has among the least with only 22 items. To go one step further, of the 35 American Girl dolls to ever exist, only 8 of those dolls are minorities, or represent girls of color.
Now, let me clarify. I don’t want this to sound like I’m bashing American Girl. I really am excited that they’re becoming more diverse in introducing a third African-American doll. However, I am saddened that it took them 15 years to do so. American-Girl launched in 1986, almost 20 years after the ‘end’ of the Civil Rights Era. In 30 years, only 23% of their dolls reflect girls of color. What I’m saying is that they can do better….and I’m hoping it won’t take them another 15 or 30 years to do so.
Until Next Time,