American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Friday, November 1, 2013

AG Complaint Department: Girl of the Year: Fifty Shades of White

Notice a pattern? I sure do.
American Girl, soon after Mattel wholly took over the line from Ms. Rowland, tried a new line that, at first, was an add on to the American Girl Today line. They offered a limited edition, contemporary girl of the time with a book and local problems and issues that could relate to girls of the actual era. In 2001, they released  Lindsey Bergman, a Jewish (in mostly name and quirks only) girl who wanted to improve the world but always seemed to get in tons of trouble in the process. Lindsey was out for almost two years, and she was a very poor seller. The 2003 girl, Kailey Hopkins--an environmentalist who wants to save the ecosystems of her local tide pools--did not fare much better. But when Marisol Luna--a dancer dealing with cultural shift and moving--came out in 2005, she took off running, and AG realized they might have a good thing going. Since then, AG has majorly pushed the Girl of the Year--they release a new girl and her collection on January first and officially retire her December 31st, thus making the scramble to get her come with a due date. They have kept the pattern going for now eight years, since 2005. And so it becomes a buzz among the AG news sources and fandom at the tail end of the year--what's the next one going to look like? What's her story, morning glory? What are we getting? Who is she?

Well, Girl of the Year 2014 has leaked, and well...I have feelings, and not good ones. I'll be nice enough to put it behind a cut, since not everyone wants to be spoiled. But still.

Meet Isabelle, the (whitebread) Girl of the Year 2014.
It's Isabelle. And spoiler! She's white. Blond hair (with some sort of funky hair attachment so it's two toned), hazel eyed, classic molded white doll. And I am horrifically and disappointingly annoyed. I suspected whiteness when I saw the actress for the movie, Erin Pitt, but I was hoping before then to have something other than Mademoiselle Wonderbread the Ballerina. Then again, I can't say I've had any hope since Mia, Girl of the Year 2008 and the sneak peeks of potential brown that ultimately fell through and gave us another white doll. They've even given us a combo we already had with Lanie--blond and hazel-eyed. Ooo, but this one doesn't have bangs, and she's a dancer?

We already had a dancer, her name is Marisol Luna, and she's twice the doll you'll ever be, Mademoiselle Wonderbread.

And that's pretty much what we've gotten from the limited edition line. White girl after white girl after white girl, with a spot of color here and there--but often with a spoonful of whiteness to make the ethnicity go down. I'm starting to feel like a Disney Princess fan1 over here--we get a spot of color here and there, and that's it. I mean, look at the line so far. Really. We've had: Jewish White, White, Latina (specifically Chicana), Japanese/Scottish, White, White, White, (with besties White and Half South Asian minimally), White, German/French/Hawai'ian/Japanese, White, White. And that's ignoring the skin tones laid out by AG--if we go with that, we've have two mediums and a dark, and the rest has been "light."

And now we have White. Again. And the fandom is making the same old excuses from the same kind of people who don't ever look critically at what American Girl is doing and has done. I've seen the same shit before:

"It's marketing. AG is going with something they think will do best." (Because the only thing that will ever sell to white people are white dolls, because white people do racist shit.)
"They want to tell a story that can be accepted by all people, not just about one race." (Because that's all that people of color are about, their race. I've never told a single story my entire life that didn't talk about being a black person.)
"Girls want white dolls. They're just more popular." (See the first thing. And have you ever thought why white dolls are more popular? Could it be--hmm--white privilege? Racism? Survey says yes.)
"But there is variety in the line!" *list of hair and eye color combinations here* (Twenty shades of white are still all white.)
"You have some dolls like you already, stop whining that there's not enough minorities, you've got Addy and #26 don't you?" (Fuck off into a bowl of glass shards and Legos. Don't throw me your scraps and expect me to be content with them while you take the majority of the pie.)
"Stop making this a race thing, it is you who are the racisms for pointing out racisms." (Join the other person in that bowl of Legos and glass shards. In fact, you get in first.)

And that's before you point out that most of the dolls have had light hair and/or light eyes, with the noticable exception of Jess and Sonali. They can't even bend over enough to do brown eyed brunettes that are white, much less a doll of color.

This is bullshit. There have been thirteen years and twelve (plus two) Girls of the Year. And in those thirteen years what have we gotten? Repeated whiteness.

We have not gotten a single full blooded Asian girl2, sans Sonali who only gets a toss off that her mother is South Asian (but no mention of her father so for all we know she's half white by canon), and who isn't even the main character but a companion who switched sides from one to the other. There has never been a black girl, a Native American girl--to be blunt, poor Kaya's the only canon Native American at all--and only one Latina girl, who was released years ago and who had her controversy about moving from a "bad" neighborhood to a "better" one dismissed by the company. There was more outrage that Gwen was a $95 "homeless" doll than the fact that a historically Chicana neighborhood was being called bad to live in. And given the locations that have been chosen, it's like the Disney lineup, where the last few princesses have been placed in locations and fantasy realms that allow the excuse that PoC wouldn't have been there so "historical accuracy", bullshit as it is, gets thrown around. But AG doesn't even have that to fall on for the GotY.3 Fuck me, Saige's story was set in New Mexico, a state with a high Latino/Chicano population. But we got a red headed white girl--oh, but they so generously gave her a black Latina best friend in the movie.

All the excuses are just that. Excuses. The nasty hard fact of the matter is that out of twelve main characters, only one has been a doll of color without being mixed with white--and if we count the half white girls and Sonali, the Companion to Chrissa, there's been four. 28.5 percent. That's all. All the rest of the dolls have been white. There was more variety in the Girls of Many Lands series, and the line only had eight dolls and lasted about three years.

Girls of Many Lands: More diversity in three years that the GotY have had in over a decade of releases.
This pattern of white character after white character is racist by American Girl. And they don't have to do it on purpose for it to be racist. Racism is not burning crosses and back of the line and "I'm better than you because I'm white." Racism is a institution in this country that gives whites privileges and respect over any other race--nowadays, in very subtle ways that it's hard to open other people's eyes to and make them see. It's whiteness as normality and everyone else as the other. And you don't have to intend for it to be racist for it to be racist. As my friend has put it:
Racism is not in your intent.

Your intent is immaterial in how racist your actions are.

This isn’t about you BEING a racist. It’s about you DOING A THING that is racist.

Your intent doesn’t change it. Your ignorance of its meaning doesn’t change it. It’s got nothing to do with you as a person and everything to do with the meaning of your action in the context of sociocultural history. ~Moniquill
And in the context of sociocultural history, this is another racist action by American Girl. It is white privilege in action. It is American Girl, overtly or subtly, assuming that white characters are easier to push and sell and want than any other race they could do, and then using that as a fall back. White privilege is finding doll after doll after doll in a line that's supposed to cover all cultures, to show that the contemporary is part of history too, and have over 70% of them be white. It is another white doll. All the so called "market research" and "universality" (don't get me started on the idea that white people are universal in stories but people of color are niche) and bullshit is dancing around the fact that it's a form of institutional racism to yet again have another white doll. We live in a society where I'm expected to accept stories about white people and around white people as universal and applicable to everyone, but stories about people like me, or dolls that are like me, are niche one offs that white people and their little white children can't understand and accept and that they would prefer whiteness.

I won't be buying Isabelle. Or any other doll from AG that isn't a new doll of color, or any GotY that is white. I haven't bought a doll directly from AG since I got Shanna, to be honest. And I'm holding to that, and if I thought it would have any influence, I'd write them saying as much--but as a person outside of their target audience, I'm not going to have much push. I'm not going to lie and say I won't buy parts of her collection for Marisol, because I likely will. I like ballet, and ballet likes me. I'll get the books and read them, because I get books for dolls I don't ever plan on getting. But the character herself, and the doll? Can miss me entirely. She's not even worth it for the meet outfit. 

Maybe next year, people like me will finally be someone worthy of being a Girl of the Year. Optimism is hoping for ethnic variety in the GotY line for once.

Reality--racist, painful reality--is getting just another white doll in a sea of vanilla.


1 Oh wait, I'm one of those too, and no, I don't give a fuck about Frozen. I'll be missing that too.
2 Jess by canon is half white and half Japanese. Kanani by canon is 1/2 white, 1/4th Hawaiian, and 1/4th Japanese.
3 As far as I'm concerned they don't have it as an excuse to fall back on for the historical line either. There have been people of color in the US since before there was a United States.


ETA: Some examples of why the lack of dolls of color in AG--and any other doll line--is a sign of racism, and affects children more than people would like to play at.

This is a video that contains an updated version of the Clark Experiment. (You can find more and more examples on Youtube.) The summary of the experiment is that children--generally very young children, no more than eight years old and often in a preschool age range--are shown two dolls with no difference between them but one being black and one being white. The children are asked their perception of the dolls, with no goading or directions. Simple questions such as "Which doll looks nice?" or "Which doll is dirty?" or "Which doll is most like you?"

Time and time again, children of all races and all genders and all societies reveal a clear bias--a heavy preference for white dolls. Again, these are not adults. These are children young enough that when people want to dismiss racism, they claim that children this young aren't or can't be affected by race. Over and over, children of all races see the black dolls as ugly, mean, bad, and dirty and say it is because the doll is black. The white dolls are seen as clean, pretty, sweet, and good--often just because they're white. Heartbreakingly, black children will say these things without skipping a beat--and then, when asked which doll looks like them, will hesitate before reluctantly picking the black doll, or may go as far as to pick the white one. Black children--and many children of color--are internalizing this self hatred of race at young ages, believing that "white" is better than them.

And this experiment has been done time and time again, with the same results coming out over and over. These results, when released, showed the innate effects of racism on children so blatantly back in 1939 that it was considered reliable evidence for the dismantling of segregated schools. And you want to tell me that dolls--even AG dolls--have no effect on a child's self perception. Miss me with that bullshit. 



  1. I'm white, and I think it's just wrong that the Girl of the Year line has been around for 14 years and there haven't been any black dolls. Saige was a real missed opportunity. New Mexico is about 2/3 minority, that would have been a great opportunity for a Latina or Native American doll. So was Lanie, that author would have been perfect for a black GOTY. As I said, I'm white and I think there should be at least one black GOTY by now (and a fully Asian GOTY, and more Latina GOTY, and a NA GOTY).

    1. Thank you!! There was only a black doll goty friend when Sonali came. But she was Indian!!! Being African-American, I only have 5 JLYs to choose from. Even if there were to be a black American girl doll she'd be 1/4 black 3/4 white!

  2. I'm soooooooo bored with the white/blonde/classic mold dolls. I won't be buying her either! I would just love a little variety! And another dancer? Why? Marisol is awesome we don't need one! Is there not one person in the whole company with an ounce of creativity?!

    And none of that takes into account how I feel about the racism. COME ON AG!!

    1. I agree!!!!! Like seriously AG, did it take u any thought at all? Dancer, negative. Another blonde, negative. White as usual, negative. Why doesn't AG let us come up with brilliant ideas!!!!!

    2. IKR they need 2 come out with a black swimmer or basketball or soccer player goty they need a unique one and they should use the addy facmold

  3. Ok. Let me preface this by saying I live in the very heart of the Bible belt, not as deep into the deep south as you can possibly go, but pretty deep there. And there's something I'd like to see in the GotY.

    I want to see a POC who lives in the same region of the world that I do, who has to deal with the racism that still runs rampant in this part of the world. I heard a lot of really horrible racist things growing up. My father was, unfortunately, a huge racist, and I hated hearing that shit growing up. I knew it wasn't true then, and I called him on it numerous times.

    But I want to see a POC in this region of the world, having to deal with problems that exist in the deep South, including racism, because even though people try to lie and say it doesn't exist here anymore it sure as hell does. Maybe people aren't screaming racial epithets, but as you said that's not the only form of racism, and I'm entirely sick of it. I hate, hate, hate racism. It just always seemed stupid to me to judge another person based on anything, skin color, attitudes, beliefs, anything.

    Actually, thinking about it, I'd like to see a POC who was of a religion not often covered in AG, living in this region of the world. Basically, I want a GotY who is an outsider but dealing with it anyhow.

    And I will never buy an AG doll directly. I did buy an Addy, like I was going to, just this morning, but she came from eBay, and there needs to be a fully Asian doll, and more Native Americans, and also maybe some people who are fully Hawaiian. I like my dolls of color, and I want more of them. I get so sick of white dolls with blonde hair, but you know that. I've said it before.

    I feel like I'm poking my head out on a limb here with how new I am to the fandom, but I'd noticed the abundance of white dolls long before I officially decided I wanted one, and thought it was wrong then too.


  4. I was disappointed, too, when I saw the leaked pictures yesterday. Another classic mold, another white straight-haired blonde, because we haven´t got enough choice of blondes with 5 GOTY (Nicki at least had that nice caramel haircolor), 6 historicals and about 18 MyAGs (including the strawberries). Eyeroll. The hairpiece is a nice idea but doesn´t really cut it for me. Yawn. (That comes from someone who just got Kirsten from ebay and loves her to bits.). I like variety.

  5. Great post and right on the money.

  6. I'm gonna agree with you. I'm white but I saved up for like a year for Addy and got so excited when she came. And I was talking to my mom and I was on a bit of a rant about how American Girl doesn't really make ethnic dolls. And I know they know they should. It makes my blood boil how inconsiderate they are.
    -AnnieKate Marie

  7. Everyone says there too many blonde dolls but what are JLY dolls made for? So the kid and doll look alike. Right?The doll line has been around since 1996 and still no dolls that look like me! Finally one that looks like me and everyone complains shes not black! They are plenty of girls that the dolls don't look like so SHUT UP that shes not black or Mexican or Asian life is not fair and little kids understand that so don't know why adults always complain.

    1. Oh aren't you cute.

      Listen here and listen good.

      1) You don't come into someone else's blog and tell them to, as you so eloquently put it "SHUT UP."
      2) I sat here and thought about building you a boat to survive the ocean of tears I'm crying for you even as we speak, but the world's smallest violins just aren't a reliable source of lumber and that cross you're nailing yourself to seems buoyant enough anyway. Boo hoo fucking hoo, toots, there was never a blonde doll that looked "Just Like You." Blonde with green/hazel eyes, eh? Yeah, pity that. There's just no blonde dolls at all, right? Huh. Lookie here. BAM. Blonde with green eyes. Bingo. Or gee, lookit this. Lanie has blonde hair and hazel eyes. So, unless you were born with pink ombre tips in your hair, you don't get to say that there isn't one that looks like you.
      3) Little kids most certainly do understand when a doll doesn't look like them and for you to say they don't is absolutely asinine. You proved it yourself with your bleating that there wasn't one that looked like you. Look at the reaction world-wide when The Princess and the Frog came out and there was finally a black Disney princess, a doll little black girls could buy and say "I can be a Princess too!" It's the same with AG and especially the GOTY line. Where's the Native doll? Where's the Asian? Where's the Muslima? Where the fuck is the doll of color that a little girl can look at and say "I'm just as worthy of being a 'limited edition' as that white, blonde girl over there?"
      4) You, my dear, are racist. I don't care if you don't think you are, or you didn't intend to be. INTENT IS NOT MAGIC. You don't get to handwave and pooh-pooh this away just because you may not have intended to be when the fact of the matter is you came in my friend's blog and told her to shut up and said racist things.

    2. THANK YOU AJ! I could never have actually wrote what you just did, so thanks for writing it for me.

    3. "Everyone says there too many blonde dolls but what are JLY dolls made for? So the kid and doll look alike. Right?The doll line has been around since 1996 and still no dolls that look like me!"

      1) The line has not been called Just Like You for three years. The Modern dolls were originally created to give a girl the idea of creating a modern character and even came with three books to encourage that. The line was not conceived with the idea of girls making mini-clones. And there are too many blond dolls, when compared to dolls of color.

      "Finally one that looks like me and everyone complains shes not black!"

      "They are plenty of girls that the dolls don't look like so SHUT UP that shes not black or Mexican or Asian"

      Don't come into my house complaining that I'm talking. And if you're only getting or like dolls that look like you and you're white? You still have a myriad of choices to pick from, even among AG. Children of color get one, or if they're lucky, two options for a doll that looks even close to them among most doll lines. A modern Native child? Has no one other than Kaya as a canon character, and otherwise has to rely on the modern line.

      "life is not fair"

      Racism isn't pretty.

      "and little kids understand that so don't know why adults always complain."

      Little kids of color also understand racism, and are affected by it daily. Next time you want to spew racism, hold your tongue lest someone cut it out with a knife.

    4. Um, Isabelle will be the eighth doll with green eyes and some shade of blonde. At least. Let me see here:

      The pie banged blonde neon green eyed doll from the PC days;

      #21 - hazel eyes, honey blonde curly hair;

      Mia - hazel eyes, honey blonde layered hair, freckles;

      The army of platinum blonde, honey blonde and regular blonde dolls AG churned out after Mia - there are at least four I am aware of;

      Lanie, GOTY 2010;

      Caroline, the newest historical.

      I find that AG has made plenty of green eyed blondes. I say this as a blonde with green eyes. AG has just now gotten around to making a doll like you? Hardly.

    5. Thank you, AJ. That girl up there god. I mean, I'm white, and when I was growing up, there were fifty billion blonde dolls, and it pissed me off. Because I wanted a doll that looks like me too. And you know what? Black children and native children have that right too. You're being a martyr, and coming into Neth's blog and telling her to shut up just shows your ass. You just made a fool of yourself. I'd donate my violin for that boat because I'm adding to AJ's river of tears, but I'm too busy playing it for you. Learn to check your privilege
      Also, AJ. Have a cookie.

    6. You're right. It is sad that girls know life isn't fair. That's why in the Clark Experiment, girls have settled with the fact that they just will never be looked at as pretty, nice, sweet, and clean. They have settled because society has given up on them.

      And your selfish ass is just happy you got someone like you.

    7. Lolz. Even if you were born with pink tips in your hair, you would look like Isabelle.

  8. I agree as well and yes, I am white, and yes, I have 2 blond haired blue eyed daughters, but that doesn't mean I want all their dolls to look like them. Because all their friends do not look like them. I feel AG is shying away from real issues girls deal with. I would love to see the GOTY's story be about real, hard hitting issues. Like maybe a bi-racial girl with beautiful medium skin and dark hair and eyes, with a story about dealing with the challenges of have a mixed race family. That's real stuff! And there are millions of little girls out there with that same story. I would also love to a GOTY that is dealing with learning she was adopted. This is something my youngest daughter will be dealing with one day and I don't really care what color she is. This is an issue with girls of all colors. Although the issues AG covers are important, it seems they stay away from the real, hard issues that girls are dealing with. Race, bullying, self esteem and yes, adoption. Like you guys, that's just my take on it.

  9. 'as a person outside of their target audience'
    This sums it up for me. Everyone sharing the same opinion you have, is going to be ignored, because even though there are adult buyers and collectors, they are not the target audience. The girls are. AG knows that they only have about a 4 year window (from about ages 8-12) where they are going to be able to work their magic on these girls. So they make GOTY who look just like them, or their friends. Who do the same activities a lot of girls do. Then after 4 years things start to repeat because it's new to the girls just joining the AG scene.

    Truth of the matter is darker dolls don't sell as well. AG is in business to make money at the end of the day, despite their causes, and their attitude towards girls being the best they can. Until minorities are on equal footing through the middle and upper class in spending on AG dolls, there will be no change.

    And just so you know, I was really disappointed with Isabelle. I think she's really boring.

    1. "Truth of the matter is darker dolls don't sell as well."
      Is there any actual reasearch done on this, any real statistics? Not anecdata/assumptions. I see this argument repeated over and over like it's gospel and nobody cites any sources to back it up; I'm genuinely curious.

      I live half time in the UK and half time in a racist backwoods european nowherecountry, where 80% the time doll releases imported here only include white dolls. This of course applies to Barbies and such as AG obviously isn't a thing over here. Occasionally the asian and latina dolls are imported I'm guessing this too is because -someone- in a position of power is assuming black dolls won't sell. But, you know, racist country. (and no, this isn't a matter of "there are no black people in ____", that's just a laughable argument, but many people use it anyway.)

      Nethilia, thank you for the insightful post as always. :)

    2. Truth of the matter is darker dolls don't sell as well.

      Receipts on this please?

    3. I made a post on my tumblr (fyeahamericangirl) the other day that, among other things, talked about how in criticizing AG product you do have to keep in mind the target audience. What I said was something like "if you dislike a set from the standpoint of the collector and not because it presents an inherent disadvantage to the girl playing with it, you need to chill because this isn't here for you." And when people whine about not liking an outfit or accessory set because it's too trendy or in their opinion costs to much or whatever, this is generally my reaction. But this problem DOES present a disadvantage to the girls buying GOTYs. It normalizes white kids into thinking that everyone should look, sound and act like them, prolonging problems with racism, and it marginalizes children of color and makes them think that they and their people aren't important enough to receive attention from the people who write these stories and make these dolls. AG shouldn't be having to justify their choices in this regard with "market research" and "what will sell". It's the GOTY and people are going to buy it regardless. She will move units and sell out on Black Friday or Cyber Monday just like every other GOTY since Marisol has, because the exigency model is a thing. They should be making their choices based on their company's stated mission- to help young girls of *all* sorts learn to love themselves and shine as who they really are.

    4. "Truth of the matter is darker dolls don't sell as well. "

      This is because of racism, plain and simple. White people won't buy or actively discourage their children from getting non white dolls, and shy away from them their selves. Children of color see character after character portrayed as white, and very few representations of self.

      It's a racist loop. Dolls of color don't sell because white people avoid them, and then when dolls of color are not produced, they don't get purchased, and they throw their hands up and go "Well, that's just business, the free market, blah blah blah" as if there's no race involved at all. If I have fifty-eight choices, and fifty of them are a variation on white, then I don't have an open pool of choices. If you are a white person who pushes your child away from dolls of color, you are perpetuating racism--and as I said above, racism is not in your intent, it is in your actions.

      There is a target audience, yes. But that target audience should be assumed to be more than just white people.

    5. This. And AG's marketing and development is just getting lazy. Playing it safe will eventually backfire. Companies must innovate and change. That's business 101. (says the Business Admin major).

      Its getting old, seeing the same white dolls with blue/green/hazel eyes and some shade of blonde. Never brown, Seldom auburn. And hardly ever not white.

      My wallet will be safe next year. I've always wanted an excuse to save up for another handbag. Now I can.

    6. I must say that I was surprised to see that darker dolls don't sell very well. Maybe I'm shopping in the wrong places. You cannot buy what is not there. When a new doll is released, how many are white and how many are of darker complexion. Because they don't make as many darker complexion, it means that we have to try and get to the store when they are first released or we are stuck disappointing your child and coming home with no doll or making your child happy and coming home with a white doll. I refuse to come home with a white doll, so my daughter get no doll. I'm assuming you do not have this problem. Unless you can walk in my shoes you cannot make that statement. I'm I racist, yes. When you come to my house you will see every color of doll except white. My parents only brought me white dolls when I was a child and I refuse to have another white doll in my house.

    7. They don't sell well because Mattel doesn't MAKE them sell well. Which African American doll, I wonder, has pretty clothes, lovely collection, and relates to modern girls? Oh Cecile, and her collection is mediocre and she shares it with a white girl.

      I'll tell you what sells well, GOTY. But is there any black girls there to prove that if they made a modern black girl, she would do way better than Addy and Cecile simply because she's modern? All the modern white girls do better than the historicals. If they were to make an African American doll next year with the same care and attention they gave to these white girls, they could sell it well.

      This is why I respect MGA maker of Bratz dolls. Their biggest selling doll is Yasmin, the Mexican/Jewish (inspired from the CEO's daughter, who is Iranian), and Sasha's Star Styles doll was big because they gave her attention and CARE. They have more minority looking dolls than they do dolls that are white. They discontinued all their blonde dolls except Cloe. Even the blonde triplets...

      But then again, the company is run by someone of the "minority", so you can see where he leans...

    8. Ok, I have some news. I hope this will cheer some of you up! Goty 2015's code name is COCO :DDD And what was Isabelle's code name? Blanche! Blanche is white in spanish, and this girly's is COCO! So our dreams might come true! They begin filming in July in BUDAPEST (sorry, I'm hungarian and went to Budapest PLENTY of times :P) Coco's friends are Maddy an artist, and Ella a math whiz! The plot line is that they try to save Coco's grandparants' ice cream business (eh). I know all this from the AUDITIONS. ~♥Hope

  10. I'm being optimistic and hoping that the reason they don't have a non-white doll as the GOTY is that whoever they're planning on to replace Molly/Emily is going to be non-white. Of course, that optimism could be entirely unfounded.

    But yeah, if that's truly her, I won't be getting her. I have two dolls - a Samantha who is old enough to vote and a 55 who is a just like me doll, but if I ever get another doll, she has to have at the very least a different face mold or skin color, preferably both. This one is not appealing, though I do agree that I will be looking at her collection to see if any of it calls to me.

  11. Can I also point out the lack of micro-braids and cornrows and the salon? I do mini braid in all of my Josefina's hair all the time, and would love to be able to go cornrows on her. As of now, my fingers have no talent for such a thing. I would do it on Addy instead if I could find a rescue for a decent price, but Josefina's is my only option right now.

    1. I also read this article the other day: http://beadsbraidsbeyond.blogspot.com/2010/12/open-letter-to-american-girl.html

    2. Dear Juliet -- I read this article too, just now, and I noticed something that I would like to discuss with someone, but I don't think Nethilia's blog is the place to do it. Is there anyway I could send you a private message?

    3. Sorry this so late! If you somehow are still waiting for a response, I actually don't know how to do any sort of PM. I would prefer not giving out my e-mail over internet, but if there is a way you know of, please let me know! Because I really have no idea how.

  12. The dark skinned dolls do not sell as well, and yes, AG has the receipts on that. Bottom line, the color they want is green, for the money.

    It's long past time, however, for AG to do the right thing, and get an AA doll in the GOTY line. They had to do it with Addy, and with Josefina and Kaya. They had to do it because it was the right thing to do even though they were not and are not ringing in the sales with those dolls as they have with most of the white skinned dolls. But it's down right wrong that a dark skinned girl who loves the AG line can't look at the line up and see any of them in her coloring. The message it sends is bad.. All we can do is send them strongly worded letters, maybe to some of the media that watches these things and maybe some writer with a wide audience can run with the story as they did with an expensive homeless doll, or a doll moving out of one neighborhood to another, implying one neighborhood was better than the other, and shame them into doing something about the situation. But from what I gather, the sales have been so strong in the last few years for GOTY that they are what are driving AG's rise in revenues. Takes a lot for a company to move away from that/

    It's even worse than you position it, by the way, in the GOTY line. I don't think there is even an AA character in the books.

    1. Again: Dark skinned dolls don't sell as well because of racism in society. It is a racist feedback loop of people not buying dolls of color, and then less of them being made, which means less of them are purchased. Not all racism is overt--in fact, most racism perpetuated today is the subtle kind that uplifts white privilege at the expense of people of color.

    2. You hit the nail on the head there. I agree fully.

    3. Yea, black HISTORICAL dolls, which if you look at American Girl receipts, none of the historicals do well. But do those receipts of dark-skinned dolls include GOTY? Oh, wait, no, they NEVER TRIED IT.

      Funny, how dark skinned dolls don't sell, but also don't have COMMERCIALS. How can a doll sell when it isn't given promotion? I just saw a Caroline, Saige, and Isabelle commercial. I wonder where the commercials for Marie-Grace and Cecile are? Addy? Josefina? Kaya?

      Yes, they want money alright, money for the doll they mostly prefer themselves.

      Addy didn't sell, not because she was just "black", but because she had a more practical collection and plainer clothes, similar to Kirsten. Dolls that are more glam will sell. Since most blacks in the past had little, you can't expect it to sell. Kirsten didn't sell like Molly and Samantha did either.

      Cecile and Marie-Grace were clumped together with a small collection, on an experimental basis, in a time period that wasn't even a time period (Yellow Fever epidemic Era? Please.)

      What other examples? None of the other dark dolls are given promotion. They need to be promoted so people will buy them.

      It goes two ways. Yes, girls aren't buying dark dolls, but Mattel isn't promoting them either. So how can girls buy a doll they don't know anything about?

      We saw just the opposite coming out of the Bratz dolls. Yasmin outsells Cloe, and all of their blonde dolls except Cloe have been discontinued. But guess who promotes his favorite doll? The Iranian CEO and that's Yasmin. She's his preference because she looks like his daughter. Mattel's preference is blonde and white and what they think will sell to white kids, their own kids. Not what sells to all kids.

  13. Ah, I was wondering when you were going to see the news about Miss Isabelle, and when we'd get to see your answer. What can I say... you've spoken the truth here, and if I feel just the tiniest bit uncomfortable about loving my Rosemary (fka Saige) as much as I do, even though she is (gasp!) a white girl in New Mexico, I'll just learn to deal with it. (My collection doesn't consist of just white girls, however..)

    I too that we get another blonde classic mold so soon after Caroline in the Historical department. I was hoping for an AA GOTY right along with you, because if these dolls are going to claim to have anything to do with the real girls that are their target audience, there should be one. I don't know how the stores are in other cities but here in Chicago on any given day, you will see a rainbow of little girls going in and out with their moms and grandmas: black, white, Asian, Hispanic, mixed...the dolls being offered to these little girls ought to make a rainbow too, but instead.... (sigh) I don't know what to do about it, since like everyone else, I'm just a single individual. If anyone has any suggestions as to how we can effectively make our voices heard, I'd be right on board with it.

  14. That should read "I too was disappointed"....sorry.

  15. I was hoping for a Native American Girl. Her story could be so interesting. Hearts For Hearts fell a bit short with Mosi and AG could have done so much better. From the Native American dolls available today it looks like people are still wearing animal skins and feathers and living off the land. I understand why AG will never do this. It would cost money to develop and it's really just pure profit to just rehash something they've done before. I don't think it would cost much to just reuse the classic mold and all the dance stuff they already have. It would just take a few small changes like different fabric.The only thing neverew seems to be the hair piece and I'm not sure I want a doll with hooks or fabric loops on her head.

  16. Thank you. The doll actually happens to look like me when I was a child-blonde hair, hazel eyes. Plus I did ballet. But I was REALLY hoping for a POC doll. Also, I want there to be a Muslim doll.

    My final point, as an educator-where are the girl dolls interested in science? Dancing again?

    1. It doesn't even have to be science, just something besides the usual big four of expensive hobbies that AG has made sets for pretty much continuously since AGT began (horses, dance, gymnastics/cheer, skating). A less common sport (or one that's thought of as being "for boys" like hockey or football), sewing or other crafts, any of a number of academic subjects, music whether popular, classical or folk, volunteering in any of a number of ways- any of these would encourage girls to try something they've never done before (and maybe didn't even know about before "meeting" the new GOTY). And for the most part, they'd provide just as much opportunity for accessory sets.

    2. Your comment on folk music makes me realize just how much I would love to see a doll who does contra dance. I mean, the clothes could be so great --big swishy skirts everywhere!


  17. "But in white is yet another color. In white there is green. But this is something you will never say." -Han Ong

    ...I'm tempted to put this on a shirt. For me AND for my dolls.

  18. i agree 100%. i am white and yes i will tell you first had, people where i live( in the south) people are racist and intolerant. i was hoping for a doll of color or a redhead for the goty 2014., i mean for real,its not just race. even ideas are being recycled, and very lazily so. like you said, Isabelle is the 2nd dancer goty. when i first heard about saige, and heard that she was going to be an artist, i flipped! but when she was released, i was dissipointed to see yet another thing focusing on realism. why cant there be a girl who leans more to toon style art, or sculpting? or crafting? or sewing? these are all forms of art. and nobody should tell me that realism offers more play sets to make. if saige leaned more to say, toon style, they could have had a notebook and pencil set, a drawing desk and chair set. maybe even a real working lamp for the desk, a color pencil and marker set, and a crap ton of pens and sharpies. i feel like american girl is once again pandering to their mostly Christian conservative white audience. like you said, there was more controversy about Gwen being homeless that Marisol's neighborhood being called dangerous to live in.

    1. The controversy of Gwen being homeless was played up to the hilt because of the irony of an expensive doll being so poor was what the media seized upon. They found AG is a very uncomfortable spot and just skewered them, mocking them. That one can buy little street urchin paints and sculptures that cost a mega fortune was just ignored. The author of Marisol's book really took the calls and criticism that he got for that move situation really hurt him personally. He wrote some essay on it, that reflects his thoughts. Frankly, if he had just made the towns fictitious in name, he wouldn't have gotten the flak. No one likes to be told they live in an area that people want to move out of for the sake of their kids, especially when they have kids living there. Even if it's true.

      This new AG doll is primed to sell, baby! Hot pink tee, ballet, dance theme. Pink dips in the hair with an ombre. Fair as can be with blonde hair,green eyes, and light skin. She's the bomb for the little girls, and they drive the market. Even though the co dolls idea failed with Cecile and Marie, I really think AG is going to have to do something like this with GOTY, because it's down right shameful at this point to leave out dark skinned dolls in such a coveted line. It's flat out saying to girls of dark complexions you aren't good enough, pretty enough, worth while to feature as a Girl of the Year. I think it's enough,more than that< and I hope that groups get on their case, not just a bunch of single complainers. The NAACP, and other such groups should start yelling and yelling loud. This is really something that hurts a large segment of children, people, and there is no reason something not be done.

      And, yes, I'm not touching Kanani or Saige because of the insult in picking what they did for those locales. Kanani should have had brown eyes and black hair. Saige should have had Indian, Hispanic background. And not even ONE AA girl shows up in the stories, that I can see. Anyone see them in the Saige movie? 4 girls featured and not one with dark skin, just some cafe au lait there, and the book depiction of Gabby is even more watered down. Check it out yourself. Yes, shameful.

    2. @ Catherine:

      The only blackness in the Saige movie was semi-accidental, pretty much--the actress playing Gabby is a black Latina, so it can be half assumed that the character is black Latina. That's it.

  19. I agree with what you say. I also wish that they would make a new African-American face mold.

  20. " I suspected whiteness when I saw the actress for the movie, Erin Pitt". No kidding. With what the casting call asked for, and a quick look at Erin Pitt, it was not any surprise that this was going to be a blonde ballerina. I mean, even the code name for the doll "Blanche" was pretty much a give away. It was just a matter of what eye color and face shape, and, yes, you got it. The only color in this doll is in her hair tips and those are pink. But I'll bet she sells gangbusters and revenue will go up again next year for AG. They were rewarded for their choices in Mckenna and Saige with $s. Look at those sales figures. Until they go the other direction, and you see the GOTY going on Jill's Deals and Steals. like the last time AG put a doll of color in their line, you aren't going to see any change from a winning money making formula. Heck, even the pink dress and blondish hair, bluish eyes couldn't save those dolls from New Orleans from filling up the warehouse and not moving, and yes, the white one has better numbers than the darker one, though neither are making projections.

    If you look at the Saige book illustrations, Gabby doesn't look anything like a black Latina, so the casting crew was what brought that into the picture, not the AG specs for the character. I believe the movie producer is AA. But that is pretty pathetic that they can't even bring in AA characters out of all of those GOTY stories. Sonali is not AA, though dark. THink about it, not even one--check out the books. I think Isabella has an AA boy playing a role, Kolton Steward, but that's about it. Gonna be a lot of blinding pink and white in that movie too.

  21. all these people saying (in so many words) that white, blonde dolls are "just more popular" need to check the eBay sales of dolls like Kanani & Sonali, which (from what I can tell) typically sell for higher prices than the Lanies and Chrissas of comparable quality.

    of course, part of this indicates scarcity in the 2ndary mkt, which suggests they maybe didn't sell well initially, but at the same time, it shows that there's a demand for dolls like these (ie, dolls of color that are MUCH more than the same old white classic mold mayo sandwichness).

    --my 10 pence

    1. This is SO true. In January, I purchased Saige NRFB for $160. Last week I purchased Kanani only in her meet dress and underwear, nothing else, but still in amazing shape for $275. There is most certainly a higher demand for DOC.

  22. I am new to AG and I keep hearing dark skinned dolls don't sell blah, blah, blah. How do they know this? If you go to the AG online store and go to the MyAG page there is a drop down menu on the upper left that has sort by
    "most popular". When you select that option, two dark skinned dolls appear in the top 5. At least with website sales in the MY AG line, both brunette and dolls of color are represented in the top 10 of sales. Why is this not mentioned?

    1. Hmm...I wonder why more people don't try to look at this...dark skinned dolls appear in the top 5, and I know plenty of girls who own a dark-skinned doll.

      I used to be one of those people who said blonde dolls sell better, but no, when reflecting on Samantha's success compared to Kirsten's, I'd say they cater to the blonde dolls making them sell better. Probably looks like one of their kids.

  23. i dont wanna buy this doll. she looks to much like lanie! and come on! i love addy shes sooo pretty!!!!!! * falls in love over her sight!* i consider sonali a goty and omg shes beautyful! black dolls do sell pretty well! i mean look at agtubers they even spend over 200 to get a black doll from ebay! so no one better say they dont sell well! i'm a white woman sure and i own every black doll made from ag! ( which is silly to me)

  24. First, I'm just going to say that I'm white, I'm blonde... and when I saw the leaked pictures on Doll Diaries, I groaned and thought, "Seriously?! ANOTHER blonde?!"
    So, if one counts Gwen and Sonali as GOTYs, this means 6 out of 13 dolls have been some shade of blonde (counting McKenna and Nicki, too-- they qualify as dark blonde). That's practically half. Sheesh.

    And to all the blonde, green/hazel-eyed girls who are squealing about "finally" having a doll that looks like them: Please, there have been multiple dolls with that coloring, as one of the above commenters noted. Sure, maybe they didn't have hair cut exactly like yours or whatever, but if you want a doll that looks that identical to you, get a My Twinn. Also, if you're so thrilled about "finally" having a GOTY that looks like you, think about all the Black, Hispanic/Latina, Asian, and Native girls who would love to see a GOTY that just shares their race, even if she doesn't look exactly like them.

    A side comment on Saige: I seriously felt like she was a missed opportunity on AG's part. Don't get me wrong, I think Saige is a lovely doll (I'll admit that I have a weakness for red hair), but she SHOULD have been Latina/Chicana. If she had been a lovely, olive-complexioned doll with the Josefina mold and long, wavy dark hair, I totally would have bought her. While I was glad they had used auburn hair again (that IS a color they haven't used a lot), I felt she should have been saved for a different story in a different setting, and I ultimately left Saige at the store.

    Sigh.... So, here's hoping that 2015 will FINALLY bring a Black GOTY. I'm half tempted to go to AGP when Isabelle is released and ask to get the starter collection-- but ask to substitute MyAG #47 instead of Izzy. #47 is right smack at the top of my AG wishlist, and her character would be a dancer anyway, so all the ballet gear would be right for her. Mostly, it would just be interesting to see how they'd react. ; )

    Thank you for another witty, insightful post, Nethilia! I've really been enjoying your blog. Keep it up!

    --Kate : )

  25. Goty15 is already in the works, and I'll bet a century note she doesn't have dark skin. Maybe GOTY16 if some mean pressure is brought to bear on AG. AG just will say "no can do" when you ask to substitute 47 or any other doll for GOTY. Not going to make any impression that way. They are used to substitute requests to deny there. Most of the sales staff is clue less about these sort of issues.

    1. Darn (about the swapping #47 for Izzy thing)! Ah well-- I can still stock up on ballet stuff for her, at least. : )

      --Kate : )

  26. I'm Asian, and it always irked me how there wasn't ever any AG characters that were fully Asian. I mean, they all have to have a parent who isn't Asian. I think it's really sad that they don't also have characters that are fully Asian. I also have some Japanese dolls like Licca-chan, and she isn't completely Japanese either. Her dad's French. In the name of diversity, there isn't anything wrong with having children from parent of different backgrounds, but still, there seriously are also children in the world who have two parents who are non-white from the same background, and they aren't represented particularly well. I still have to admit that I'm a little guilty in that many of my dolls are white. You got me thinking, and I really need to do something about that. I think, growing up, there are lots of little insidious ways that this problem of racism gets into people. Black dolls (or Asian ones for that matter) are seen as a niche product. I buy dolls that I connect to, and having many white options increases the likelihood that I will find one that I connect to. If there are more black dolls (and more diversity of black dolls), I think I would be more likely to find one that I really like. I also think AG needs to realize that although it is clear that they have realized that white people come in many diverse looks, black people, Native Americans, Asian people and others are no different. There are more than 50 shades of black, yellow, and red and our hair and eyes comes in all sorts too. They really need to start on that because I really want a black doll like I had when I was little, but I don't see any that I am particularly attracted to yet. In my psychology class, I was told that many studies found that if one does not see different people of different races when they are young, they often have difficulty telling people of those different races apart. Some people say that all black people look the same or all Asian people look the same, but it's really not true.

    1. Ivy is fully Asian. I'd would have liked to have seen her with a darker complexion. Kanani with the medium complexion would have been nice with black hair and brown eyes. What is this with avoiding dark Asian dolls. Most of the world is Asian and those Asians mostly have black hair, brown eyes, medium skin tone. Nice to give us Sonali, but no almond eyes there, The medium skin toned dolls tend to be caucasians with tans. I'd like to see some dolls with some features strongly identified with the race, all the way through. Then start playing around with gradations. AG is futzing around with all the gradations and not getting on with it with the Asian dolls. Love what they did with Addy, Josefina and Kaya. GIve the Asians the same respect.

    2. Thanks, I forgot that Ivy was fully Asian. I agree with you.

    3. AFAIK Sonali is meant to map as desi, not east Asian, which would probably explain why she doesn't have the almond-shaped eyes

    4. Addy, Josefina, and Kaya were all before Mattel fully controlled the company. It was originally started to teach history and those dolls showed this more.

  27. Alright.

    I'm just going to say something. An idea.

    Just a thought....

    Why not they make a GOTY for 2015 be... Native American? (As for her name, how about a name that begins with L or J. Such as Laika, Jade, Leigh etc.) And maybe she lives somewhere like in Minnesota, Ohio or Alaska? (Or any other state that is generally cold.) And she plays a sport that is mainly "male" such as snowboarding or hockey. She will have a friend that is 100% Asian, another, African American. So maybe her story is that she moves to South Dakota because her parents want them to "celebrate more on their family heritage". So ,of course, Laika (or whatever the FUCK her name will be) she's not excited. But... soon she discovers how awesome her Native American-ness is.


    It might just solve all our problems:

    1.) A Native American Girl Of The Year.
    2.) A chance to do what they did with Chrissa. Having two friends, both of different cultures and heritage. So maybe her Asian friend is Chinese and she celebrates Chinese New Year, doesn't wear shoes in the house and other things like that. And her African American friend can have accessories and outfits for Kwanza and other shit.


    3.) I am TIRED of GOTY DOING GIRLY SHIT!!! No offence, but another dancer? Gymnastics? Ice skating? I just can't... I am not saying that those are mainly girly. And I get it, I get it. "These are sports that girls can really relate to." Even though a sport like hockey isn't as much relate able to girls as dancing is, it will show people that, "Hey. Girls can play guy sports. Not all GOTY dolls have to wear nail polish and wear dresses and glitter."

    4.) We all want a NA GOTY. So.... yeah.

    5.) Light or medium brown skin. Brown eyes. Long black/brown hair. (Maybe a Sonali mold??) I am done. (PLEASE AG. DO THIS!)

    This is just an idea. And maybe she can learn REAL life lessons.

    For example:

    Maybe at first she thinks honoring her NA culture is just stupid and she wants no part of it.

    Also, maybe Laika has a older brother that gets severely injured in a snowboarding accident or something and she is having trouble getting over the fact that he's back in another state injured and she has gone away. (Maybe they are like. Ubber close.)

    Maybe Laika sneaks off to do something. As in, she sneaks out of the house to see somebody or do something that is "important" and the police get involved. I don't know.


    (Sorry. I just want it to happen.)

    I'm tired of these namesy-pamesy stories. Oh No! I hurt my ankle and I can't do gymnastics and I'm failing school so I have to get a tutor! Oh No! I now have to do a song with my friends in order to raise money for my school! Come on.

    This is just what I think AG should do for GOTY 2015.

    1. Hmm...

      E.B. At first the idea was great, but the end seems a little lacking, however. I believe that a Native American girl who is poisoned from racism would be an idea to add. Maybe this NA American Girl GoTY, grows up in a generally white town, barely spots of color here and there, and she grows up thinking that Whites are better than everyone else. Maybe she doesn't appreciate races as much as she should. So, back to your idea, she moves to South Dakota because her grandfather died [or something among this line] and he was a Native American chief or something, someone important to the tribe. At first, the GoTY isn't so excited about this and refuses to live at the NA camp and drops from the activities, but soon realizes race is important and embracing where you come from is too?

      Or... Another idea...

      Maybe GoTY 2015 SHOULD be as stated before, here.:

      "I want to see a POC who lives in the same region of the world that I do, who has to deal with the racism that still runs rampant in this part of the world. I heard a lot of really horrible racist things growing up. My father was, unfortunately, a huge racist, and I hated hearing that shit growing up. I knew it wasn't true then, and I called him on it numerous times.

      But I want to see a POC in this region of the world, having to deal with problems that exist in the deep South, including racism, because even though people try to lie and say it doesn't exist here anymore it sure as hell does. Maybe people aren't screaming racial epithets, but as you said that's not the only form of racism, and I'm entirely sick of it. I hate, hate, hate racism. It just always seemed stupid to me to judge another person based on anything, skin color, attitudes, beliefs, anything.

      Actually, thinking about it, I'd like to see a POC who was of a religion not often covered in AG, living in this region of the world. Basically, I want a GotY who is an outsider but dealing with it anyhow."

      I feel these ideas are beautiful.

  28. Nice, different ideas here but AG is rolling in the dough with their namsy-pamsy stories. Each GOTY is selling better than the next so they are on a roll, baby. Look at those Mattel numbers and the break out for AG sales. Beating out Barbie even. So the formula isn't going to change unless something happens to force it. Not likely there will be a Chrissa repeat because it bombed. Gwen made a laughing stock out of AG and Sonali did not sell. That's why she goes for so high now. Not may of her out there. So controversial and color not likely to happen unless it's colored tips on an ombre which this new girl's gonna have. The color AG wants is green, baby and the dolls are going to be the color that brings in that green.

    1. Well, then what we have to do is force it. Somehow we as a fandom need to call mainstream media attention to the underrepresentation of minorities in this and other AG lines (I did some math the other day and the number of blonde white girls in the AGT group is something like 300% of what would actually be genetically likely in a group of American women that size)... that way maybe they WILL be looking at a financial or just plain public embarrassment motivator to set things right.

  29. I completely agree with you. AG is supposed to be supporting "American" girls, this should include the entirety of the melting pot that America is. I'm white, with blonde hair and green eyes, and I'm over this look and the lack of originality. I wish GOTY dolls actually faced real issues and had variety. When I was a child, my best friend for my birthday gave me a black doll and I absolutely loved it! I also would love to get Addy, and think Cecile is absolutely gorgeous. It's sad that it's just about being such a big seller rather than really celebrating all girls.

  30. If I remember correctly, some 1/4 of the world is is Chinese. I hope someday AG opens up their eyes and makes dolls of every ethnicity in proportion to that of world population. Some of the most beautiful dolls are not white, like #26, Josefina, Kaya, #4, and so many others. I live in mostly-white area, one of my friends has darker skin but I do not think of her as less beautiful than anyone else. There is evidence that AG looks at message boards, I hope they see how almost everyone wants a black doll. I think I remember reading how GOTY really caught on with Marisol, and I think that says something right there.


  31. I am a 25 year old "mixed" ( 1/2 black 1/2 white) female and I just wrote American girl and email about their lack of ethnic diversity literally 3 days ago. This is the email I received as a response:

    Dear Ms. Brown,

    American Girl® values your comments. One of the major goals of American
    Girl is to portray American girls with honesty, integrity and historical
    accuracy. We intend to continue researching new characters so as to
    include as many ethnic diversities, eras, and backgrounds of our country
    as possible. While we continue to conduct research into new characters,
    it is important to remember that this is a lengthy process.

    In order to ensure that all of our characters possess the integrity and
    accuracy that has become associated with our products, we need a minimum
    of three years for our Product Development team to research and develop
    new American Girl dolls.

    Although we do not currently offer a doll with the combination of
    features you are looking for, we hope you will continue to watch our
    website for new developments to this product line.


    American Girl Customer Service

    Okay, I understand that product research and development take time, but, I've been an American girl customer since I was 8, and I'm still waiting for a "Girl of The Year" who tells not only my story but the story of so many others like me.It doesn't take almost three decades of "research and development" to create a doll who's ethnic background reflects the melting pot that America is and has always been. maybe if they are bombarded with enough concerned customers, the tide will change, but until then, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed for a Black GOTY AND a "Mixed" GOTY. I am however a little excited for the baby step of progress that they made with Cecile and her story. Oh and I am also really disappointed at the 2014 GOTY, when I saw that leaked picture you posted I just kind of grumbled groaned and "AWWW manned"

    1. Definitely a form letter. Look online for Mattel annual report. 2012...doll of the yr...a a big part of the American girl already big profits. Their other mainprofit was from the lavish American girl stores located in upscale malls.

      AG dolls are a cash cow for Mattel...theyve strayed from their much better and partly more racially integrated vision.

  32. I like your page. I found it by accident while "researching" my kiddos favorite toys, and after viewing the AG FB page off and on for the past year, I was happy to find that there are adult collectors with a sense of humor (here not there). Here is what I think. After being given a JLY doll by her grandmother, my daughter became obsessed with AG. She picked Molly as her second doll because Molly had glasses (how interesting!). However, she is an avid reader and, in the first grade she read all of Addy's books and loved them more than any other books she had ever read. Therefore, logically, she had to have Addy from Santa. She later wanted McKenna, but she tired of McKenna and sold her. McKenna annoyed me anyway because she was a great athlete who had trouble in school. Hmm. We need a character who knows how to use the new science set. Addy remains her favorite doll out of 6 total, and I must say she is a beautiful doll with awesome clothes. But my point is, while my daughter isn't racist, I have a sneaking suspicion that given the abundance of white doll choices, she would not have chosen a black doll had she not connected to the character through the stories. Which is why I support the idea that a black GOTY would sell to girls of all backgrounds - because they will know this character through her books, movie and prominence in the catalogs. Obviously AG cares only about the bottom line but, if they did this right, it would go over well for them. Or at the very least they could have one bad year and then say they tried and keep an ethnically diverse fan base alive for having tried.
    As a side note, I agree with the previous poster that little fans have a window of about 4 years in which to be at the height of their adoration of plastic doll people. My own daughter dances ballet in an intense program geared towards professional dancing and she will be thrilled with a dancer - she was way too young for Marisol (doesn't even know about her) and as mommy has to buy 4 dolls per year (bday and xmas for two kiddos), the ebay prices are too high. We will buy this new one, and perhaps even feel guilty at our luck that she has the same passion and eye/hair combo as my daughter, even if she is bound to be missing the part where she is awesome with science/technology/school (again - some children relate better to giftedness than poor school performance). But we'll buy the first black GOTY also, as long as she gets here before my girls are on to bigger and not better things - cell phones and boyfriends.

  33. I completely agree with you! When I saw the first set of leaked pics of Isabelle, I was very disappointed that AG had decided to use a Caucasian, blonde, Classic mold-faced doll AGAIN. I have nothing against Caucasian dolls, but there comes a time in which AG really needs to stop repeating the same cycle over and over again, and do something different for once.
    I especially mean this for the GOTY line. If AG is going to come out with a limited edition doll, shouldn't they, I dunno, make her a bit more UNIQUE? I understand that there is only so many combinations AG can do before dolls start having similarities, but come on, AG! You can do a much better job than THIS! If you take off a McKenna wig and put it on Lanie's head, you'll pretty much have Isabelle right there. I'm sure the designers for AG dolls can come up with something much more creative than that. Heck, I think even I can!
    But overall, what disappoints me the most is that AG is not making enough GOTY dolls of different races. I think it's about time we had an African American GOTY. Or another Hispanic doll, since Marisol has been the only Hispanic GOTY as of now. Or what about a Japanese girl? AG, get it together please.
    I'm not going to buy the Isabelle doll. If her outfits and accessories are any better, I might buy those.
    Also, lol at, "F**k off into a bowl of glass shards and Legos"! XD

  34. Hi Neth! I just wanted to take the time to say I enjoyed reading this blog post! Even though my family is from all over Europe, my dad is significantly darker than my mom. His skin tone is similar to the milk chocolate Hershey bars you find in stores. My dad and my mom get judged as having a mixed-race marriage, with my dad being considered "black" and my mom being considered "white." I'm English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, and Scandinavian on my mom's side, and on my dad's side I'm German, Italian, and Yugoslavian. Often times when I was younger, I wished that I could've been African American or Asian or a Latina or a Muslima, because I thought everyone of those cultures deserved to have their time in the spotlight. Each culture is important. Each person's personal background and history is important. Educating people on the topics of racism and ethnicities, the importance of education for young women and girls in developing countries, AIDS and HIV education, the education of people and their disabilities (I'm deaf and wear bilateral cochlear implants to hear, and I hear just like everyone else does), and adoption and foster care here in the US and overseas. Malala Yousafzai, Nina Davuluri, Elizabeth Catlett, and Sadako Sasaki, are all my heroes. Feel free to look them up! Malala is actually coming to my college to talk about her experience and what she went through as well as promote her book on campus. I had two dolls of color and I sold them to friends who really wanted them and would take great care of them. My last doll I plan on getting is #47 and naming her after Malala Yousafzai and Nina Davuluri. I was going to get Isabelle, but now, I most definitely won't. Thank you for letting me see your blog post! I also want to end on this note - There is only one race of people, The Human Race. There are different ethnicities, not different races. We are all one race - HUMAN. We are all different ethnicities - the types are numerous as the stars of the heavens. I hope one day people who are of different ethnicities can see that they're just as perfect, wonderfully created, and fearfully and lovingly made as God made them to be. (Sorry I am showing my beliefs here but I think its absolutely true.) Whites shouldn't have power over the world. The world is made up of people who are far more important because of the power they hold over others. Whites should not hold that power. Other ethnicities should be equal to the power whites have, if not greater! I know I am European White descent, but I have more love and more pride in other cultures than I do my own. Other cultures have accomplished far more feats than whites have in their entire time on Earth. I would go more in detail, but then it'd be an extremely long reply!

    Thank you for your time and everyone's comments (except that whippersnapper who was extremely racist and rude) have been nothing but fantastic!

    1. Thank you for your comment. There's just some things I'd like to address, because while your heart is in the right place, some things you said are actually offensive to a black woman like me.

      I'm English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, and Scandinavian on my mom's side, and on my dad's side I'm German, Italian, and Yugoslavian.

      ...so all European, and not PoC at all. Your father is not black. Eastern European is not black, and your family is not mixed marriage.

      Often times when I was younger, I wished that I could've been African American or Asian or a Latina or a Muslima, because I thought everyone of those cultures deserved to have their time in the spotlight.

      Being PoC is more than just enjoying your culture. It's dealing with the oppression and marginalization of being not of the dominant culture in Western society, something that happened to me from a very young age. It's not a comfortable place in society to be a PoC. White people have their own cultures and should realize this as such.

      I also want to end on this note - There is only one race of people, The Human Race. There are different ethnicities, not different races. We are all one race - HUMAN. We are all different ethnicities - the types are numerous as the stars of the heavens.

      We are all human, with our own races and cultures. And we are all of different races. Race is a social construct, yes, but it is a powerful one and it should never be dismissed. My race contains my culture, my perception on life, and my history. Ethnicity is something else entirely. Colorblind views, heartfelt or not, imply that the issue with race is that we're just letting petty differences get in the way of assimilation, and that we should all dissolve our cultures to become more like the dominant one--and in the US that means white. Historically it has been such that people of color or unique ethnicity have been pushed to whiteness, have been pushed into assimilating (see the book How The Irish Became White, for example, or the horrific idea of Native Schools that stripped Native people of their culture.) Please don't remove my blackness in colorblindness.

  35. They are just trying to make money. They are trying to appeal to their biggest buyers, and they probably have a survey or some sort of way that they can see what ethnicity is the one that is buying the most merchandise. We don't know what goes on behind the scenes in their corporate offices. Plus, their target audience is young girls. It seems to me most young girl dance, or at least the ones I knew. I'm a dancer myself, and I'm blonde. I don't have hazel eyes. I have blue eyes. It really just depends on what your preferences are. I have a thing for blonde hair and blue eyes. My first 4 AG dolls all had blue eyes(Kit, Kirsten, Nellie, and Chrissa). My 5th had blonde hair and brown eyes(Gwen). I am so excited for Isabelle,and it's probably because I am a white, blonde dancer. Do I think that they should have more dolls of different ethnicities? Absolutely yes! Do I think that they will sell as well as the 'classic' AG doll? Most likely not... To me, it's sad...

    1. They are just trying to make money. They are trying to appeal to their biggest buyers, and they probably have a survey or some sort of way that they can see what ethnicity is the one that is buying the most merchandise.

      Still racist to act like white people are the only ones looking at their products. Using green to hide behind whiteness is still racist, just like with Disney. Money's not an excuse. Marisol was the first one to sell heavy, and she wasn't white. Meanwhile, Saige's ass, last I checked, was still in stock. As for surveys--they can check demographics all they want, but ignoring girls of color in this changing culture is on a path to ruin. At most, they occasionally ask people in private, but they don't track my face when I buy.

      We don't know what goes on behind the scenes in their corporate offices.

      I don't have to watch someone make a chocolate bunny to know eating it will put me into anaphylaxis, and I don't have to sit in on Mattel's office meetings to know that so many white characters and so few DoC in a country with changing racial demographics is some bullshit.

      Plus, their target audience is young girls. It seems to me most young girl dance, or at least the ones I knew. I'm a dancer myself, and I'm blonde. I don't have hazel eyes. I have blue eyes.

      So because you live and have been in a majority white world, you override PoC? No. How many of the people you danced with were girls of color? Do you think people of color don't dance? Did Alvin Alley and Marisol miss your views entirely? Survey says yes.

      It really just depends on what your preferences are.

      We are not a society in a vaccuum. A lot of people's so called "preferences" are influenced by racism and racist thought from a young age. The reason that dolls of color don't sell "well" is because white parents and white children think they can't ID with people of color, and so they don't, and the dolls of color are dismissed as not working. A white doll doesn't sell? All kinds of excuses. A DoC doesn't sell? Must be because she's not white, let's white out the line again! Miss me with that shit. It's a cycle that started with racism and the idea that people of color are niche and white people are "universal."

      Learn from this, and don't stupid out again.

      P.S. I don't care about your dolls or your excitement for some more mayo on toast dolls. You are part of the damn problem.

  36. I thought Saige was really boring. People just go nuts like mindless trolls because it is the "GOTY." AG will probably make the most money on this new GOTY in 2014 - simply because the in-parenting thing is to enroll your daughter in dance/ballet class nowadays. I'm a white mom with two black daughters, age 10 and 7. I almost want to toss the catalog in the trash when it arrives after January 1. We love looking through it together, but not only is there a lack of a black GOTY, but the models in the catalog and on the AG website are 90% white. It seems to sell the Bitty's/Twins, AG will use a black/hispanic toddler. I would like to see at the very least, black girls aged 8ish-11 years old, modeling the clothes, and playing with the dolls. So not only can we not have a Black GOTY - but we can't even play with the dolls in the advertising. It's discouraging.

  37. Your right!We need more different skinned dolls!Seriously AG!

  38. Thank you for your blog post. The video of the Clark Experiment was heartbreaking. My daughter is gag gag over ag dolls and I have definitely noted her preference for the light skinned dolls. I tried to steer her towards choosing a doll with a different face and color but she was dismissive and adamant in her choice. Many PC people allude to the 'color-blindness' of children and claim it isn't an issue in their houses. But merely not speaking of a persons color (because we are 'colorblind') makes it seem like a forbidden & therefore probably not a good thing in the mind of a child who's whole world is alight with learning the names of colors and numbers and everything else under the sun. When grown-ups omit certain facts children are quick to pick up the cues that it shouldn't be spoken of or that it is wrong or bad. So many small thoughtless acts of racism and it starts early even if it's not intended. Any child should be able to walk down a toy store aisle and feel that they are represented, that they are beautiful the way they are. Omission is a statement, AG.

  39. Love your post! I'm so sick of it, too. I mean does American Girl need to be the same as Barbie? It seems like the company has chosen to take a sharp dive into the same mold as Barbie. There are so many different types of beauty these days. I could of handled perhaps a Native American, Latina, or mixed race doll with curly hair and dark brown eyes. While I do like Saige in that her skin is not pale, pale white and her hair is red, but Uhhg-- how predictable American Girl!!

  40. Have you heard of MARKETING? SUPPLY AND DEMAND? It's about what sells not peoples feelings. This is a business venture. Grow up! You don't like capitalism? MOVE! See if you can find a country that cares about your trivial whinning. In some countries you could be stoned for non-conforming attitudes and actions.

    1. Well, aren't you just so charmingly ignorant and insulting. You're certainly due for a verbal stoning. You don't like free speech? MOVE! This country was built on revolution and standing up for what you believe in. Everyone is entitled to speak their minds...even stupid people, ahem. I can't stand that people pull out the 'MOVE!' whenever someone dares speak out. Without speaking out, we'd be speaking the queen's English, working outlandishly long hours, children would still be losing limbs working in factories, segregation would be in full swing, Jim Crow alive & well, strange fruit swinging from the trees, women wouldn't be able to vote and on and on.... Who are you to say a person should MOVE! because they feel strongly and speak their mind? You don't have to like it, but keep your 'MOVES!' to your ignorant self, please...

    2. "have you heard of Marketing and supply and demand?"

      That was the first topic I addressed, try to keep up with the class. Leaning on "marketing" is saying that the only thing that will ever sell to white people are white dolls, and they can't handle anything else. And white people perpetuate the shit because they act like dolls of color aren't worth their dollars.

      And why should I move from the country that I've lived in my whole life and that my family can trace back to the time of the Civil war or so? (But no further because racism.) Because you don't like the idea that maybe AG should be for all Americans, not just white girls? Wait no, that's stupid.

      Oh and, "In some countries you could be stoned for non-conforming attitudes and actions." No shit? I didn't know that--only, you know, that shit needs to change too, not be a weapon to tell me to shut up.

      Aren't you a charming little bigot, go crawl back in a hole and next time use your real name.

    3. A Bigot? Because I think a business has a right to produce and market what sells? Now who is a bigot? You have no idea of my ethnicity so throwing out a race card is the real show of ignorance. No need to reply as the fact that you throwing out the race card means there is no chance of a reasonable dialogue. Because I don't agree there must be something wrong with me? Again, grow up.

    4. Yes. You are bigoted, just like AG is, by hiding behind marketing as a reason for racist practices. And I don't have to know your race to know that you're sipping, as we say, on the kool-aid of white supremacy. Really, race card? When it comes to the race game, the white ace trumps the black queen every time if society is any confirmation. And yes, there is something wrong with people who would rather hold up white supremacy rather than give true diversity. Did you think I'd say otherwise?

      Now how about you fuck off into the atmosphere while grown folk are talking.

    5. Anonymous, you're getting damn, damn close to the ever-popular telling the black girl "No, it is you who are the racisms!" and I suggest you stop. Yes, defending the (bad) choices of a company who claims to be "diverse" while actually being anything but is bigoted. Telling a person of color that they are throwing out the "race card" so you can weasel out of discussion is bigoted. Telling someone to "move if they don't like it" is bigoted. So basically... yeah, you're bigoted. Either learn how not to be, or find somewhere else to be a shitstain.

    6. For some reason, I laughed really hard at the white ace line, if only because ace is another word for asexual, which means I'm totally a white ace. XP (I know it was selected because it's the most powerful suit (or I think that's why), but I just found it super funny.

      More to the point, I've agreed with all the sentiments here.

    7. Heh. I know the terminology of ace as in asexual--have a few buddies who are--but didn't even think about it.

  41. I really agree with this post. I am not a fan, but my daughter is interested in their dolls, and I can't believe they just keep producing the same dolls. And, the dolls that one can 'design' just aren't as much fun, for children who like a narrative. I intend to send a complaint to them, which I am sure they will ignore.

  42. To anyone who doesn't believe that kids notice..many years ago, my friend's daughter "noticed" that all of the black AG's and their accessories were always in the back of the magazine. Yesterday, I saw the disappointment on my granddaughter's face when she saw Isabelle. She asked me why there wasn't a black AGOY. She is 9 years old and has been barely touched by racism...until now! Thanks Mattel.

  43. I appreciate this post. My friends and I were having this same conversation at the girl of the year reveal. The American Girl experience seems to only include white American girl's. My daughter is a proud owner of Addy, and My American Girl #31. While at the reveal my daughter noticed that a lot of the white girls were holding black dolls (Addy and My American Girl dolls Addy molds). She commented that white girls like black dolls too why can't they make a Black Doll of the Year. It got me to thinking that maybe because my daughter doesn't fit what an American Girl should look neither should my money support your business.

  44. I'm white, whiter than white, world's palest skin considering a large portion of my heritage is Native American. It's because I came out with red hair. Us gingers (well I'm now strawberry) come out nearly albino. My sister got those nice tan skin genes. So let's be honest, the closest AG has ever gotten to my skin tone is when the transitional Felicity dolls started getting that grey tint. My dolls look like they've been to Cancun in comparison to me. So imagine my grandmother's shock when I wanted a #1 AA JLY doll as the second AG I wanted. She was off put by it. She poo poo'd that really quick. My parents blamed it on her generation and bought me a really cool poseable black cheer barbie that year so I didn't push the issue with my grandma. I've always liked a wide variety of dolls. My grandma bought me a JLY with blonde hair and blue eyes and I made her take it back and get me the green eyed and brown haired one instead because I thought blonde and blue eyed was boring. Even Barbie, a mattel company, came out with the SIS dolls and they seem to be doing really well. I bought 3 of them myself. I even customized a Fashonistas head by rerooting her with textured hair and giving her all over tiny braids because I couldn't seem to find one like that on the market and she's one of my prized dolls in my collection. So by saying that white girls can't relate to black dolls or don't want to play with them is a cop out for AG. I grew up with an all white family, in the suburbs where there was only one black family and one adopted asian child at my school and yet at 9 years old I still wanted a black doll. It's not the kids that are forming these opinions, it's the media, the parents and society in general insisting girls ONLY want dolls that look just like them. However we aren't even giving black girls the option of having a doll that looks like them with a cool character. I was stoked when Kit came out with hair, freckles and eyes like me, but did I want a whole bunch of blonde dolls after that? Hell no. I wanted variety. Stop making the same damn doll AG. I would have settled with another dancer if they had made her at least the slightest bit different. Even Asian, Inky's an asian dancer. Her back story kicks so much more ass than anything AG puts out. I feel like I learn a new thing about a different culture every single time I go on that blog. Plus she has two moms and as a bisexual person in a relationship with a girl I find that awesome. They aren't putting out any "different" characters at AG. The hearing aids and bald dolls are a nice step, but those are both things that have to be special ordered. Come on AG. The next two dolls I want are either a 31 or a 58 because I haven't decided if I'm going to be good enough at keeping 58's hair in good shape and Ivy who I'm making into Mako Mori from Pacific Rim. AG lost out on me because had they released a GOTY who wasn't a blonde clone and instead a PoC I would have been tempted to not only buy her for myself but for my "niece" (family friend who is half black half filipino and really wants a doll like her). I mean damn, she came from DC. One of the US's most diverse places to live. STOP GIVING US LITTLE BLONDE BITCHES MATTEL!

  45. When American Girl first came into being and people pointed out there was only three white dolls, did Pleasant Rowling preach that ‘I aim to be diverse’ and continue making white dolls? No she didn’t. She promptly made Addy, then Josefina, then Kaya; and they were beautiful and sensitive to the cultures they were portraying. When she left, Mattel wasted no time cutting off the historical line entirely and focusing on their precious Today line.
    Even as a child I used to complain about how the company changed, and I’m a white kid with a Samantha (hate when people say “girls want Samantha because she’s the pretty one.” Um, if you'd asked me which doll I thought was prettiest, I’d always have said Josefina, hands down). Fact is, AG can’t spread a message of diversity and not be diverse. They need more more dolls of different skins, religions, eye colors (have you noticed how hard it is to find dolls with black eyes?), and history (even that line has started to worry me; with Mattel deciding they couldn’t sell the beautiful Cecile without a white counterpart, and then deciding to have Julie as the main 70s doll and making the VERY much needed Ivy into a sidekick. I loved Caroline as a character but her presence really made me fear Mattel’s gonna ruin the historical line just like they ruined Today).

    1. Correction: Kaya was made and released by Mattel in 2002, two years after Pleasant Rowling left. The Today line is not the problem. Racism is.

  46. Question...how come a much smaller toy co can put oou a multiracial doll line... But toy GIANT Mattel...
    Has to regress back to mostly Nordic white dolls?

    Playmates toys gives great value for its ten multi racial..cultural dolls..which cost LESS than one fourth of American girl dolls.

    And their small books cover issues more important than. ...the school art budget (Saige's big issue. As Doty 2012)

  47. Current Afghanistan doll Shola 25$. Current mixed race Creole Lauryce and Native American Mosi also $25.

    Current American Girl Isabella starts..at $120.

  48. I agree with the majority of your well written post, but I somewhat can sympathize with the girl who mentioned that Isabelle is the only doll that looks like her. Just like dark skinned people, light skinned girls all look different from each other too. It seems like you expect every girl with blonde hair to already have a lookalike doll on the market, but saying that is like telling a dark skinned girl that she looks like one of the dark dolls for sale too. Everyone is different, and you have to pay attention to all of the little beautiful details of a person - what makes them truly unique. Not just group them by hair or skin color.

    1. Hair color is not diversity. Eye color is not diversity. The character is still white. These characters are marketed as white. It might really suck (not really) that some little girl doesn't get a doll with her exact hair color and eye color in American Girl, but black and Native Children, for example? Have never been represented in the Girls of the Year, and Asian children have barely been looked at. Complaining that no one in the pie is exactly you when 75% of the pie is already white is self-centered mess. Just because you don't have your exact looks in a doll doesn't mean that we I've already heard the argument that there weren't enough blond diversity in AG and that we need to go through every shade of white before we go to anyone else, and fuck that opinion.

      So, to turn another fandom ref, have a sarcastic boo hoo that no Disney Princess looks just like your exact shade of blond and medium blue eyes self, when all I have Tiana and she came around when I was nearly thirty. It's shitty to claim that your shade of whiteness isn't perfectly represented when children of color have almost nothing.

    2. "Hair color is not diversity. Eye color is not diversity."

      ...which is complete bullshit, because if that was the case, I could've gotten ANY of the light-skinned dolls (especially one of the many blondes, LOL) as a close representative to one of my loved ones. But no, the only one that comes close to fitting the bill is #25. You'd be amazed how AG often forgets that black hair+brown eyes and Caucasian complexion isn't mutually exclusive from one another...so yes, while the glaring lack of an AA GOTY is much more of a problem than us "whitebread" girls not having an exact match to ourselves is, it doesn't mean we can't be slightly annoyed at the fact that there isn't much diversity amongst the Caucasian dolls either. But I guess any opinion that's even slightly different from yours is invalid, right? Fuck my opinion too then, I guess free speech is only reserved for you.

      I'm done now, this is only the second time I've visited this blog, and I'm certainly not interested in being treated like crap like some other people have, just because their opinion wasn't a point-for-point match to yours and they weren't even being rude to you. But I'll probably giggle with amusement if Google ever accidentally brings up a new post from you and you're BAWWWWing because they've finally made an AA GOTY and somehow screwed it up. Diversity? Yeah, okay! [/sarcasm]

    3. P.S. I'm not the Anon that you replied to. However, I wouldn't be surprised if she isn't interested in maintaining a discussion with you if you're going to treat her like absolute crap.

    4. So long, farewell, make sure the doorknob doesn't hit the stick up your ass on the way out.

      I guess free speech is only reserved for you.

      This I am not: The US government. Don't come in my house, spit on my floor and then get mad when I bean you with a shoe and throw you out.

      On the plus note, your white girl tears should keep my skin velvety smooth for the next four weeks. Thanks!

  49. WOW! On the nail! Right on it!

    May I borrow the Clark Experiment video for a blog of mine? Much appreciated. I remember that, but I forgot what it was called.

    I also think it's bullshit when people say "blonde dolls sell better".

    Looking back in the 90s, before American Girl Today took off, the only blonde in the American Girl's collection was Kirsten. But Samantha outsold her on every level. Why? Obviously because Kirsten had plain clothing, braids, and a practical-looking collection. Samantha had the pretty hair, lovely clothes, and tons of elegant and quality accessories. That shows that they can sell a brunette, and it proves to me that they can sell a minority much the same way.

    It's evident that American Girl gives more care and attention to their blonde, white dolls (and really all of their white dolls) more than they do their minority characters. Their minority characters have drab accessories and hardly any interesting wardrobe choices. Even Cecile was clumped together with Marie-Grace, and the collection was just a piece of shit! Where are the music accessories that match their voice lessons in the story? Then they just basically neglected them. Caroline has a commercial on television. How many minority characters have a commercial on television? They aren't even promoting these dolls!

    Their own subconscious biases are creating institutional racist acts. Bet you the majority of Mattel's company is white, and they probably prefer blonde.

    I'm also not buying Isabelle, not only because she is just another white blonde, but because she is just shit slapped together again from out of Mattel's ass. Really, another dancer? They couldn't come up with anything more original? No, they had to "perfect" the back story of Marisol, the minority. Marisol was the perfect dancer character. Couldn't they have made a chess player or something? And they expect us to pay MORE for this girl, just because she comes with a hair piece! Uh, no.

    Disney Princesses? I say attack of the Barbie. If I see one more blonde doll with hazel/brown eyes I will just scream. Not to mention the number of My American Girl advertisements...All of the brunette and dark skinned girls are advertised without variety. You don't see black girls with bangs, pigtails, none of that.

  50. I would say they are not in love with the black race at all. I feel they don't think the Black Market will buy enough Girl Of The Year Dolls to meet their financial goals for the year!!! I would love to meet a black person working in Customer Service, but, only Older White Women who think they know everything about Black people. It is all a joke. American Girl made in China and very over priced.

    1. AG, like 90% of everything, is made in China. Welcome to the New Age.

  51. I'm glad I found your site/blog. The new American Girl doll, Isabelle, is a Barbie doll. I liked these dolls for my daughter because they were i) NOT Barbie dolls, ii) look like little girls, iii) not princesses. The woman who runs the Mattel division of Barbie has been running American Girl since Mattel got rid of all the original AG staff who made the AG dolls special.


    I looked at the AG site and 7 out of 10 dolls on the page are blonde.

    I wish they would accept feedback. I'd love to see a doll who was born in another country. Whose parents moved here when she was a baby to get high tech jobs. She is "American", but from say, an Indian (Asia) family. Grandma and Grandpa have come over from India to help care for the kids. Grandma wears a Sari and cooks killer curry. What is life like for a girl with one foot in modern U.S. and the other in her native country. She is expected and does excel at school, but [some obstacle I can't think of]. Also she goes back each year to visit her family in India. What a rich and exciting potential!

    This could be China, an African country, Brazil, Russia, Thailand, Egypt etc. etc. I really like India because my daughter has some girls in her class born there, but with the situation I describe. STOP with the blonde Barbies already!

    1. The new American Girl doll, Isabelle, is a Barbie doll.

      I have nothing against Barbies. They're all right dolls and using them to smear AG bothers me.

  52. Note to Amanda above. My daughter "inherited" all of her dolls from my friends daughter going off to college. There is a cute doll of the year she got, Jess. She is Japanese and Scottish. Her parents are archeologists. She has a kayak and explorer-type accessories. She is in South America somewhere while her parents dig. She is cute, but would also be nice to have a just Japanese doll with her own story. Plenty of history for that.


  53. You have good points, except not all "whites" are racist. Sometimes African-Americans can be, too. I have Josefina, and like her. Sh'es a good doll. I am starting to grow out of AG, and when I found out about GOTY 2014, I was disappointed. AG wants dyed hair now?!!!!!

    1. except not all "whites" are racist. Sometimes African-Americans can be, too.

      I am not the place to disregard institutional racism, stupid.

  54. This is so disappointing! Very nearly as disappointing that the supposedly Jewish doll they came out with looked white. In history class, we learned that American became a "melting pot" for all races and cultures. Why don't the American Girl dolls reflect that? So frustrating!

    1. Er... "supposedly" Jewish? I have a friend who's so Jewish she's from Israel and speaks Hebrew as a first language, but Rebecca has a tan compared to her (although my friend's hair is much darker).

      My friend also mentioned once that despite appearances, she isn't white. Even for a social construct, race is seriously confusing sometimes!

    2. The Jewish people I've met have a diverse range of appearances. Your comment smacks of "Well, you don't LOOK Jewish" which is Not A Nice Thing to Say to Jewish People (implies that all Jewish people look like the stereotype).

    3. I have a Jewish friend with straight bright purple hair, pale skin, and hazel eyes. On the other hand, I have another Jewish friend who has tightly curled dark brown hair, fair skin, and brown eyes. People practicing the same religion come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and combinations.

  55. I'm white, but yet I understand. This isn't ok. I don't understand why AG hasn't mad a dark skinned goty doll. I would really like to see one. I would also like to see a doll with medium skin, brow hair, and dark brown eyes.

  56. The Girl of the Year line bothers me. I started getting AG dolls when I was seven in 2002. My first doll was a lookalike (white/blonde hair/green eyes) But after that I started getting more diverse dolls. I got Nellie because of the movie then Marisol then Samantha then the fabulous Addy. I remember friends only having white dolls and their parents thinking it was so bizarre that nearly half of my dolls were of color. Now, as a college student, I have begun to collect again and continue to maintain the rule that my collection must remain diverse and the GOTY line drives me nuts. I can remember looking through the catalogue as a kid with my African American best friend and I had a million dolls that looked like me whereas she had a handful. Obviously, not every girl's dolls need to look like them or all of mine would've been blonde (my mother NEVER would've let that happen) but for a line that is supposed to represent AMERICAN Girls, they are only actively representing a portion of it. I really hope the next girl of the year is a doll of color and that they stop marginalizing thousands of girls because of their skin color. I really do love your blog though! It is so refreshing to see an adult collector who truly values diversity, as opposed to some I have seen on YouTube who have 30+ dolls and only five or six dolls of color. Of my current collection of fifteen dolls, nine are dolls of color.

  57. I will never forget the moment my mom told me (I'm as white and pale as they come) that she thought I'd like a Kirsten doll better than Addy, because "she's more like you."

    I love my mom. She's a good person. Now that I'm an adult, we've actually talked about this incident, and she admits that she made a poor choice at the time. But the moment and it's affect on me remains. I wanted Addy so bad. I wanted her fluffy dark hair and her pink dress. I liked that she was different from me. I loved her story, and it prompted me to read every book in the children's section of the public library I could find, about slavery and the civil war. But when the holiday's arrived, I was given Kirsten instead because the adults in my life assumed I'd only want or like a white doll.

    Toys allow children to act out, imagine, and explore the world around them, both as it is and as it can/should be. Unless the adults in charge of children make available a wide range of colors, backgrounds, and possibilities; in toys and elsewhere; institutional racism, sexism, and just plain boredom and sameness of thought will continue to infiltrate our culture.

    When we start to ask ourselves that painful question of who taught us to hate ourselves, and sadly, most women and girls of all colors are taught to hate themselves from an early age, let alone the additional pain heaped onto children of color, the truth is it comes from adults. Often our own parents. By its very nature, childhood is controlled by adults. Only when adults make conscious, informed decisions on how they approach their children's socialization will the whole system be turned around.

    I don't blame my mom for offering her white daughter a white doll. I understand her background and failings, and that she was really just trying to raise a child who did not come with instructions.


    Going forward, I will offer my children dolls and toys and experiences that do not merely mirror their immediate realities. Compassion, understanding, friendship, and strength come when we LEARN to relate to who and what's different from us. I want my children to welcome the diverse, interesting world outside their own skin tone and personal cultural background.

    On another note, all these same difficulties arise when we consider children's toys in general. For example, the ridiculous "boy" vs "girl" sections denoted by color and type of toy in stores. Or the myriad messages about attractiveness, body image, and masculinity/femininity those toys and clothes project. Similar too are the discussions that arise when we examine the self-degrading comments children hear from the adults around them: "My hair is too stringy/frizzy/thin/thick/etc," "I'm so fat/scrawny/pale/freckly/etc," "I'm just stupid/being stupid/an idiot/etc." It's so hard to let go of the labels that were rubbed into our brains from our earliest ages. If we don't, we just pass the burden onto those we raise.

  58. My senior year in college, I finally did buy the Addy doll I'd always wanted. I'd loved my Kirsten despite my initial Christmas morning disappointment, but when I finally had a real job and enough of my own money to legitimately afford a 100 dollar doll, I happily got Addy for myself. She's just as awesome as I'd thought she'd be.

    One final note: As I contemplate raising white children of my own, I seriously ponder and am unsure about how to at once identify and seek to change intrenched racism, and the preference afforded to my race, while avoiding the guilt of whiteness I faced in college and continue to face as an adult. I remember being in a multicultural literature class (I'm now an English teacher) and being shamed by other members of the class, for even being there, let alone participating in conversations about prominent works of diverse American literature. It is insanely frustrating to be a person (of any color!) who is trying to do what's right and engage with difficult subjects and material, only to be ignored or mocked because of a genetic code and upbringing I did not (and no one does) choose for myself. False guilt and shame for one's skin seems so useless! I want my children to be able to critically engage with the problems of both history and the present, but not learn to hate themselves because of it. Everyone's got enough problems of their own to begin with. We don't need historical skin color guilt and shame on top of it.

    If anyone's got some constructive ideas on how to achieve any of this, I welcome their input. Funny how something as seemingly simple as a child's toy has as much political/cultural effect as it does.

  59. I had a houseful of little girls (and all their friends) and treated them to AG dolls, books and clothing frequently. I let them pick them out what they liked without much of an opinion from me (white woman). I had a houseful of dolls of all colors. I don't get your complaint - whitebread Isabelle is a beautiful doll and I bet her story is sweet and teaches something. We enjoyed the books and the dolls - they are all great. Wait ... I just looked and there are no Irish Catholic gingers in the entire line of dolls. Uh ... not racist.

    I understand your disappointment - but be disappointed in the marketing strategy. All the dolls are beautiful and my little girls were inspired by the books. Use of the term whitebread is kind of disheartening and implies white people are boring.

    1. You are a white woman. So your opinion is misguided at best and stupid at worse. Wonderful, you had a whole house of dolls and treated a bunch of children to them. This does not absolve AG or you from your racism.

      I just looked and there are no Irish Catholic gingers in the entire line of dolls.

      1) Nellie O'Malley from 2004 - 2008.
      2) oh my god how HARD IT IS TO BE WHITE. Fuck you.

      be disappointed in the marketing strategy.
      You mean a marketing strategy I noted as racist by implying that white people are incapable of buying a brown doll of the year? Marketing is no more an excuse than "a product of the time." Miss me with that shit.

      Use of the term whitebread is kind of disheartening and implies white people are boring.
      Well, you know, if white people would stop being boring, predictable, and racist like this entire comment, then we wouldn't call you that.

      In summary: You are wrong and what you have said is racist.

    2. And so I don't have to edit my previous: Irish Catholic? Really? In this day and age, in the US that's basically white. "what about the Irish" is one of the most irritating, repetitive, common-ass ways white people try to use to deflect racism. We see you, missy, and we know the patterns.

  60. This is an old post but I hope you'll notice this anyway, I just noticed this post on the AG facebook page: "Hi American girl I was wondering if u could NOT make anymore black girl of the years or Any girl of the year with a disability because I like the girl of the years just the way they are"... There are not enough words to describe the ignorance of this post.

    1. ...
      ...Is that the same girl who commented on Melissa's (little girl who wants AG to make a disabled GOTY)?

      Then again, it sounds like a fairly generic AGFB comment...

  61. Thank you for this post. I have two Asian daughters and believe me, they notice that there are no dolls of color in the GOTY line. My older daughter asks me every year when AG will make an African American GOTY doll. Her favorite dolls are Addy and Josefina. My younger daughter loves Kanani because she resembles her (face mold and skin tone only - she doesn't have hazel eyes and light brown hair - come on AG!). I'm so sick of white girl of the year dolls. And guess who's up for girl of the year 2015? Yep. Another white doll.

    It's long past time for (not partially white) Asian, African American, and Native American girl of the year dolls. Come on AG, give us white parents a chance to buy something besides white girl of the year dolls. Isabelle was Lanie 2.0., Saige was Nicki 2.0, and next comes Chrissa 2.0 - stop rehashing and look at America. A great bunch of diversity to choose from and lots of little black girls deserve to see themselves in the Girl of the Year line.

  62. Hi. I am white, and, I adore the American Girl dolls. I have always wanted one, but, they are so expensive. Two years, ago, for Christmas, my son, gave me an American Girl doll. I was so excited. I am sharing this, because, I think, it would be wonderful, if American Girl, came out, with dolls, from all cultures. I really, do not understand, why most of their dolls are white. I, myself, would love to see them, come out with a doll, from Africa, India, etc. I believe, that all girls, from all cultures, should have the dream, of owning an American Girl doll, representing their own culture. It is time, for American Girl, to further their horizons, and, Create dolls, for all girls, to enjoy.

  63. What I hope this Gabriela is is a Filipino girl with medium skin, short, dark, curly (like Rebecca's but a bit shorter) hair, the Ivy (or just Jess or even #4 or even better a new mold just something not used on 70% of the dolls) mold, and dark brown eyes. She could like field hockey (which is primarily "female") and have an exotic pet (maybe... even a tarantula like mine? She's probably too young but it could teach something about not to fear them.) She'd be so fabulous and I'd love her forever and buy all the things (unless AG fucks her up of course but that would be pretty hard.) Off to go curly short wig, dark brown eye and Kanani shopping, heh.

  64. American girl is just trying to make money. And black girls are notorious for having hard to care for hair. no offense you are all beautiful. I would love to see a cultural girl of the year but if they made it a "to the books" black girl it would have insanely curley or textured hair. Similer to addy. and i know some people would buy it but there are alot of moms who would not because their daughter would ruin the doll because of its hair. I know addys hair is the only reason i have not gotten her and thats not because im racist. To be honest i think they would loose money and they probably think that too. No reason to bash them and no hate on me just stating my opinion. They could possibly make one with strait easy hair but they would most likely get people yelling at them that its not authentic. P.S. i think the girl of the year 2016 is different.

    1. American girl is just trying to make money.

      --AG is owned by Mattel, one of the largest toy companies in the world. AG is not an up and coming company that is struggling to keep the lights on and will tank if they take a risk on a doll of color. They're a multi-billion dollar company and AG is one of their major pillars of business.

      They can influence more. They can market heavy. They can push just as hard. They did with Isabelle, who had huge amounts of her collection still available after archival and who was sold at major discount at one point. Even if they lost money, it's not about money. It's about being representative of stories outside of the dominant story. Black girls are capable of dance. Latina girls are capable of art. Girls of color are capable of the same emphasis.

      And with Grace AG is taking a risk on an expensive item that likely won't move as much as anything else--it will likely burst at the start, and then taper out. If they can take a risk on a large, space-taking doll bakery, they can take that risk with a Doll of Color for Girl of the Year.

      Yes, a Doll of Color might not do well. And if she didn't, we'd probably be told that she failed because of her race--even though Isabelle did poorly even being white (her clothes were still available, on discount, the January after her retirement and continued to be heavily discounted to try to move stock) and Kailey and Lindsey did so poorly the line almost died anyways. It's been shown that DoC go well. The GotY almost died before Marisol danced in and saved the line. Kanani flew off the shelves. Dolls of Color sell.

    2. And black girls are notorious for having hard to care for hair. no offense you are all beautiful.I would love to see a cultural girl of the year but if they made it a "to the books" black girl it would have insanely curley or textured hair. Similer to addy.

      "No offense" does not mitigate the fact that what you said is racist. My hair is not hard to care for. It is different and in this white centered world overly ignored and assumed to be harder, when it just takes differnet, more proper care. And the doll with the most textured hair, Addy, has the easiest hair to care for of all my dolls. My hair and black/curly hair is not "insanely" hard to care for. It just takes more care than snatching brushes through and being lazy.

      and i know some people would buy it but there are alot of moms who would not because their daughter would ruin the doll because of its hair. I know addys hair is the only reason i have not gotten her and thats not because im racist.

      Those moms are terrible people who need to stop being racist. Your reasons are racist if they are based in racist thought, not even slightly sorry.

      To be honest i think they would loose money and they probably think that too.

      See above points re: AG is not some out of a garage struggling company that can't afford to lose money on risks.

      No reason to bash them and no hate on me just stating my opinion.

      Just because you say, "It's my opinion" doesn't mean I can't say, "Jesus flying buttplug, you couldn't be more ignorant if you smashed your head between a car tire and the asphalt." Did you think I'd suddenly go "Holy shit, it's her OPINION! Well fuck, can't correct or challenge her there, it's an OPINION! Might as well go swallow my tongue."

      They could possibly make one with strait easy hair but they would most likely get people yelling at them that its not authentic.

      There are black people with naturally or chemically straightened hair. Furthermore, harping on the hair like that is bigotry. You know who has the hardest hair to care for of my group? "Caroline." Who has long spiral curls. But you know, racism makes people think black hair is so hard to figure out.

      P.S. i think the girl of the year 2016 is different.

      It's not a one and done deal. This isn't an end date campaign where we get one girl that's not white and then are done forever. One new, possibly biracial girl isn't the end of this need for diversity in the GotY line. It's something we want to keep at the forefront of everyone's mind as much as possible.

      Furthermore, not only is a leak not a confirmation of anything, it's not the whole story. A single eBay auction is just that. A leak. It's not telling us her background, her character, or her deal. And even she might be half white, like everyone since Marisol has been. We don't just want one doll to pacify us and then another glut of white girls. We want a diverse mix, and representation, and we want more than the scraps of diversity tossed to us while white representation overwhelms us over and over. It's not reality. It's not true to have white people overshown in this country.

      Now go read my AGDoCGotY post and try not to say the same trite shitty ass excuses of racism by AG I've heard for years.

  65. "White Americans are the racial majority, with a 77.7% share of the U.S. population. Hispanic and Latino Americans amount to 17.1% of the population, making up the largest minority. African Americans are the largest racial minority, amounting to 13.2% of the population. The White, non-Hispanic or Latino population make up 62.6% of the nation's total." This accounts for the lack of race in the truely me and historical. but they do need another racial girl of the year.

    1. It actually doesn't account for shit. Not only are your numbers wrong, they're irrelevant for representation. Nearly half of today's children under 5 years old are non-white. The estimation when the US will stop being mostly non-Hispanic white? 2043. The fact people are expected to do math to justify representation is utterly ridiculous. It's stupid to have to use numbers to justify representation. I shouldn't have to beg or tweak or use numbers to get representation. It should be done anyways. It should be offered to start with, not done in reaction. Media is catching on that something is unbalanced. White people have been over represented in so many of society's stories--and not just by American Girl.

      Seriously. Nothing I haven't heard.

  66. I couldn't agree with you more! A few thoughts...
    Personally I really want a Puerto Rican GOTY.

    Addy was my first american girl doll. Yes, a 9 year old white girl had a catalog of white dolls to choose from, and she chose the black doll. If anyone thinks that dolls of color are not wanted, or will lose money, they are just so ignorant.

    Here is a happy thought because I just read so many things that made me want to scream:
    I was with my neice, a 7 year old white girl. She was coloring in her coloring book and she chose a brown crayon when she colored the skin. I was proud of her, and I really hope the world* does not change her knowledge that humans come in many colors and are all just as sweet and pretty and clean.

    (*the world, society, the man...whatever you want to call it I can't think of the perfect word.)

  67. Not all of the white dolls are boring, but all of the boring dolls are white.

  68. In 2009 before my first grandchild was born I learned she would be a girl named Samantha. My first thought went back to the AG that I could not afford for her mom years ago. Samantha had been retired so I got her on eBay and kept her until she turned 5 recently. My granddaughter's two best friends are Hispanics and look totally different and both have 2 different dolls that look just like them.So of course our 5 year old wants one that looks like her. She is very light blond hair with no bangs, parted on the side with a distinctive shade of hazel eyes. We looked at all the numbered dolls at the Miami store, all the history dolls and the current 2015 GOTY. None matched her. Most in her hair color had brown eyes or the color hair wasn't right, etc.There were plenty of options but we thought well if we are going to do this we might as well try for the closest. So I began looking at ALL older dolls. Lanie was the only one close but our Samantha has no bangs and the eyes were way off. When I saw Isabelle she is an exact match. I'll probably get her. All this to say...thus is not fair!#! There has to be a full blooded Africian American modern doll with a story! Not simply a number! Or a recent historical AA girl. One from the 60s would be perfect. Her story could be the struggle of integration with some history given about her grandparents. I was 9 during this time and lived it from the white side. What great books those could be! I really thought the new release was going to be that. And now I'm hearing the next history girl is not either. So disappointed. I still want to get beautiful Cecile or Addy for her and a true Hispanic doll. But I would love a modern AA GOTY. And it totally is not right that AG hasn't done this before. I may have to pick out a numbered doll to get her but I want a girl with her individual book and items. My granddaughter and I are bonding by reading her Samantha series and are using them to talk about the hardships her grandmother's AA seamstress and her poor white friend Nellie suffered and the unfairness of race, social and economic midtreatment. All fair minded AG fans should protest as a group with letters or petitions or boycotts until they do.

  69. I recently sent an email asking for a custom doll. I wanted a doll with light skin brown eyes freckles and dark brown curly hair. Sadly they don't do that and they offered a doll with hazel eyes and wavy hair or a doll with curly black hair and green eyes. I found this insulting since that is hardly a Truely Me version of my Hispanic American daughter. Worst was they told me to keep checking back since they always add new dolls. So I responded with the following:

    It's a shame for the price American Girl charges for the dolls that we are still unable to custom the dolls to make it "Truely Me".  The fact is I been watching these dolls since I myself was in Kindergarten and to this day now that I have a daughter of my own this company has yet to offer the Hispanic community better options for dolls.  If a company is going to use the term "American" they should update their ways.  It's is beyond annoying to see this company targeting girls everyday on Disney channel with their advertisements.  Then I like so many other mothers have to face the Mommy can you buy me an American doll that looks like me too?  And unfortunately like so many mothers in America we must either answer sorry darling we can't afford one or they don't have one that look like you.  Of course we then get asked "Why not? Well aren't we American too?"  It's a good question from a 7 year old.  It's a good question.  A question I myself asked my own mother growing up and I so wanted one of these dolls like my neighboring classmates had.  I wish I could shield my daughter from this disappointment but the reality is this is how it is to grow up Hispanic in America.  No worries though because we simply don't have to buy from such a company as this.  For less money we can buy from My Twinn and get a custom doll.  But it really isn't about the doll it's about a company targeting ALL American Girls via advertisements who yet have the means to service ALL AMERICAN GIRLS from all walks of life!

    1. My next step is to write to Disney. I am disgusted with them Advertising such a company on their channel. I am shocked since Disney has always claimed to support Diversity.

    2. I have a problem with My Twinn; since they've removed all the darker skin tones from their customization options with no signs of their future return.

    3. Oh I thought it was a glitch because when i ordered Last week sometimes when I went to the site it showed all skin tones and other times it showed only 3. I also wondered if perhaps they sold out since they dropped the price of the dolls. when I finally Decided to buy from their site they no longer had 3 dresses as an option they only had two so i thought since they jave such a sale going on they were running out of options. But I cant say for sure what it is because I only looked at their site since it was about a 2 week wait for American doll to answer my question.

    4. Amen ! "American" was supposed to stand for girls of all walks of life, yes, exactly !! And now the face for the NATIVE AMERICAN GIRL, those to whom America actually belonged before the genocide of their people, is no longer a unique and proud mold but almost insultingly is now used for a line of boys. AG is becoming disgusting.

  70. Neth, that was an awesome read !!! AND I AGREE 100% !!!! I own all the Girls Of Many Lands and wish that they had continued that line. They are gorgeous dolls too. The original goal of Pleasant Rowland was to teach. Addy is the only story who actually discusses slavery, one of biggest historical things that has shaped "America". AG is all about money now. They pretend like they are empowering girls but it's just the same old capitalistic BS that keeps the rich in power. I want to know where are the handicapped girls, the immigrants, the girls dying of cancer who are GOtY - girls who can teach courage - DIVERSITY is what this country is supposed to be all about. Do we even have a BeForever doll who was a suffragette ??? AG is only reinforcing the narratives and ideologies of the priviliged classes. I miss the Paper dolls of the American Girl magazine too. Where they went back in the heritage of girls of today. Personally, I think the shift in focus has destroyed what AG was all about.


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