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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

AG Complaint Department: #‎AGDoCGotY‬: Because Representation in AG Lines Matter

If I don't stand up for myself, who will? If not now, when?1
So, here we are in 2015. 2014 was a good year and a bad year, in so many ways. Wonderbread is out, and Grace Thomas--SnarkNamed Vanilla Buttercream--is out, with her Paris Vacation and $500 Bakery that almost no one will be getting for multiple reasons, the least of which is that it's $500. I'm going to blog about her things after Saturday when I go see things myself face to face and can take my own pics, along with the new stuff. December was an up and down month, and I plan to do a lot better at keeping up here. One is to give this blog and all my online places a lot more attention.2 A post a week is my goal again. But I ramble on. I have a point for this post, and it may not be as long as other posts, but I want to get this message out at the start of the year and keep it up all year and beyond.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The Limited Edition Doll line is flooded with a lot--a lot--of white Girls of the Year. I can't say it or blog or push back against it enough. Grace makes four in a row since Kanani. And before Kanani, the frontline girls were Nicki, Mia, Chrissa and Lanie--four other white girls. There hasn't been a girl of color at all since Kanani. There's not been a Girl of the Year, frontline, specifically named as not half white, since Marisol. That's ten years--ten years--of little to no representation. And even worse, there's been the last few with friends of color or in high PoC locations--Chipotle Mayo and Wonderbread were in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Washington D.C., respectively. And Grace has continued the pattern of a white main character with a PoC best friend: Gabi to Saige, Sonali to Chrissa (at least she was released), Luisa to Isabelle, Toulane to McKenna, and now Emma (I think that's her name) to Grace.
For Mama's sake, she's RIGHT THERE.
The Best Friends Line is dead, so we can't even get hope that the girls would come out as side characters to the main like Sonali did. We get nothing.

I am so irritated by this. I'm tired of nothing. I'm so damn tired of nothing, or flickers, or dregs.

We can't just be getting Girls of Color every four years, if that, and only with the hints of color when they do. Stories know no race. Yes, AG has pointed out the diversity of the My AG and the Historicals, and even hinted at a new AA girl in 2016. But that's not the line they hype every year. They hype the hell out of the Girl of the Year. They push and push and push--and then they give us nothing but white girls. If AG really means for us to believe that these stories are about contemporary girls in contemporary times, then they need to reflect everyone--not just white girls.

And I am going to hashtag the shit out of getting the word out about AG's need to highlight and give voice to other cultures and people. American Girl, give us a Doll of Color for Girl of the Year.

Good thing I've got social media to back me up. 

This is the tag I'm pushing:

#‎AGDoCGotY

It's short, simple, and gets the point across. If you want to use longer or more clear ones then use #AGGoTYDiversity. Or both. The point is that we want to point out all these options, all these looks, for a Girl of the Year that isn't always white.

More help and details under the cut. 

Tips for serious posting and media push:
  • We want to flood our social media with dolls of color. Sonali, Marisol, Kanani, and/or Jess--having been GotY of color--are good. The Addy mold--which has never been used for a GotY--is super awesome! Try to avoid light colored Classic Mold, and if you use Josefina Mold, try to use one of the tan ones.
  • Try to keep to AG branded dolls if you can. I love Sameera and my new Double Dutch Doll, Sascha, but we want to hit AG with AG images and AG dolls. Even if they're customized. 
  • Be respectful to detractors all you can. Argue with intelligence. If you need help, kick me up. I'm good at it, and can actually turn off the snark and be serious when I need to.
  • Try to be mature. While I'm down for Vanilla Buttercream/WonderBread in snark and here and on my blog, in Social Media we want to be taken seriously. So just call them Grace, or Isabelle, or Saige.
  • If you get Grace stuff, show it off on your Dolls of color! Show them how easy it would be to write or have the same story with a DoC. I'm tempted to customize a Josefina into a "Grace"/Graciéla, if I could get Grace's wig.3
  • from Starzz, one of the mods of AGC: include tags like #AG #AmericanGirl #americangirldoll, #AmericanGirlDolls, to help connect it to the other tags. ALSO, it seems to be common (at least on InstaGram) to tag posts w/the Doll Name preceded by 'AG', so for example, my Marisol Luna doll may be tagged as: #AGMarisol [OR] #AGMarisolLuna
  • Use the tags everywhere. Facebook. Instagram.4 Twitter. Tumblr. Pintrest, if that's your stick.
Frequently Tossed Back Statements and Intelligent Replies to Start With5:
(Will add to this as needed.)

"It's marketing. AG is going with something they think will do best."
--This is a racist statement. Race should not be marketed as something that has to appeal to the masses before it can get focus. My skin color is not a focus group. I and people like me deserve representation without having to be "popular." We should be represented because it's the right thing to do.

"They can't risk losing money on a doll without mass appeal."
--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.

"They want to tell universal stories that can be accepted by all people, not just about one race."
--It's racist to say that a story about a Doll of Color would only be about race. Josefina's story is not just about race; it's about family, love, change, and adjusting after loss. Addy's story is not just about race: it's about family, education, and dealing with hard times and struggles. Don't reduce stories about people of color down to just being about their race.

Saying that white people can't accept dolls of color implies that white people can only accept stories that focus on white people to accept the message, and that white stories are more universal than stories about people of color. This isn't true, and it shouldn't be. Children and people of color are expected to accept whites--more narrowly, white male characters--as the everyman, with all others a variant. We need diverse stories to make diversity happen.

"Girls want white dolls. They're just more popular. People of color are too poor to buy from AG anyways."
-- And have you ever thought why white dolls are more popular? Could it be--hmm--white privilege? Racism? Survey says yes.

It's a nasty loop. AG puts out white dolls, white dolls sell, they put out more. Break the cycle.

As for the poverty thing: First of all, that's terribly ridiculous to go to. Secondly, if you insist on bringing up poverty, I will bring up the history of why so many demographics like blacks, Native people, and Latinos are poor in the US. Hint: It's racial oppression and denial of access to the finances that whites have had throughout US history.  

It doesn't take a lot of us skipping out to put a dent in finances. They only get what we give them direct, and without representation a lot of people are skipping over Grace and skipped over Isabelle and either going to other companies with diversity or going with more diverse dolls.

Furthermore, you think very little of white people if you think they are incapable of accepting a doll of color.

There is variety in the line!" *list of hair and eye color combinations here*
--Twenty shades of white characters are still all white. AG hasn't even given us the diversity of that--no GotY has had brown eyes with brown hair and been a frontline character since Marisol. Jess, if you skip over the red tint in her hair. A flood of white with only a few characters or dolls or color is not enough. 

"White people make up 60% of America, so of course more dolls will be white. That's true representation!" (submitted by American Girl Liz)
Let's start there with math, if you want. The current demographics of the US are, according to the last census in 2010 (source, Wikipedia):
Non-Hispanic White 63.7 %
Hispanic or Latino, any race or mix 16.4 %
Non-Hispanic Black or African American     12.2 %
Non-Hispanic Asian 4.7 %
Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native 0.7 %
Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander     0.2 %
Non-Hispanic some other race 0.2 %
Non-Hispanic two or more races 1.9 %
That would mean, using math, that at least 40% of the GOTY dolls need to be POC to accurately reflect US demographics. If we count the front line girls, that means that out of thirteen dolls, five should be PoC, rounding down. Let's be silly generous and say half dolls would be biracial with white, since that's been done. That's one black doll, two Latina Dolls, one biracial Asian Doll, and then one to cover Native people or any other races. The line has only done two of those--one Latina and one biracial White/East Asian character. And that's including adults.

But the argument is that the children are less diverse. According to recent data from the Census Bureau, 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.

Now that we've done the pedantic math, let's get less nit picky. The fact I had to type all that out and 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.

As Demographics Shift, Kids' Books Stay Stubbornly White: A report by the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that only 3 percent of children's books are by or about Latinos — even though nearly a quarter of all public school children today are Latino.

Characters in children’s books are almost always white, and it’s a big problem: In 2012, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center reviewed 3,600 children’s books. Only three percent were about African-Americans. Asian and Pacific Americans were featured in two percent, followed by Latinos with less than two percent, and American Indians at less than one percent.

The diversity isn't there. (source.)
"Businesses aren't responsible for anything but the bottom line."
American Girl should not be looking solely at the bottom line. That only excuses exclusion. They can set a precedent. They can step up and do better and be better. I'm angry, yes--angry and disappointed and saddened that this has gone on so long. There has not been a non-mixed doll of color for the Girls of the Year since 2005. There has not been a single black, Native, or non-mixed Asian character. There has not been a non-East Asian Character such as South Asian or Middle Eastern. There are children worldwide, nationwide, that want dolls that look like them, and American Girl is not fulfilling this in the Girl of the Year line. Businesses need to run better, and as a person who wants to see better, I'm going to keep talking about it. To quote Joe Ventura: (who's talking about books, but it applies):
It is a responsibility I hope we share, all of us who love literature and children. It is the responsibility that lies behind the percentages, behind the numbers, beyond the market. When we make books, or write about books, or purchase books, we are affirming a vision of the communities in which we want to live. Through books, we outline a vision for our future. We can no longer stand for our futures to be isolated, segregated, lonely, and angry. We can no longer turn a blind eye to stories that create worlds in which difference is viewed as a burden, a dry educational tool, a threat — or, worse, is simply rendered silent and invisible. Those fictional worlds have very real effects. There are children with fear in their hearts, there are children in caskets, and it is up to us to help the next generations avoid those fates.
American Girl's lack of diversity in one of their major lines that gets promoted every year has real-world effects on children. It is up to us--and American Girl--to push for a doll of Color and promote her and give diversity voice.  A company of this size can and has the ability to push back against the dominant story.

Right now, the voice of the Girl of the Year is overwhelmingly mid to upper class white, and that's terrible. The bottom line isn't enough when children and others are not being represented.

"There are Dolls of color. There's Addy/Josefina/Cécile/Ivy. There's Jess/Marisol/Sonali/Kanani. There's the Just Like You/My AG line. And AG has hinted there's going to be a new BeForever Black girl in 2016. Isn't that enough?
--Yes, they all exist. But--and this is important? None of them are the Girl of the Year. Yes, I can go out and get a black or Asian MyAG and use her in place of Grace, and I very well may make a Latina Grace. But why do I have to do this, instead of getting a story being written and pushed by AG with all their influence?

A one line Facebook post about an upcoming BeForever Historical isn't a Girl of the Year. The modern American Girl Line isn't Girl of the Year. Addy, Kaya, Josefina, and Ivy and Cécile are not the Girls of the Year. The problem with diversity is specific to the Girl of the Year Line. Bringing up any others is ignoring the issue.

The Girl of the Year line is a big push by AG, and to date none of them have been black, or fully Asian, and there hasn't been a Latina girl in a decade. The target audience of 8-12 won't remember Marisol or Jess. Cécile and Ivy are retired. Jess, Marisol, Kanani, and Sonali are all retired. We can't easily get those dolls. Sonali and Kanani regularly go for double their original costs on the secondary market.

And even bringing up the past characters is sketchy because they're not there now. In fact, as of this year no one before Jess is in the official archives and no one before Nicki is on the main Girl of the Year site.

Seriously. No dolls of color other than Kanani.
How many GotY that are currently available, right now, for a curious child or parent in the store to get, are white? One. Why are you telling us to focus on the past when we're talking about the future and the present? Saying that Kanani was available four years ago and Sonali was available six years ago and that Jess and Marisol were out nine and ten years ago respectively doesn't address availability now. A child in the target audience right now, even if they knew about AG at a younger age than eight--say six or so? or even four, if we push it too far back? Hasn't had a non-white girl available to them. There's no balance at all. One non-half white Doll of Color and two biracial ones who are half white in fifteen years and thirteen front line dolls is not balanced. Removing two of the three front line dolls of color and leaving only one is not balanced. Overwheming whiteness and ignoring other cultures by a company claiming to have diversity is not balanced.

There are a lot of girls who get one or two dolls before they age out of AG's four year window of focus, when they no longer become the target and shift into mature collectors or sell their dolls and get out altogether. And none of them in ten years have been a full PoC. The option has never been there for, say a Black girl or Asian girl who isn't mixed or Asian-Pacific or Middle Eastern girl or a Native girl. Are they not worthy of their childhood being represented by a Girl of the Year in that four-year span between eight and twelve that AG is targeting? How many more children will age away from or be pushed away from AG between characters of color in the Girl of the Year Line? 

The Girls of the Year get the stories, the collections, the fancy clothes and books and matching outfits and big old splash images on the walls and hype and the "she's only here for one year!" campaign. The others don't get that. Telling others that we can (as one woman on FB said) "go get Addy and shut up" is deflecting the problem that the diversity is lacking in the Girl of the Year line. 

No, it's not enough to have them in other lines. It's not the main Girl of the Year Line. 

"Sonali was the Girl of 2009, so you already had a black girl."
Sonali was not the main GotY in 2009. She was the best friend to Chrissa. Chrissa got the stories, the spotlight, the movie, and the accessories and outfits. Sonali got the clothes on her back and a side book. Sonali is not black. She's South Asian. And even if she was the one, she shouldn't be the only one.

And see the point I just made above, about how she's been retired for six years and goes for hundreds on the secondary market. A child's mother shouldn't have to sink twice as much into a secondary market to get a doll of color. AG doesn't get the money off the secondary market.

"Then why don't you buy other brands?/Go start your own company."
--I do buy other brands. I buy and support/ed lines like Double Dutch Dolls and MyTwinn (until they had racial fail before closing), and here and there get Our Generation items--which sadly, has the same diversity issues. I'm a huge fan of Hearts 4 Hearts which has huge diversity in a smaller range of characters, even if I cringe that they are partnered with a Christian organization and did some fuck ups. And for decades and centuries, black people and other PoC have been seeing exclusion in mainstream lines, making representation for ourselves, and then getting pretty decent traction for it. See things like the Kenya doll, Fulla, and Nigerian dolls. There's Ikuzi and Angelica. There's several lines out there with better representation.

But none of these other lines are American Girl.

American Girl is the largest, most well known company of 18" dolls and characters. Telling me to go elsewhere is like telling me to leave the US if I'm upset with their policies. Not only is that a jerky, terrible thing to say, I don't want and shouldn't have to go elsewhere for representation. I have a right to complain to and about the largest, most well known line of 18" dolls in the US. 

Furthermore, starting my own company is infeasible. Even if it was feasible, even if I had millions to create a doll line with diversity, the reaction would then be that we're excluding white people. When people of color do make things for and about us, we get snapped at that we're being exclusionary to white people by not having them to the degree they think we should have. And if we do boycott, we're told we're being petulant and divisive. We can't win for losing, whatever we do.

Let's be realistic. You don't really want us to make our own lines or go buy other lines when you say this. You just want us to shut up and take what's offered without protest. Well, I'm not going to shut up.

"But [doll X] looks like/is like me/my child and that matters to me!" (suggested by citrusella)
--It's super cool you have a doll that's like you. Good for you. I don't have that. The closest I have as a black woman is Sonali and she's not even black. Latina girls only have Marisol (and Lea, divided from her character). Asian children have Jess, if they can accept her other white half, and maybe Kanani. Native girls have no one and are stuck in the past with Kaya's display most of the time. This is the same argument that comes through with Disney princesses: that since Tiana, Mulan, Jasmine and Pocahontas (and the many many issues of her being a "princess") exist, there's no problem that there's been four white princesses in a row in the Disney Princess line. And pointing to Esmerelda (also rife with Romani stereotypes) doesn't help that the last four have been Rapunzel, Merida, Anna, and Elsa.

Consider that while you've been represented by a hazel-eyed blond girl or a dark haired blue eyed girl or the like, girls of color who want the same thing don't even have a doll in the line that shares their race or skin color? Shouldn't they have a chance at a GOTY who looks like them, too?

"But none of the characters look like me/my child at all, because of [details]!"
--I'm sorry none of the characters look exactly like you. But you should admit and understand that the dolls and characters have been white most of the time, and that is representation. Children of color don't even have that as an option most of the time. A child of color has never had a story or character about someone of their race in the GotY to ID with unless they have been Latina, partially Asian, or South Asian.

We don't want a doll that looks 100% just like us. We want representation.

"They don't mean to be racist, so it's not racist." 
--To quote someone:  
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
They don't have to mean it for it to hurt. It still hurts, and it's still racist. It still pushes the idea of white being universal and characters of color to be side characters or unworthy of focus.

NEW, 1/20/15: "But you're being racist to white people!" (suggessted by Etta)
--First of all, racism is not just being mean to another person because of their race, no matter what someone told you or what the dictionary says, because a dictionary is biased too. Shit, the dictionary also says that tomatoes are a vegetable, because there was a tarriff on those, but not fruit and the US wanted to tax them. There were politics against food, you think there's no politics on tearing the teeth out of racism and making it a mush mouthed definition of "mean to people because of race"?

Racism is better defined as the prejudice against a person's race combined with the societal power and influence to feel, even subconsciously, that your racial prejudice is supported or unchallenged.

That out of the way, we are not being prejudiced against white people or white dolls. We want more representation in the line, and wanting to be seen is not prejudiced. How do you think people and color and girls of color feel not being represented? Seeing again that they're not "special enough" to have a GotY like them? How do you think they feel being told that they're not, as one horrible human being online said, "entitled to be represented"? That they shouldn't matter?

How do you think people of color feel with another microaggression on their plate?

NEW! "So you'd be happier with Grace being black/dark/PoC? You'd have bought her then?"
--Long story short: A lot happier than having another white doll. While Grace is (to me) fairly cute and her story is better than some have been, she could have been a doll of color with the same story and collection.

And "of color" doesn't just mean black. While I--and many others--want a black one because in fifteen years there hasn't been even one, we'd like overall better representation. Such as a full-blooded Asian doll, a Native doll, a Middle-Eastern American, or several others.

Yes, if she'd been of color, I'd have bought Grace Day One, like I did with Sonali and Kanani. But she's not and so I'm not eager for her. And I'm not the only one who feels like that.

"There's bigger things out there than a stupid doll line!
--You're right. A fuss for a doll of color by a major doll line isn't a huge thing. It's not as important as Black Lives Matter or speaking up for trans people/MOGAI people. But the little things matter. Representation matters. I'm not asking for a queer character of color like I got with Legend of Korra6, but I have every right to ask for representation of me, my family, and my people and stories. I have a right to stand up and say "No, this isn't good enough, American Girl. Do better."

"But you said you like Grace/Felicity/Saige/Maryellen/another white doll and you own several, so you've invalidated your argument!"
No, I have not. This isn't a "gotcha!" game. It's not a zero-sum situation. I can like white dolls and characters and still request more representation for dolls and characters of color. I liked Saige's books. (Isabelle I still haven't gotten past chapter one of book three.) I adored Mia's. I like Grace's, having read the first. Chrissa's have been some of the most realistic and relevant stories about a Girl of the Year.

I'm still upset that these characters have all been white.

I can like a white doll/character and still think that there should be more representation. The human mind is complex and can hold more than two opinions at once. It's a dishonest argument to claim that interest in other characters means that I don't really want representation. You're just trying to turn valid critique into a terrible game of D&D where if we have the Likes Any White Character attribute, then we can't cast Requests More Diversity.

So what's your goal?(tweaked 7/3/15)
--Dolls of color for the Girl of the Year Line. And not just one, but a good diverse mix. No more, no less. While Black, Native (who have never been out) and Latina (who hasn't been out in over a decade) is highly desired, we just want someone who's not dominantly white over and over like it has overwhelmingly been. I don't want a specific description. I want representation more than what has been.

AG can't make everyone happy. People complain every year about something in the line. You just want them to cater to you and no one else.
--We aren't asking AG to make us "happy" like petulant children who want that candy bar or we'll hold our breath. We're asking for representation. We're asking for something that is seriously lacking in the line. The diversity isn't just for PoC sake, though that is a huge reason. Everyone should see other stories outside of the dominate one. Studies have shown that continued overemphasis on a narrow focus of character in stories and media to children leads to low self esteem in everyone but white boys. AG has the girl aspect covered. Now can we get beyond that?

Plus, you're being dismissive. Yes, in part I would like AG to make me happy--because I have as much a right to be happy as anyone else.

NEW: 7/3/15: Have you seen/heard about the GotY for 2016, Lea Clark? I'm pretty sure she's part something that's not white. There you go, now the tag can drop.
--No, it can't. That's not why we're doing this. 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.

Look what I said above. 93% of children's books are white character focused. Over one in ten. That is not representation anymore than one or two girls is female representation in a show. AG can't make up for years of non-representation with one half-white character every 4-5 years.

ETA, 12/31/15: Lea Clark is only 1/8th Brazilian. This is less than acceptable. Using this I should be able to claim whiteness, since I can trace back to at least two great grandparents that were not fully black. But no, I can't--and without getting into blood quantum physics, this is problematic. AG is pushing more and more ethnicity out to appeal to whiteness.

NEW: 12/16/15: But biracial children need representation too! Complaining about the characters being half white is denying their existence. We should also be telling the stories of biracial girls.

Actual, flesh and blood mixed/biracial/multiracial people are one thing. Nothing is wrong with any of them.

But the Girls of the Year are not real people, and so their racial background is decided and planned by committee. Again. No frontline character in the GotY since Marisol in 2005 has not been at least part white--over ten years. And at least twice they've picked locales that have high PoC populations and straight up went with white characters. (They have also several times added a PoC sidekick--for Grace, for WonderBread/Isabelle, and for Saige.) Not only does a partially white character imply that a modern character cannot be accepted in the line without a spoonful of whiteness to make the ethnicity go down, it also implies that the only "real" biracial children are those that are part white. Never mind Black Latinxs or any other potential mix, someone's gotta be part white to be biracial. 

AG, to be blunt, is not thinking and were not thinking about the representation of biracial children and people of America when they made Kanani and Jess (and, from what I've heard, Sonali when people ask) part-white, and they will not be doing the same with any other half-white/partially white Girls of the Year that are released. They are using "This character is biracial/one parent is white, the other is not in some way" as a cop out to avoid putting forth a character that is not at least partially white. And they are doing this by design.

Secondly, AG characters are not real ethnicities because they are created. So the argument that people apply when they say "but real people who are mixed exist in this world" is a bullshit argument because AG characters are not real. It's the same with saying that a woman in skimpy clothes in a video game is fine because the story says that she is self-empowered by her nudity. She's not empowered by anything at all, because she's not a real person. She's a character. They don't dress themselves like that and come up with their backstory. Someone created them to be half naked. It's the Thermian Argument. In-universe rules of the world cannot be used to justify what happens in the world, because the world was created. AG characters are created and so able to be changed by AG. In this case, AG continues to design Girls of the Year and only allow them to be partially PoC or outright white, and this is a form of racial bigotry.

Biracial people are a real people, and deserve real representation. But this isn't real representation.  AG is using biracial people to avoid having full PoC. Poor representation is not better than none at all.

NEW!  1/2/17: You finally got your Black Girl of the Year in Gabriela McBride! So there's no more need for this. You got what you wanted and to complain further would be greedy/selfish/ungrateful.

You're damn right that we finally got a Black GotY and I'm so fucking GLAD that Gabriela exists. She's here and she's black and she's a beautiful dancing step in the right direction. Thank you American Girl, for finally releasing a Black girl of the Year.

That being said, there is lot to critique. Gabriela in many ways feels like a called out afterthought by AG as if they planned another white chick--a lot of rumors around a white girl named Tenney also came out at the same time. And then, only after an journalist on GMA pointed out last February during the Melody discussion that they had never had a black girl of the year on national television, did they go, pulled #46 off the shelf and whipped up some work for her to put a black doll out. As of right now, me making this add on, Gabby doesn't have a movie planned, or a large item--though if that means a trend away from $500 Stupid Bakeries I can live with it.

Yes, AG released a non-mixed, Doll of Color for Girl of the Year.

Now they need to keep doing it.

They need to keep going. They need to represent everyone and not use Gabriela as a "so we did it and we're done" thing. This is not the finish line. This is the first step. AG needs to release more girls of color for girl of the year. I am not greedy for wanting to see more and more representation.

And for those who claim that we still aren't happy because we're always complaining and so we shouldn't get anything else, then? Or that it's greedy? Go sit on a boomstick. Seriously. Get the hell out and eat some Lego. Black people in AG fandom have every right to have what we have, love that we have her, want her to succeed and still want more.  I am not greedy for wanting representation. You're a jerk for telling me to stop asking.

I will remind you that this is only the first ever Black Girl, there has still never been a full East Asian Girl or Native Girl of the Year, there have been no Middle Eastern Girls of the Year, and the only South Asian Girl was a companion. I want Gabby to blow the fuck up, because then maybe it'll sink into the thick heads that we want and crave and need diversity. We need the doors and the windows. One door and window does not let all the sunshine in.

Don't make the next little girl like me, who is a black writer and artist, wait til she's in her thirties to see herself represented as a modern girl again. Don't let this be the last step. Let it be the first.

"Stop making this a race thing, it is you who are the racisms for pointing out racisms."
--You clearly cannot be reasoned with. Let the snark commence.

Conclusion: #‎AGDoCGotY‬

If we all back each other up and spread the word and are mature about it, will get our voices heard. We can speak up. Let's speak up. Social media can be powerful as hell. At the worst, people across platforms will hear about it and AG '16 will be another half white or all white girl, but we can keep speaking. We can keep speaking.

We can stay woke and wake others up.

Get the word out. Speak up. 

Demand better of the world. 

Demand Better of AG.

American Girl, give us a Doll of Color Girl of the Year.

#‎AGDoCGotY
#‎AGDoCGotY
#‎AGDoCGotY
This can't go on.
--Neth

P.S. Not a bad post #100, huh?8
P.P.S. I will update this post as I get more responses and find more data.
PPS: A petition on change.org: Make more Ethnic Dolls and Represent All American Cultures

1 The full original quote is by Hillel the Elder (and not JFK as often misattributed): "If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?"
2 Tumblr massive rebloggings not withstanding. 
3 So if any of you are planning to pop Grace's wig off, I'll pay you to have it.
4 I have one now: libra.nethilia
5 Some from my rant in 2013, cleaned up.
6 One of the highlights of 2014, thanks.
7 Generic you.
8 Well, #99. I apparently had an empty one hanging around. I'm counting it anyways.

75 comments:

  1. ::standing O::

    That line about "You're racist for talking about race!" always reminds me of this hilarious and spot on Tweet.

    Bonus snap back for anyone with "Stop talking about race if you want racism to go away!"

    "Racism will go away if we stop talking about it" alright I’m going to prescribe you a nap, because you are suffering from a baby’s psychology called lack of object permanence, where you genuinely believe shit doesn’t exist when you aren’t acknowledging it.

    A very happy 2015 to you, one of my all-time fave bloggers! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think Buttercream's superior friend's name is Ella?
    Great post as usual. I might get an instagram account just for this reason.
    I think the hash tag #agig is a good way to reach folks on instagram as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's so frustrating, because any of the white dolls could be another race (especially if they live in DC or New Mexico!). I don't think their stories would need to change much, either, would they? Any given white doll isn't intrinsically bad, although I've found many GOTY boring, but so many white dolls compared to so few non-white and half-white dolls looks pretty suspect.

    And the idea that I, a white woman, can't relate to or enjoy or learn from a story about someone of a different race is insulting to everyone. It implies I'm too stupid to look outside my own experiences, and that people of other races are so foreign and utterly different from me that I could never possibly be expected to understand anything about them. I guess that's why books about fantasy and sci-if and other non-human characters are so unpopular, huh?

    I am looking forward to a new historical doll, not only because she's to be a doll of color, but also because I prefer those books. But that doesn't change how monochromatic the GOTY line has mostly been.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Audrey (aka Aelindil)January 12, 2015 at 12:50 PM

      Agreed! And hi Susan, i didn't know you followed Neth's blog (but it doesn't surprise me)!

      Delete
    2. Yeah, I was poking around the internet and found someone who was familiar for some reason... :)

      See you soon!

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So with you. My mom said the same thing recently. Why is only black people that are buying black dolls? Why can't we all simply buy black dolls?

      Delete
    2. thats bullshit. certainly black ppl can afford buying AG dolls. there is this curly haired black MyAG doll thats second most popular. If AG made a GOTY similiar to her not only tons of black kids would buy her but also other children of color as well as white kids who have responcible parents. the doll certainly would sell.

      Delete
    3. I think it's a little ridiculous to assume that white children would only be given a GOTY of color if they have "responsible parents" I've wanted JLY #...26? (The medium to dark skinned Addy mold with longer curly hair, I think Otters is one of her) since she came out in 2005 (I was 12 at the time), and I doubt that I am the only white girl who has found a doll of color to be pretty/desirable even before being awakened to why we need them. As mentioned in the article, the GOTY line is the most marketed and promoted line of everything AG sells. There will be plenty of people who would want a GOTY of color due to the exigency factor, all the special extras she would get, or just because she's the one whom they've heard about. Assuming that a doll of a certain race is only really marketable to people of that race makes the mistake of assuming that someone's story must match one's own entirely in order to be relatable, and very much spits in the face of the minorities who in so many cases have to make do with a white doll. "We acknowledge that not having representation sucks, but ONLY when WE are the ones being excluded!"

      As an aside, this is something I really appreciate about Barbie. People rag on her unrealistic body shape, but really, I never felt the need to have it, and in all other aspects, she's a very progressive doll. Not only does she have a number of friends of various races (Christie, Teresa, Janet, Whitney, etc. - those were the popular ones when I was a kid) but for several decades there has also been black and Hispanic Barbie, Ken and other members of the core line (and series upon series of collector Barbies in the national costume and appropriate ethnicity for countries around the world) ie. saying to kids you don't have to be white to be the main focus. She also really embodies the idea that girls can be anything they want to - whether that's an astronaut, a teacher, a businesswoman, an Olympic athlete, the President or a princess at a ball. If only Mattel could transfer the mindset to the AG line. I worry that Barbie is going to see her end because of a ridiculous quibble about weight in a doll that is literally meant to have the proportions of a fashion sketch and it really will be a loss in terms of all the good things she stands for. It's not like Bratz, Monster High, Ever After High, etc. have realistic proportions either.

      Wow that turned into a ramble. Sorry!

      Delete
  5. And yes, congrats on 100 posts! I've enjoyed them all thoroughly.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I got into some heated words on the AG FB page. My ethnic daughter wants the Caucasian dolls because they have better accessories and stories. She has so many blond/blue eyed dolls that we have banned any new ones from the house. She got an Adora Girl Scout doll this year and has been very pleased with her. These are very pretty dolls. But with this GOTY debacle I'm not shopping AG this year no matter how hard she cries and begs. I'm going to look at some other secondary lines and give them all my funds because AG doesn't deserve my hard earned cash! Great post. I'll be following your blog more often!

    ReplyDelete
  7. If you're planning to add to the rebuttals section, there's this one, too:

    "But [doll X] looks like/is like me!"

    And my (albeit gentle) rebuttal to that is: "It's super cool you have a doll that's like you, but have you ever considered the fact that some girls who want the same thing don't even have a doll in the line that shares their race/skin color? Shouldn't they have a chance at a GOTY who looks like them, too?"

    ReplyDelete
  8. *Claps*

    The idea that DoC don't sell and that White girls don't like DoC is a big, fat lie to add to the lie list as well. Some of this White girl's favorite dolls as a child were DoC (Kaya, So-In-Style's Chandra, to name two off the top of my head), and they were beloved BECAUSE they were different from me and my other dolls. White, blonde dolls start to all blend together and get really boring after a while.

    Keep up the awesome blogging!

    #AGDoCGoTY!

    --StoryTeller :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just wanted to add, since you brought up the Disney princesses, that there is one glimmer of hope in that area-- the next princess is going to be a Princess of Color! Her name is Moana, she's Polynesian, and her movie will use the CGI-type of animation that the more recent princess movies have used. While there is still obviously a lack of diversity in the princesses, this is at least a step in the right direction. I can't wait to see it!
      Source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/22/showbiz/movies/disney-princess-heroine-moana/index.html

      --StoryTeller :)

      Delete
  9. Yay, post #100! I love all the posts! For real. When I discovered this blog, I lost like a week picking through your archives one post at a time. This is my happy place.Keep it going!

    I was particularly disgusted by AG's tone deaf replies on FB to other people's pointing out what a disappointing heap of BS another white GOTY is. The best they managed was, "We have plans for a black BeForever in 2016!" My soul made a lot of faces at that.

    Slight tangent: I also want to see more girls (and especially the MAG's) with textured hair than Addy.

    Also tangent: I kind of want to (gently?) shake the people who are so excited about Grace the Entrepreneur. We can do better than cupcakes. Like this girl who invented a better cup for her grandfather with Parkinson's: https://www.facebook.com/amightygirl/posts/784991421537173:0 Now THAT is a girl of the year. An entrepreneur girl selling cupcakes is about as exciting to me as the Barbie The Computer Engineer book (http://gizmodo.com/barbie-f-cks-it-up-again-1660326671).

    ReplyDelete
  10. Awesome-let's hope this works. I'll try starting this week.

    One I get sometimes is this, "Well, white people make up 60% of America, so of course more dolls will be white. That's true representation!"

    My response is always simple math. Okay. That would mean that at least 40% of the GOTY dolls need to be POC and they are not. Currently (and I don't count Sonali and Gwen as GOTY) 3/13 of the dolls are POC. Only one (Marisol) is not half white, so really, let's make that 1/13. At most only a quarter are POC, at worst only around 10%.

    So that's a BS argument-they shouldn't use the maths with me, cause I'll break out the maths! True, I used a calculator, but I still used math. Even though I think it's stupid to have to use numbers to justify representation.

    Happy New Years though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adding it in with some retorts I've put on Facebook! Thanks.

      Delete
  11. Sometimes they'll use a different number instead of 60% but the math remains about the same

    ReplyDelete
  12. That's one black doll, two Latina Dolls, one biracial Asian Doll, and then one to cover Native people or any other races. The line has only done two of those--one Latina and one biracial White/East Asian character.

    Slight correction: they did three. Latina, biracial White/East Asian and Kanani (who is at least part Native Hawaiian).

    Still, statistically speaking, that's at least one black doll and one Latina doll. (The lack of a black doll is really fricken noticeable; I might have grown up in a pretty white area, but I know there are more black people in the country than 1 in 15.)

    Also, when I was 8-12, I would have bought an Addy doll. (Honestly, if they weren't $80, I would have wanted ALL THE HISTORICALS. Well, my sister could have Samantha.) When they put out a line of Babysitter's Club dolls*, I had a Jessie doll (and my sister had the Claudia).

    if anything, 10 year old me might not have bought a random black doll, but would have totally wanted a doll of a book character, regardless of race. (Even more than generic white doll). The GotY and Historicals aren't marketed as 'look like you!' they are marketed as specific characters.

    * They only did half the characters, though. I was pissed about that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is Kanani. The point I'm making is that according to demographics people try to use to say that the line should be mostly white since the US is, here should have been at least what I've pointed out to be even remotely accurate to US stats among the 13 main dolls of the year. Kanani by canon is only 1/4th East Asian. By the same demographics being used to say that Blacks (some people think PoC = black which is wrong) don't need to be there, East Asian and Biracial/multiracial kids are overly represented.

      Delete
    2. True, mostly it was a nitpick/technical correction (that could have been due to me skimming) that doesn't change the point: whether you divide it in the 'white'/'not white', or break it down by category, the dolls skew white compared to your average American 10 year old population.

      * And I wonder if East Asian (and South Asian, if we count Sonali) were chosen because of the perception that those are the non-whites most likely to be affluent enough to buy their children dolls, or that assumed-white parents would object less to kids wanting an Asian doll than a black one.

      Also people who seem to think Sonali is black in the sense of African American (rather than 'dark skinned') make me cranky.

      Delete
  13. The "white people won't buy DOC" argument is ridiculous. If I liked a doll's story and/ or collection, I'd get her no matter what she looked like.
    For what it's worth, I do like Grace's books, but they could have been written about a POC just as well. And for the POC best friends, it is Ella, and don't forget Toulane (McKenna), Sonali (Chrissa) and Ivy (Julie).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another annoyance about giving white GOTYs POC best friends: I find it annoying how usually there is also a third member of the group who is also white. Grace has Ella (who was asked to be AA or Latina in casting calls), but she also has Maddy (white). Isabelle has Luisa (Asian/ Hispanic) but her sister is just as prominent if not more. Saige had Gabi (Hispanic), but Tessa (white) had a larger role. McKenna had Toulane (Asian Indian), but she also had Josie and Sierra (white). Chrissa had Sonali (Asian Indian), but also Gwen (white). Julie had Ivy (Asian), and also Joy (white).

      Delete
  14. Thanks so much for this guide to dealing with the trolls on AG's Facebook.

    I would like to point out, though, that you don't just have to use overall census data. It's been broken down into age groups (of which you can just use the two comprising the target market) and can be found on Wikipedia; according to that, >14% of 6-14 year olds (or something like that) in the US are Black. That's a bit stronger than 12%.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Also - would you mind putting something together for the argument that a white passing biracial (half white, half Black) doll would be Black representation? Someone on AG's Facebook thought that light skin+blue eyes+red hair+black parent=representation. Not entirely sure how to respond to that.

    And another - but what about MY LITTLE GIRL? There's not a (looks just like a currently available doll minus one tiny detail). I've been responding with "your little girl's ethnic group hasn't been historically marginalized with no representation whatsoever," so far.

    Finally - "People will always be upset with them! It's never enough!" So nauseatingly stupid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been thinking (if I can every ACTUALLY sign in on Facebook) of asking why exactly they are so dead-set against even just one new DoCGotY, because their arguments now are super weak. People are upset with Grace, people were upset with Isabelle, what makes upset over a Latina, biracial (not necessarily half white), or, god forbid, black doll, so special? There will always be people upset and there will always be people in love, so why say the phenomenon is limited to P/DoC?

      As for it never being "enough", people aren't clamoring for ALL the dolls to be DoC, much like how they don't demand every doll be sold with a wheelchair or hearing aid or service dog or allergy-free lunch as a no-price-added accessory (completely valid requests for GotY representation of these things notwithstanding). In fact, by so vehemently opposing a DoCGotY themselves, it could possibly be argued that they, in fact, are the ones who don't think they have enough representation, which is a line of thought that is, quite frankly, silly.

      Delete
    2. I saw that bit about the red headed biracial. You may want to explain that we want a visible, clear PoC doll, and that that description is white-passing and thus not aiding.

      (It seems that person wants But Not Too Black, as if a straight up black doll would just be the WORST. She's terrible.)

      And I've added in more including the "you just can't be happy."

      (reposted because error.)

      Delete
  16. Hi, just used the tag and tweeted. This was a very important post. Thanks Neth, thank you for voicing this

    ReplyDelete
  17. You might want to fix the #AGDoCGotY hashtag that's right under your header banner. The link goes to:

    http://americangirloutsider.blogspot.com/2015/01/americangirloutsider.blogspot.com/2015/01/ag-complaint-department-agdocgoty.html

    and goes nowhere.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Today I saw a mom who posted a Sid by side comparison of Lanie and Isabelle - they're the exact same doll. Nobody could tell them apart. I'm white, but I was raised to respect and embrace diversity, and I choose to continue that celebration with my children. My daughter is a dancer but we didn't get Isabelle. I hate, hate Grace. They need to diversify. Thank you for this post!! I love your blog. From a Samantha fan ;)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you, Nethilia, for this thoughtful, serious, persuasive, intelligent post. I sincerely appreciate all the effort it took you to write this all out. I will be linking to this post from my own blog when I address Grace (in time). I especially appreciate you mentioning how the human mind is complex. While we can appreciate the good aspects of what AG does, and like what we like in their various lines of products, we will not accept racism or exclusionism in any guise. Thumbs up and thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I LOVE this article! I have a child of mixed race, Caucasian & Arbic. Kanani was the closest, so I bought EVERYTHING!! My daughter's eye color has changed to brown, but we're blue, until about 3 or 4.
    My daughter isn't the only little girl caught between two worlds, Anglo & Islam. So, I was stuck doing the best I could!
    This whole article needs to be emailed to them, at AG. They need to know this is unacceptable.
    There is so much racial mixing (Yay), that I firmly believe, by the time my daughter is an adult, most kids will be a gorgeous mocha color. AG needs to catch up! We are not all rich, white people who buy these dolls.
    That said, my daughter WON a doll over Labor day this year. She had her choice of any of the new BeForever line. She picked Caroline. Go figure. Looks nothing like my child. We now have 9 dolls. I want so badly, to find a Sonali & be able to keep her. But her resale value is currently making that IMPOSSIBLE. I will buy these dolls & I will fight with her dad to do it. But I'd love to show him, just one, truly represents our daughter.

    THANK YOU!!
    Holly Million

    ReplyDelete
  21. I honestly think Grace will be a good seller. I went to the Oralndo store on New Year's Day and I could barely walk in that goty section. In a matter of minutes all of the Grace dolls were gone. A few minutes later, the employees brought out more. They cycle repeats. I did purchase Grace. I honestly love her collection, but I think we could use some AA dolls. AA people can afford the dolls. I saw some in the store a few days ago. AG really needs to step up their game and make something more unique.

    ReplyDelete
  22. To many blue eyes girls. Clearly it is all about what sells. I mean seriously way to many blue eyed dolls. Lots of dolls with freckles! I love your article and agree 100%.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Why do the GOTY ALL have to be ethnic? As you mentioned, they have had Kanani, Jess, Marisol, Sonali.... I think AG is doing a nice balance - blond dolls, red haired dolls, brown haired dolls, medium skin, Sonali, Jess.....they can't all be ethnic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They haven't all been "ethnic", and no one could get them to be so seeing as we're 15 years into the line.

      And as I mentioned, yes, there have been some characters of color. You must not have read past that, before you commented, did you? Because I said, and I quote from above:

      The Girl of the Year line is a big push by AG, and to date none of them have been black, or fully Asian, and there hasn't been a Latina girl in a decade. The target audience of 8-12 won't remember Marisol or Jess--and Jess, Marisol, Kanani, and Sonali are all retired. People can't easily get those dolls. Sonali and Kanani regularly go for double their original costs on the secondary market. How many GotY that are currently available, right now, for a curious child or parent in the store to get, are white? One. Why are you telling us to focus on the past when we're talking about the future and the present? Saying that Kanani was available four years ago and Sonali was available six years ago and that Jess and Marisol were out nine and ten years ago respectively doesn't address availability now. A child in the target audience right now, even if they knew about AG at a younger age than eight--say six or so? or even four, if we push it too far back? Hasn't had a non-white girl available to them. There's no balance at all. One non-half white Doll of Color in 15 years and 13 front line dolls is not balanced.

      Don't come around here saying terrible things if you can't be assed to read intelligent replies to inane statements.

      Delete
  24. biracial dolls are cool too but not when there is not a single black one. I dont mind biracial dolls but not when EVERY Doc happens to be half white. here is how it would be if AG actually practiced what they preach and cared about the diversity in the GOTY line:

    2012 a black gymnast
    2013 a hispanic artist from NM
    2014 ok you can have your white blond ballerina
    2015 a biracial girl with black relatives in France
    2016 a mexican girl who`s into singing and playing instruments with a hard focus on her mexican heritage
    2017 a chinese immigrant girl who wants to be a doctor
    2018 a jewish girl who fights against child obesity and starts a health and fitness (or cycling) program at her school
    2019 a black girl who is a beginning actress and just landed a role in a movie
    2020 an Indian immigrant girl who loves arts, crafts and design (with an emphasis on her Indian heritage)
    2021 an Irish girl with short red hair who wants to be a scientist and starts a science club at her school
    2022 a half black/half hispanic girl whos dad is in the military, moves around a lot with her family and has trouble finding friends
    2023 a philippina girl who misses her grandparents back in Manila but her family cant afford a trip home to see family so she starts a dog walking business with her friends
    2024 a well-off girl from United Arab Emirates who comes to New York to study at an international boarding school

    now THAT would have been a well balanced selection. so many ideas out there! so many things AG could possibly do! and all they do is give us yet another white girl.

    Livvie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please, let's not forget a Native American girl! So much potential material there!

      Delete
    2. I know I just know so little about the Native culture that I didnt want to make up a character that would be too stereotypical. what Im saying is that there is a world of possibile GOTYS of color and creating them is easier than creating a historical character of color so there should be no excuse to not create one. you dont have to be a genius to write a story about a black/native/asian girl that plays soccer or starts a school project or smth. I understand that it probably takes time to develop a historical doll of color taht would last but with GOTYS its a lt easier

      Delete
    3. I'll write all the books! Even if they don't make the doll I have Createspace

      Delete
    4. I like the way you think!

      As far as a Native girl, I have a friend who recently found out she's 1/4 Cree (3/4 white) and is getting in touch with her heritage. I think her mother was adopted. Somebody was adopted in "The Scoop." I think that'd be a groovy idea. Maybe one who wants to be a detective (I watch a lot of Investigation Discovery) and she decides to trace the "mystery" of her roots.

      But one without white ancestry would also be necessary.

      Delete
  25. Alright, I don't think this is exactly relevant, but I need opinions: I got Shola for Christmas and while she looks beautiful with her hijab, her hair is gorgeous. Would it be a wrong move to take her hijab off? I don't know if or when they would take it off. (Also, Spellcheck, hijab is a word. Not cool.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's up to you and as a character, it would in part be up to her. I keep mine on Shola here because it's her character that she wears a headscarf as hijab and I feel like mine would be uncomfortable with her hair shown. Why not try having it on sometimes and sometimes off?

      Delete
    2. Just a thought: a Muslim woman I worked with was comfortable showing her hair if no men could see. Granted, one Muslim woman doesn't represent all Muslim women, but maybe you could imagine some circumstances in which she would feel okay with her hair uncovered.

      Delete
    3. I am a Muslim girl and I wear a hijab. The 'rules' very briefly (I'm not sure if some people are comfortable with talking about religion) are that if you choose to wear it you can't show men apart from your brother, dad, grandfather, children etc (anyone you physically can't marry) but in front of girls and very young children you can take it off or wear less modest clothes (e.g. non sleeved or short sleeved tops and skirts). Sorry if there is too much info on here, I didn't mean to put so much �� Xx Zaina

      Delete
  26. This is what I find sad- Sonali is meant to be half Indian (yes, HALF Indian) but she had a darker complexion than most Indian/Pakistanis because AG probably wanted people to say that she was black as well. Instead of trying to fit two races in one, another GOTY could have been black instead! Zaina

    ReplyDelete
  27. I, too, was very disappointed in Grace. While she is a cute doll, she doesn't stand out. I am Caucasian, and I love dolls of color! I have two daughter-in-law, both white. One had an Addy doll as a child--it was her favorite doll. My other daughter-in-law didn't play much with dolls, but she has remarked that the only doll she ever really wanted was Addy. My 5 year old owns many, many dolls, but some of her very favorites are an Asian Corolle baby, a black Berenguer baby, and the non-white Hearts 4 Hearts dolls. She doesn't care about race or color; I believe she simply loves seeing the diversity in all the sweet faces. Just because a girl is Caucasian doesn't mean she will only identify or want to play with a doll that looks just like her; on the contrary, I think she will be drawn to something unlike herself, and see the beauty in something different.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I just wanted to say thank you for this post (and all of your other posts). I was so looking forward to the GOTY 2015 because she lives in my state, enjoys my primary hobby of baking, and her name is my daughter's middle name. If she'd been Asian she'd have been perfect and I'd have snapped her up in a heartbeat (I'm half Asian and if there'd been a doll like me available when I was saving up for my first American Girl doll in 1990 I'd have snapped her up. (got Kirsten instead because my best friend already had Samantha). Unfortunately, Grace was, well... vanilla. As soon as I saw her photos I went online and instead bought myself a gorgeous Jess doll in near-perfect condition (score!), who will soon be making her appearance on AG Collectors forum.

    ReplyDelete
  29. One that I've come across lately is "But WHY do you hate Grace? WHY do you want a DOC for GOTY in 2016?" and other attempts at derailing the argument of a DOC GOTY in 2016. Sometimes I think these people feel horribly threatened by the idea of a DOC in the GOTY line.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like I said before,
      Stupid people.
      Stupid people everywhere.
      Le sigh.
      -Etta

      Delete
  30. Here's another dumb retort/argument: "But now you are being racist to white people!"
    My answer: "No, I'm not. We have not had a single full blooded GOTY since Marisol. We are not being racist, we just want more representation in the line. It's time for a change, how do you think POCs feel, not being repesented, apparently not being special enough to have a GOTY like them. We are not being racist towards white people, and while Grace is cute, and her story is good, she is could have been a doll of colour. We have had white year after year after year, and like I said, a little change won't hurt. Let's face it, if the can risk money on a 500$ bakery, then I think they could risk a doll of colour."
    Stupid people.
    Stupid people everywhere.
    Le sigh.
    Also, feel free to correct or improve on this I *might* have come up with this on the spot.
    -Etta
    -

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    1. I've added in your argument and written the comeback. Thanks!

      Delete
  31. So true. I felt the same about our generation, until I saw a recent toy hunting video. Our generation now has non white dolls.
    Seriously AG! Wait until the media calls you out. Although, I fear they never will.

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    1. OG has always had one dark skinned doll with a unique face mold but she's like the elusive white whale in stores (now there are three sharing the still original face mold whereas the white dollies all got a new mold several years ago) depending on where you live. Target ships by demographic - surprise! Battat seems ok with their formula and it seems to be based on what they can provide and not what will sell.

      Mattel just doesn't care. Barbies are pink as all dolls should be (to them). AG has become Barbie 2.0

      Delete
  32. Amen to all everyone is saying here.

    I am (and was) a white girl growing up who REALLY wanted a "doll of color". This was the 80's, so there really wasn't ANY company out there who made anything other than the blonde haired, blue eyed dolls which looked like me. I now own a JLY #1 doll, and am bidding on an Addy doll who REALLY needs some TLC. If I get her (which seems to be difficult... the DoC dolls on eBay are QUITE POPULAR), I'm going to do a "doll makeover". I want to stay true to ethnicity, and not re-wig the doll with a "white girl's version of ethnic hair." I hope that doesn't sound bad... I don't mean it as such. The way that AG/Mattel has reworked the "Addy" face mold dolls-- how MOST of the JLY dolls now have "untextured", "white girl hair"-- well, it's one of those O_O moments. WHY NOT an AA or other DoC doll with braids? Or with "natural" hair?

    The whole, "A DoC GOTY wouldn't sell, because it's 'too ethnic' and girls outside of that ethnicity wouldn't want to play with her..." blah blah blah is pure and simple, unadulterated, RACIST BULLSHIT. It's an EXCUSE for corporate racism, and it's an attitude that I believe ultimately helps promote racism in society. How the EFF can they say something won't sell, when they've never tried it? The Marisol GOTY was one of the TOP sellers-- if I remember correctly, she sold out before the end of the year. Then there's Kanani-- she always commands top dollar on eBay. Josefina remains popular (and her face mold has spawned countless other dolls). And Addy is likewise popular. But Marisol was in 2005. A good decade has gone by. The girls who had her are likely in their late teens, maybe even in college.

    Another thing which bothers me-- no movie has ever been made for Addy. Felicity had one. Samantha had one. Molly got one. Kit did too. But no Addy movie... why? Are they afraid it wouldn't be popular? Are they afraid that "white America" wouldn't watch it? That's an asinine group of arguments. That was said about the Annie remake (with a mainly AA cast), and, well, that movie did quite nicely at the box office. IF an Addy movie is ever made, and I say it's a damn fine idea, the lead/titular actress of Annie, Quvenzhané Wallis, would be a GREAT Addy, IMHO.

    But I doubt it'll happen. Mattel supposedly prides itself on being "all inclusive", yet doesn't include all races. It gives ethnic dolls a whitewashing, and takes away from their potential by doing so. They also have only lightly touched on the issue of disability-- McKenna having a learning disability, has a sports injury, blah blah. More lip service.

    You're right, Nonna... AG IS Barbie 2.0. And Mattel, for all their "corporate policies", is full of sh*t. They won't care until prominent members of society-- actresses, politicians, businesspeople, members of the media-- call them on their shit. But like Anonymous says, I fear the media won't give a damn. They won't call attention to this issue, because let's face it: men and women "of color" aren't represented in mainstream media. There aren't many news anchors, reporters, etc., on a national level, who are anything other than "WASP-y", for lack of a better way of putting it.

    Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Maybe we had a different selection in the Pacific Northwest, because in the late 80s (when I was three or four), I wanted and got a "dark brown Barbie" with my birthday money. I wanted a doll who looked like my friend/next door neighbor, who was black. Still, you're right that there's less representation of minorities.

      I would LOVE an Addy movie! I wish I'd seen the play.

      Delete
  33. here another dumb argument
    "if this were the other way around,and there were lots of girls of color but 2 whites would you be doing the same thing your doing for the DoC?"
    my answer= Yes, Damn Yes because i like white dolls too i have 4 if there were way more DoC than whites i would stand against it even if im black.

    ReplyDelete
  34. White girls won't want non-white dolls? According to WHAT? I'm white, and I wanted Marisol so, so badly! And I don't even dance! I think it's because she had a cat on her cover and I was cat-crazy as a kid. But I got her! I wanted Jess and Addy, I know that for sure, but I didn't get them. I also got Kaya from my late grandmother, and she's my favorite because of the sentimental value. (My grandmother, for what it's worth, was a Southern woman born in 1930. And she didn't take offense to me having non-white dolls. What excuse to do some of these people have?)

    I didn't really read Grace's stories, but I'm sure you could have swapped Ella for Grace and not much would have changed. Sure, some stories for non-white dolls would revolve around their ethnicities, but you could easily make something that's relatable for all girls. Marisol's heritage was definitely present in her story, but the main plot - she was moving and she didn't want to leave her neighborhood and her friends behind - is very relatable to anybody. My lily-white Southern mother moved around a lot as a kid, so if American Girls had been around when she was a kid, she might have been able to relate to Marisol for that reason. I volunteer at an animal shelter and have always been animal-crazy, so if you wrote a story about a little black girl who volunteered at an animal shelter, I'd be all over that, and as a kid I guarantee you that my mother would have never heard the end of it. Even if you wrote a story about an Indian immigrant girl trying to fit in with her American classmates, if she had liked drawing, I might be interested there because I've always liked drawing. My point is, white kids don't need dolls that look like them to be relatable. There are other ways to be similar. (And, of course, my 9-year-old half-Mexican Little from Big Brothers Big Sisters could maybe relate to lily-white Lanie because they both like science, but the difference is I have more options of white dolls than she does of Latina dolls.)

    Side note: Clearly American Girl is capable of making adorable non-white dolls. See Sonali, Jess, Marisol, Kanani, Cecile (I want her so bad because she reminds me of Aveline from Assassin's Creed), Kaya, the Sonali mold Truly Me dolls, Truly me #58 (I want about fifteen of Truly Me #58 because she's facesplodingly adorable and reminds me of a friend of mine). So they should do that more often because they're some of my favorites.

    They really need a Native one because of the pervasive belief that Native Americans are all in the past. For a line based on American history, they definitely need at least one Native doll (preferably more, because there's more to Native history than just one tribe in the 1760s), but there also needs to be a modern one or two. Or four.

    After they get done with some fully-something dolls I'd really like to see a half-black-half-Asian doll with the Jess mold, dark skin, and Truly Me #58's hair. I made an edit of one like that once. My editing skills are crap but it was really cute, all things considered.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I am a white person who owns a black doll. My first best friend was black, and although she was the only ethnic person in our neighborhood at the time, she played with my other friends, too. I don't see why anyone wouldn't by a doll of color, personally. I used to get just as mad that all my dolls had blond hair and blue eyes and I had caramel hair and green eyes. Same principle. We are diverse culturally, so why shouldn't our collections be?!

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  36. I am a white person who owns a black doll. My first best friend was black, and although she was the only ethnic person in our neighborhood at the time, she played with my other friends, too. I don't see why anyone wouldn't by a doll of color, personally. I used to get just as mad that all my dolls had blond hair and blue eyes and I had caramel hair and green eyes. Same principle. We are diverse culturally, so why shouldn't our collections be?!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I agree we need more variety beside white I want a latina that dances mariachi music with a beautiful Mexican dress or a jamaican , Asian etc etc

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  38. I'm a white mom of a biracial kid who stumbled across this thoughtful essay because I am really, hoping that the next GOTY is not white.

    My mom bought my Eurasian daughter a plush type African American doll when she was a baby. I thought that was a nice idea but assumed this doll would take a secondary role after the extremely expensive Eurasian doll that I bought for her. Surprise! My baby girl loved the African American doll more than all of her other toys combined. Five years later, she still loves that doll more than any other toy. Where is it written that kids of all colors can't naturally desire and love African American dolls? Mine always has. I assume that she always will!

    While I think that it would be great for my daughter to have an Asian AG GOTY doll, the truth is that she would prefer an African American. Just not another white one, please. It's boring and not constructive when they all look like.

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  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  40. As I child between my sister and I we had Asian, White, Black and Hispanic dolls because we loved our dolls to look different from one another and we thought they were all so beautiful. Our parents never told us that we should have dolls that all resembled us so we didn't really think they needed to. Now as an adult (Nanny not parent) I am so surprised how many adults push children into picking out a doll with a race that "matches" their own when children don't naturally see things that way. Whenever I see a children's book that features a child of color I pick it up and put it in my bag of books I take to read to children. The world is a diverse place and all peoples should be represented!

    ReplyDelete
  41. wow, your rude. i dont care what color you are . i am mixed race but it shoulnt matter. your angry , rude ..if i owned a doll company , on purpose i wouldnt make the kind of doll you want cause you dont seem like a nice human being .. that counts more than color , race, or political correctness. your a bad example for people of color and anti christian ? your like a black version of hitler.you take the fun out of doll collecting and play /fantasy with your bitching ..maybe its cause of angry hateful people like you who cry racism all the time , people like you add nothing postive to the world and im NOT talking about your freekin skin color ...thats so petty ..its what a person is on the INSIDE that counts ..

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That's a lot of words to say "I don't care about representation, I only care about myself; furthermore, I'd like the black woman to shut up because what she has to say makes me uncomfortable." Oh, and good job on trying to bait me into deleting your words. I sincerely doubt you are mixed, you are likely lying to say anything. And yes, if your definition of Christian is "to oppress people of color" then I am anti-your faith.

      Black version of Hitler? Really? In this fucked up America that came in on Nov 8th. How about you go get some damn perspective, and also shut up a lot, and also stick a drumstick up your nose.

      If the only way you can have fun in doll collecting is to have a lack of representation, and to call a black woman a slur, then I sincerely hope you never ever have fun again and every time you try it feels like less than nothing. I hope all the joy is sucked out of your life and you're as miserable as you tried to make me feel.

      Catch a boat and get out of my life.

      P.S. It's "you're", the contraction of "you are". "your" is a possessive. On the internet we are made of words and you insist on showing up with your hands and nose purposefully cut off.

      Delete
    2. Hey anon, you're a troll clearly aiming to get attention by repeating garbage you've heard racist adults say. And it kind of worked, sort of. But guess what? You're not as anonymous as you think you are. Nethilia has a tracker for visitors and has your ISP address, location, and other information. While she graciously responded to your hateful little comments by actually addressing them, she could've just posted your information, which is what I probably would have done, since there doesn't seem to be much reasoning with trolls, especially those using racism. I'd suggest if you really want to stay anonymous, you maybe apologize and then go play elsewhere, may I suggest here?
      http://screamintothevoid.com/

      Delete
    3. That's pretty precious and ironic that you want to bring a literal fascist into this discussion, seeing as how you're trying to silence a woman of color who's faced more in just a few years than your precious garbage ass will. Your hate speech comes from a place of ignorance, bitterness, and filth. Everyone can see how ugly your heart is and they'll respond to your ugliness in person too.

      Delete
    4. well your "inside" sounds quite honestly dreadful, ignorant, and abysmal, if you really wanna focus on that.

      Delete
  42. i bet you will delete the above comment about your rudeness ..and what is inside that counts and dont take fun of of doll collecting with your politcal crap .how predictable

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope your life is as unhappy as you have tried to make mine.

      Delete
    2. Translation from Anon: "Please delete the above comment! I'm just a poor little white 13-year-old that didn't know people could trace who says what on the Internet and don't want my parents to find out what I said!"

      In short, how predictable. Find a better use of your time.

      Delete
  43. AHJ GET HYPE FOR GOTY 2017 SHE IS NLACK AHH GET HYYPE

    ReplyDelete

Trolling, pointless bigotry, and hating for the sake of hating will be removed, as will any post screaming "first" because no one cares. Cursing is fine, as I curse myself. I still expect you to act like you have home training. This is not a Free Speech Zone. I reserve the right to delete comments or tell you to piss off. You post, you stand by your words, and all the consequences of those words, even if that consequence is getting your ass handed back to you. Don't come in my space, spit on my floor, and expect me to call it a swimming pool. I can and will cuss your entire ass out. If I told you not to comment, and you comment, your comments will be deleted.

If you are under 13 your comments will be removed; you're too young to be on the internet unsupervised and you know it.