The latest 'Girl of the Year' from dollmaker American Girl is making history
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
Makers of American Girl dolls have made their latest move in racial representation. It's a fraught topic for toy companies who've struggled for years with criticism of the messages their products send. For example, is Barbie too thin or too blond?
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And do dolls look like the kids who play with them? Years ago, the American Girl line included a Chinese American doll who ended up in my house. She was discontinued, drawing protests. Now the company is promoting a new Chinese American character, who was labeled the company's Girl of the Year. And her fans include Mina Fedor.
MINA FEDOR: Growing up, I actually didn't have many dolls that looked like me. Yeah. I would have loved to have this kind of doll when I was growing up.
MARTINEZ: Mina is 13. She's an eighth grader from Piedmont, Calif. She comes into the story because Mattel, the company that owns the American Girl franchise, sent money to a group she's part of. The company is donating $25,000 to a student-led nonprofit. The group wants schools to teach one day a year of Asian American history.
FEDOR: So important to celebrate our stories. We feel like that sort of funding could definitely help with some of our campaigns and pursuits in education.
INSKEEP: Now, what's all this have to do with a doll? Corinne Tan, the new AG character, is depicted facing some realistic issues in daily life. The dolls come with books that tell their stories. And in one, a boy in mid-pandemic tells Corinne she has kung flu.
FEDOR: She actually stands up to xenophobia during her story. And Girl of the Year dolls have often highlighted social issues.
INSKEEP: Like any well-rounded doll, Corinne also has stories of skiing and a rescue puppy, which of course lead to doll accessories that AG would like you to buy. But along with those accessories, the company is selling social awareness.
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