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American Girl Dolls: Fostering Strong Inclusive and Diverse Play in 2020


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What girl doesn’t love American Girl Dolls? They’ve long been known as some of the best 18″ dolls out there, making the top of all little girls’ birthday and Christmas lists for years. But they’ve come a long way since their catalog-only days. From retail stores with cafes and doll hospitals, a magazine, books, and a social media presence, American Girl and the dolls they create have really made a huge impact in the world of toys, especially with how young girls see themselves today.

The All American Girl Dolls

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Since 1986, American Girl has dedicated themselves to designing and producing products that, along with parents, help raise strong, confident girls with important values like honesty, courage, kindness, and compassion. With the first launch of their Historical characters Samantha, Kirsten, and Molly, girls were transported to a different time to see the roles women and girls played in history. Those 18″ dolls, accessories, and books along with the addition to the line with characters like Addy, Josefina, and more helped tackle important, but difficult topics like poverty, slavery, and war. They each were from different time periods, social classes, and faiths giving girls introductions into lives that may be exactly alike, or far unlike, their own.

Over the years, American Girl Dolls have evolved and grown to include a large and diverse array of products to help girls build strong character and discover a strong sense of self. From Bitty Baby to WellieWishers, girls have so many different options to choose from. But it’s their Truly Me Dolls and option to Create Your Own Custom American Girl Dolls that really demonstrate what American Girl Dolls were truly meant to be about.

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Highlighting Diversity & Style

Girls, and even boys, today can truly find or create a doll that looks identical to them, in 18″ doll form. There are so many options to mix and match. Whether they have pale or dark skin, curly short, or long straight hair, they’re sure to find a mix of features that give them a strong sense of representation. Minorities are specifically represented with a variety of 6 different skin tone color options, and multiple hair choices from textured hair to natural curls, long and straight to short pixie cuts.

There are also pink hair color options too. For children who have little to no hair, as with the condition Alopecia or a child who may be going through chemo, American Girls offers Truly Me Dolls with no hair.

Even the shape of the doll’s face can be edited between 5 options to really create a unique doll. For children who have a particularly special facial feature like freckles or different colored eyes, American Girl offers the option to put them on a doll. It’s a one-of-a-kind toy special to the child that created it.

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Embracing Individuality

For minority situations like glasses (there are 6 colors and shapes to choose from), braces, or hearing aids (for one or both ears), it’s as easy as just adding them onto the doll while ordering. Even the 2020 Girl of the Year, Joss, is hard of hearing and comes complete with her own hearing aid.

Where American Girl takes personalization and inclusion to an incredible level, is in the accessories. Of course there is not a shortage on accessories for sports, actvities, and general play. But for children with disabilities, whether short or long term, dolls can be outfitted to really show them that they’re not alone. The Diabetes Set, Asthma & Allergies Set, Arm Crutches, Wheelchair, and Service Dog Vest show children that they, and their disabilities, are included and are nothing to be ashamed of. It’s amazing how much just giving them the option to add it can really put a smile on a child’s face.

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Inclusion is incredibly important for children. It’s not just about giving the options to children with those minority features and disabilities to include them on their own doll, but also shows children without them that they’re equally as important. It makes a huge difference in building confidence and developing character for children. It’s exactly what American Girl is all about.

Check out this article on 20 Awesome Toys & Books to Help with Virtual Learning.

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I am a father of three and my wife is a registered nurse specialized in children.

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