American Girl is defending their decision to retire two racially diverse dolls. On May 20, the popular doll company made the announcement through social media. The retired dolls will include Ruthie, Marie-Grace, Cecile, and Ivy.
Although the Ruthie and Marie-Grace dolls are Caucasian, Cecile is black and Ivy is Asian. The announcement was met with stark criticism, as it limits the availability of racially diverse dolls.
The retired dolls were featured as side-kicks in the Historical Characters collection. The main collection will continue to include dolls of several races, including black, Native American, and Hispanic. However, American Girl will no longer offer an Asian doll.
As reported by ABC News, commenter Jeane Buccigross was disappointed with the decision:
“Seriously AG … You are getting rid of the ONLY Asian girl in your historical line-up. It was disappointing enough that she was only a ‘side-kick’ doll to Julie, but she was better than nothing… which is what we have now. How can the historical line represent American if there are no Asians?”
Commenter Amanda Pielecha Sauter has similar concerns. Sauter said “there definitely needs to be a better representation of the vast diversity that makes up America.”
Although the decision was strongly criticized, American Girl has defended the choice. In an official statement, the company explained that the dolls were not discontinued due to their appearance or race. The doll company actually retired all four side-kick dolls, as they plan to reorganize their Historical Character collection.
In their statement, American Girl said they made a “decision to move away from [the] friend-character strategy.” The company also explained that Cecile and Ivy are the first and only racially diverse dolls that were ever discontinued. In contrast, the company has discontinued “a total of nine Caucasian characters since 2008.”
Ruthie, Marie-Grace, Cecile, and Ivy, will be available for a limited time. However, the dolls and their accessories are in short supply.
The Historical Collection is expected to re-launch this fall, with several new dolls, books, and accessories. Although the race of the dolls is unknown, American Girl has underlined their commitment to offer a diverse variety of dolls.
Although their Historical Collection is limited, customers still have the option of designing their own doll, wish a variety of hair and skin color options.
In reply to a Yahoo article about the retire dolls, commenter Crystal explained that her daughters “never paid any attention to [the dolls’] race.” Instead, “they simply picked the dolls that they liked the best.”
Crystal said “the children don’t really care” about the color of their dolls’ skin. She suggests that the parents are the only ones who are upset about the retired American Girl dolls.