American Girl Discontinues Only Asian Doll and One of Two Black Dolls

American GirlAs the United States becomes more diverse, American Girl dolls become less so. The company has updated its line to exclude Ivy, its only Asian doll, and Cecile, one of its two Black dolls.

Customer backlash was intense. On the American Girl Facebook page, one critic wrote, "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?"

The company says it is moving away from dolls sold in pairs to focus on dolls sold individually. The four shown here are part of the historical line.

American Girl issued a statement, which ABC News posted, in part:

"At nearly one million strong, we're proud of the relationships we've built with our dedicated Facebook community. Our fans are very passionate and many of our posts generate a high level of engagement, including comments, likes and shares. Certainly we know that whenever we announce that a character is archiving, it will cause some level of disappointment, especially among our most ardent fans… While demand for characters certainly plays a part in our overall decision making, the main reason for this year's approach is based on the decision to move away from our friend-character strategy within the historical line. This decision affected Marie-Grace, Ruthie, as well as Ivy and Cecile-the first two racially diverse characters to be archived by American Girl. In comparison, American Girl will be archiving a total of nine Caucasian characters since 2008."

Discussion Starters:

  • Should American Girl have anticipated the backlash? Should that have changed the company's decision to "archive" these characters? 
  • How do you assess the American Girl statement? What works well, and what could be improved?