Girl Doll that has a disability.
As a former American Girl obsessee (back when there were only three dolls- Kirsten, Samantha and Molly) I have strong memories of the lessons I learned from reading the books and acting out their adventures. As new dolls were added I devoured those stories as well (a highlight of my childhood was meeting Valerie Tripp, one of the series' authors). Yes, the books were formulaic but that certainly didn't bother my second grade self. The history I learned through these books changed much of my small town perspective on the world.
I can imagine the 8, 9, and 10 year old me sitting on the floor of my bedroom reading the books about the new doll with a disability and just how that would change my perspective and open my eyes to people who struggle with disabilities. Much like books like "Rules" and "Wonder" this doll and books would create an empathetic connection that would open a conversation about disabilities for our young girls.
From The Pleasant Company's perspective I could see a bit of political resistance. How do you select a disability that will represent all disabilities? And how do you represent that disability in its most natural and kindest light without offending someone? I've heard people with disabilities complain about other people using person-first language (saying a child with autism instead of autistic child) so even when you are politically correct you can't please everyone.
The category of people with disabilities is a large, ever growing category that encompasses many different types of disabilities. The Pleasant Company will have to put a lot of thoughtful research into determining how to best create the doll. I will be very interested in their process in determining what to create. Will they look at producing a doll that will please most people or will they come at it from what they want their take-away message to be and then determine how they can create a doll that will deliver that message?
Dear Pleasant Company- if you are looking for help with this let me know!
Frankly, it doesn't matter too much what they decide- if they make it I'll buy the doll regardless.
Here's the petition: