When American Girl unveiled its new collection on Tuesday featuring its very first boy doll, the news took the internet by storm. But we think Logan Everett’s introduction may have overshadowed another huge win for diversity.
This week, the iconic doll makers also announced plans to release Native Hawaiian and Korean American characters in 2017.
One is a Korean American filmmaker named Z Yang (second doll from the left in the picture below), and the other is a Native Hawaiian girl named Nanea Mitchell who grew up during the start of World War II (third doll from the right).
Parents and kids have been asking American Girl for characters with “more experiences, more diversity, more interests,” Julie Parks, the company’s director of public relations, previously told The Huffington Post.
The company’s lineup of dolls for 2017 should challenge other toymakers to improve their inclusivity as well.
Super-fans of American Girl will recognize Z Yang, pictured above, as the star of American Girl’s YouTube series #AGZCREW, which has been running since 2015.
She uses her “creativity to connect with others,” the American Girl website says, “and her stories remind girls that everyone has a unique perspective to share ― even if it’s not perfect.”
Z will be available in spring, making her the second Asian American character to grace American Girl’s collection. The first was Ivy Ling, a Chinese American doll who grew up in San Francisco in the 1970s, according to NBC News. Ling was discontinued in 2014 after a seven-year run.
Nanea, pictured above, is a Hawaiian girl who grew up in 1941, during the time of the Pearl Harbor attacks and the start of World War II.
She is a part of American Girl’s BeForever series, which features characters from different eras throughout history, and is the first BeForever character to come dressed in shorts.
American Girl has previously had characters from the WWII era, but Nanea’s experience is “told from a really different perspective,” Stephanie Spanos, company spokesperson, said during a Facebook Live video.
Nanea’s stories teach the value of kokua ― a Hawaiian word that represents selflessness and helping others. She’ll be in stores this fall.