Jan 5, 2022 - Economy

Chinese American doll named "Girl of the Year”

two Chinese American dolls from American Girl shown on a fake ski slope with a toy dog

American Girl doll Corinne Tan and her little sister, Gwynn. Photo: Business Wire

American Girl, owned by Mattel, released a Chinese American doll for its “Girl of the Year” collection.

Why it matters: Corinne Tan, the character’s name, is the first Chinese American doll in the 21-year history of the limited edition line. 

  • Girls of the Year are intended to give “voice to a diverse range of … backgrounds,” the company says.
  • The brand’s first Chinese American doll was discontinued in 2014.

The big picture: The nearly 40-year-old toy brand’s decision is part of a broader set of corporate actions made in response to attacks against Asians in the wake of the pandemic. 

One of Tan’s storylines involves being told she has “Kung flu” at a skating rink.

  • After watching her mom confront a man making a racist joke outside their family restaurant, she learns “the words and courage” to stand up to her own racist bully.

About the doll: With “newly designed eyes,” the doll is 18 inches tall and has straight black hair with turquoise streaks. 

  • The intrigue: The company consulted with advisers on her features, but colored streaks are part of a common stereotype for East Asian women.
  • The doll is the third Girl of the Year in recent years to have this hairstyle and the highlights reflect “one of the biggest hair trends for tween and teenage girls today,” Julie Parks, PR director at American Girl, tells Axios.
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