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Top 5 Most Controversial American Girl Dolls

Updated: Aug 20

American Girl dolls are known for covering many real-life issues, yet because of the controversial nature of some topics, specific dolls have generated a few sets of controversy, whether from hate groups, representation groups, and the public at large. Today, I will be talking about the 5 most controversial American Girl dolls and why they were considered controversial.

5. Cecile Rey and Ivy Ling

Cecile and Ivy, who are on the right, aren't paired together usually, but with this specific controversy, they were. And the fact that they were produced wasn't controversial - it was the fact that they were discontinued. In May 2014, American Girl announcing that they were discontinuing 4 different dolls - Ruthie, Marie-Grace, Cecile, and Ivy, in order to phase out the Best Friends line. However, Cecile was only one of two African American dolls available at the time, and Ivy was (and still is) the only Asian American historical doll to be released. The public at large, as well as Asian American advocates, pushed back against the retirements due to representation issues, but Cecile and Ivy were still discontinued. Since their retirement, five more African American characters have been released, and two more Asian American characters have been released. However, both Corinne (who is of Chinese descent) and Kavi (who is of Indian descent) are modern dolls, and there has not been another Asian American doll released since.

4. Kira Bailey

Kira Bailey was American Girl's 2021 Girl of the Year, an animal lover who travels to her aunts' wildlife sanctuary in Australia. Yes, that's aunts plural. Since before Kira was born, her aunt Mamie was in a relationship with another woman named Lynette, and they married once same-sex marriages were legalized in Australia. However, the conservative hate group One Million Moms took offense to the depiction of a same-sex couple in Kira's books, and they petitioned unsuccessfully to retire the Kira doll and books. It is worth mentioning that American Girl has been the target of boycotts from anti-LGBT activists four times (in 2005, 2015, 2021 and 2022), but Kira was the only one tied to a specific doll.

3. Addy Walker

Addy Walker was a breakthrough doll for American Girl. Representing the Civil War and life as an enslaved person escaping the South and finding freedom in the North, Addy was the first Black doll and doll of color from American Girl. She was the first doll to have a different mold, hair texture, skin color and was an introduction to the concept of slavery for many girls. However, among recent years, the Internet has been divided over whether introducing a doll that deals with slavery was a good idea. There are many articles about the impact of Addy, including this one written in 2015 by future American Girl author Brit Bennett, but one thing is for sure - because she touched on a heavy subject, Addy has made her mark on doll history and many childhoods forever.

2. Marisol Luna

Released in 2005, Marisol Luna was the third Girl of the Year and the first Girl of the Year of color, representing the Chicano Mexican community of Plisen, Chicago. However, this community didn't like Marisol all that much, because of a passage in her book (about leaving Plisen for the suburbs) saying that Plisen was 'dangerous' and had no places to play. This led to physical protests outside the American Girl store in Chicago, and while Marisol stayed Girl of the Year until year's end, book author Gary Soto retired from children's literature after the controversy.

  1. Gwen Thompson

The controversy surrounding Gwen Thompson, a friend doll to 2009 Girl of the Year Chrissa Maxwell, can be summed up in a few words. "$95 Homeless Doll". While Gwen wasn't homeless per say, she was living in a homeless shelter during Chrissa's first book, and eventually moved into an apartment. It was mentioned that Gwen lived in her mom's car at one point, too. Because of the price of the doll and the story, people described Gwen as 'dubious' and made a big deal about her, and the controversy caused AG to shy away from tackling bigger issues in the early 2010s.

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