Updated: Sep 21, 2021
On Thursday, during American Girl's fashion show at their store in New York City, a brand new line of dolls will be revealed! The new line of dolls is called World By Us, and this post is dedicated to explaining the mission behind these dolls, who they are and when you can purchase them!
For starters, here is the line's logo:
American Girl had a contemporary doll line that was not World By Us or related to Girls of the Year in the past, but the rumors say that the line was only created as an opportunity to not shelve Tenney Grant and Logan Everett when AG decided to make Gabriela McBride Girl of the Year 2017, and Z Yang was just an easy addition. All four dolls were discontinued at the end of 2018. But enough rambling about the former contemporary line, let's talk about World By Us!
This doll line has a different backstory than most. Many companies during the summer of 2020 saw racism as a key issue due to the Black Lives Matter protests going on that summer and made plans to commit to anti-racism. While most companies donated money to various charities and called it a day, American Girl saw an opportunity to explain racism and related issues to their target audience and started developing the World By Us doll line, among other resources and donations.
The doll line was first teased on American Girl's Twitter account last year, around the time Courtney Moore released. Someone asked about AG's commitment to diversity, and they responded with this: "We’re pleased to share that we’re currently developing a new line that includes a contemporary lead Black character, as well as other contemporary characters of color, to debut in late fall 2021.” Since then, American Girl fans around the world, including me, have been wondering about who these dolls are.
The doll line will kick off with three characters: Makena Williams, Evette Peeters and Maritza Ochoa. Makena, Evette and Maritza all know each other, are 13 years old, and are in seventh grade at a middle school in Washington D.C.
Makena Williams is the lead character of the World By Us line. She is African-American and into fashion.
Makena's book is titled Makena: See Me, Hear Me, Know Me. The author is Denise Lewis Patrick, who is known in the AG community for writing the Cecile and Melody books. The illustrator is Courtney Lovett, who is African-American and draws African-American and Black characters.
"Thirteen-year-old Makena Williams has a passion for fashion. She loves putting clothes together in unexpected ways. When school went virtual because of the pandemic, Makena started sharing her style by posting her OOTD (outfit of the day). Now she's back to school in person and meeting some of her fashion followers for the first time. Clothes are a way for Makena to connect with others-like her new friends, Evette and Maritza. But some people don't see Makena for who she is. They only see her as a Black girl, and they make unfair assumptions. After a hurtful incident in her own neighborhood, Makena discovers how to use fashion to speak up about injustice."
Evette Peeters is a biracial conservationist. Her book is written by Sharon Dennis Wyeth, who is African-American and writes about African-Americans, so it can be assumed Evette is partially African-American. Her book is illustrated by Olivia Duchess, who also draws African-American characters.
Evette's book is called Evette: The River and Me.
"Evette learns the rift in her family was caused by racism and organizes a river cleanup where she invites her friends and family, including both of her grandmothers, hoping they can make amends."
Maritza Ochoa is a Latina soccer player. Her book is written by Angela Cervantes, who is Mexican, and illustrated by Caroline Garcia, who is Brazilian.
Maritza's book is called Maritza: Lead with Your Heart.
"Seventh-grader Maritza Ochoa learns to lead on and off the soccer field as she organizes community support for her teammate Violeta whose family member is being detained by immigration officials and who has a secret of her own Maritza promises to keep."
While the first characters are Makena, Evette and Maritza, more dolls might come from this line in the future. Names trademarked around the same time the first three names were include Aracely (a Latina name), Bryant, Fahari (a name used in the Muslim community), Ning (a Chinese name) and Isabel.
To finish off this post, here are some sneak peeks!
The dolls will be revealed at a fashion show in collaboration with the organization Harlem Row at the American Girl store in New York City on Thursday, September 23rd at 5:30 pm Eastern time. If you can't make it to the fashion show, it will be streamed live on Facebook.
Who's excited? I have a virtual school club meeting on Thursday (which conveniently ends at 5), but after that I will be running to Facebook Live to watch the big reveal!