Monday, December 30, 2013

Kids Making A Difference: Girl Wants Handicapped Doll

This is Melissa Shang. She's ten years old and obsessed with American Girl dolls. In other words, she's me seven years ago. Except I didn't have a wheelchair. And I just fired off lengthy letters when American Girl did stuff I didn't agree with, like retiring my favorite dolls. She's written to the company's president and started a petition. Click that thingy if you feel like watching a video about it. What does she want? "I've read all the American Girl books and seen all the movies and I'm ready for an American Girl like me."
For those unfamiliar with American Girl, they have three types of dolls. Historical characters come with names, books, and accessories. The 'My American Girl' line are modern and you can do whatever you want with them. Then there's the Girl of the Year, a modern doll with a story, accessories, and usually a movie. That last one is what Shang wants.

The American Girl catalog already has toy service dogs, hearing aids, and yes, hospital style wheelchairs. But what Shang wants is a handicapped doll, with books, a movie, the whole shebang-and she wants it soon.
2014's doll is a dancer named Isabelle. Given how fast they pump out products, I bet there's something on the drawing board for 2015. If her doll comes at all it will take a while. The yearly dolls are usually athletic-they've had a gymnast, an ice skater, and another dancer named Marisol.
But then, American Girl has made a point of including dolls with different races/hobbies/backgrounds, etc. They want as many people to buy their products as possible. If people will buy a handicapped doll, why not?
I love how confident Melissa Shang is. She isn't demanding diversity or scolding the company for not representing every single group out there. She's a girl who believes in herself and her power to make adults in a board room somewhere listen. 

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