There’s a new American Girl doll out, and it has an LGBTQ storyline. And, of course, homophobes are boycotting it.
The American Girl dolls have been a longstanding franchise of merchandise. The dolls have lasted through multiple generations of customers and families. Each doll is given its own name and backstory to show the diversity of American life. The dolls were so popular that there are several stores/restaurants dedicated to the brand and multiple live-action film adaptions.
At the end of 2020, Mattel revealed its “2021 Girl of the Year,” a 10-year-old named Kira Bailey from Michigan. Bailey is passionate about climate change and its negative impact on wildlife. In addition, Kira Bailey’s accompanying book, Kira Down Under, follows her visiting an animal sanctuary in Australia operated by her great-aunts Mamie and Lynette. That’s right, Kira Bailey has lesbian aunts.
— American Girl (@American_Girl) January 3, 2021
Keep in mind, this isn’t the first time that an American Girl doll and adjoining book included some sort of LGBTQ aspect, according to Yahoo Life. The advice book A Smart Girl’s Guide to Boys was updated to A Smart Girl’s Guide: Crushes. In addition, the book included same-sex relationships in its discussion. Then later this month, American Girl will publish the book Pets, featuring a mix-race family with two dads.
That said, Kira Bailey is the first flagship American Girl doll and character with a same-sex relationship in its backstory. It even mentions that the aunts got married “after the law was changed to allow it.” This is a reference to Australia’s legalization of gay marriage after the country held a public vote on the matter.
Unfortunately, there has been some homophobic pushback to the new doll. American Girl collector Rebecca Nachman shared on TikTok some of the franchise’s fans are up in arms at the lesbian aunt inclusion.
“Here’s all the drama in the American Girl world that’s gone down in just the last three days,” she said online. “The other day, it was leaked that the new ‘Girl of the Year’ was going to have lesbian aunts and people lost their goddamn minds. There was so much blatant homophobia in all these American Girl Facebook groups I’m in and it was horrific.”
Some collectors and fans have also announced a boycott of the company and have expressed their anger through Amazon reviews, according to Pink News.
“Homosexuality is an inappropriate topic for a children’s book and I am very disappointed that it was woven so blatantly into the storyline for Kira,” one angry fan wrote.
“The storyline is inappropriate and far too mature for young readers,” wrote another. “Parents are not informed of lesbian relationship in the story.”
In response to the homophobic pushback, the American Girl company says they won’t back down.
“From the beginning, our ‘Girl of the Year’ characters have been designed to reflect girls’ lives today and the realities of the times,” Julie Parks, an American Girl spokesperson, told Yahoo Life.
She then added, “As a brand, we’ve always strived to share the message that there’s no ‘magic recipe’ for a family and that families can be made up of all kinds of ingredients – and each is unique and lovely.”
“We know for girls who can directly relate to Kira’s circumstances (i.e. a father who has passed away or a couple in a same-sex marriage), we’re glad to show them that the make-up of one’s family doesn’t matter – it’s still a family and that’s all the counts,” Parks said before concluding with, “It’s a sentiment we love at American Girl.”