For the first time since conception American Girl has released a doll that includes LGBTQ+ characters in the storyline. But the new doll has sparked an attempted boycott by homophobic collectors.
The iconic American Girl doll franchise became popular in the 1990's. The dolls, each with their own name and book telling the character backstory, are supposed to come from different situations in life relatable to both young and older collectors alike.
Some rarer American Girl dolls have sold for thousands online.
The new doll, Kira Bailey, was the 2021 Girl of the Year who according to her backstory is 10 years old, loves animals and summers in Australia with her two aunts at a wildlife sanctuary. Kira's release sparked backlash because the book briefly mentions that the two aunts were married "after the law was changed to allow it."
The imaginary gay characters being merely mentioned triggered homophobic American Girl fans.
Rebecca Nachman, a collector from Boston, spoke of the controversy playing out in fan groups.
"American Girl collectors continue to be the worst people in the world. People lost their G*ddamn minds, there was so much blatant homophobia in the American Girl Facebook groups I'm in, it was horrific."
"People were saying, 'children are innocent, they shouldn't have to read about sex', as if American Girl is publishing a lesbian porno."
For some the boycott was not enough and they felt the need to form a slew of negative reviews for the doll's book on Amazon with about a third of reviews giving only one star based on the inclusive backstory.
One reviewer stated:
"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."
"The storyline is inappropriate and far too mature for young readers. Parents are not informed of lesbian relationship in the story."
It's not the first time American Girl has been hit with a backlash for supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2005 another homophobic boycott against the brand was organized after it supported Charity Girls Inc. a pro-LGBTQ+ organization and yet again in 2015 after a girl with two dads was in the American Girl magazine.
The American Girl franchise has defended their inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters within a storyline because it is important to the brand's characters to represent our modern world.
A spokesperson for American Girl, Julie Parks said:
"From the beginning, our 'Girl of the Year' characters have been designed to reflect girls' lives today and the realities of the times."
"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."
"It's a sentiment we love at American Girl."
Despite homophobes upset by the dolls, many people are thrilled to see more representation.
We are glad to see brands becoming more inclusive and hope to see more diversity in the future.