American Girl unveils doll with hearing loss

If you were a pre-teen girl in the 90s like me, you probably wanted an American Girl doll more than anything. I devoured the books about Samantha, Kirsten, Molly and Addy and loved their stories about growing up during the different periods of American history.

Mattel bought the company several years ago (ruining the brand, in my opinion) and in recent years have made an effort to have more diverse figures in their line up of toys. Today, the company announced their newest release: Joss Kendrick, a doll that has hearing loss.

Honestly, I’m kind of torn on this one. My knee-jerk reaction was, THIS IS STUPID. Dolls can’t hear! Why in the world would it matter if a doll comes with hearing aids if it has no use for them.

Then I thought about all the kids that are born with hearing loss and how they might actually like to see something that looks like them.

According to a press release from Mattel, the doll is “a fierce athlete born with hearing loss and a passion for surfing and competitive cheer” and “joins American Girl’s lineup of inspirational characters who impart meaningful life lessons to help girls learn and grow with confidence. Whether she’s on her surfboard or in the gym, Joss shows girls the importance of trying new things, pushing past stereotypes, and being a good team player.”

Joss will get her own two book series and the company will partner with  Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), which is, according to the press release, “the nation’s leading nonprofit representing people with hearing loss, with a $25,000 donation to support the organization’s education and awareness programs.”

So I guess in the end, this is not such a terrible thing. And in 2020 maybe we ought to focus our outrage on stuff that’s not so trivial. Happy New Year everyone!


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