On January 1st, the American Girl Doll company will say goodbye to Saige, their 2013 Girl of the Year, and we will meet the 2014 Girl of the Year who – so far – has been shrouded in mystery. According to my 7-year-old, who has been trying to discover any and all clues, the only thing we know is that she has long hair (there is a silhouette of her in the teaser ads).
But one little girl has high hopes that someday the Girl of the Year won’t be different just in her hair, eye, or skin color, but she will be different in one other big way; 10-year-old Melissa Shang is petitioning the America Girl Doll company to create a disabled Doll of the Year.
Melissa is disabled herself, she has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a form of muscular dystrophy and she uses a wheelchair. She’s been a big American Girl Doll fan since she was seven, diving into their narratives, reading the books, seeing all the movies and going to the American Girl Doll Place in New York City. And although she loves all the dolls, and she had learned much from their stories, she would like to see a doll that reflects her reality, a doll where girls can learn about lives like hers. She want to see the story of a disabled girl.
Melissa has crafted a petition to get the attention of the American Girl Doll company and is looking to get 10,000 supporters to sign her Change.org petition.
She wrote in her statement:
“For once, I don’t want to be invisible or a side character that the main American Girl has to help: I want other girls to know what it’s like to be me, through a disabled American Girl’s story.
Disabled girls might be different from normal kids on the outside. They might sit in a wheelchair like I do, or have some other difficulty that other kids don’t have. However, we are the same as other girls on the inside, with the same thoughts and feelings. American Girls are supposed to represent all the girls that make up American history, past and present. That includes disabled girls.”
It’s a poignant story to tell, and one that I’m sure is on the American Girl Doll company’s radar. In fact, there may not be a whole narrative about a disabled American Girl Doll but you can purchase an American Girl Doll wheelchair to create your own story. And the company has tried to make sure there is a doll for most girls. Last year they debuted the My American Girl doll that is made without hair for girls who are “affected by cancer, alopecia, or any medical condition causing hair loss… dolls (that) provide even more possibilities for a girl to create a friend that’s as unique as she is.” And you can also purchase hearing aids for American Girl Dolls, for those with hearing loss.
There are so many American girl stories to tell, let’s hope that this one is included someday.
Is there a narrative you’d like to see from the American Girl Doll company?
Photo Source: American Girl Doll Company/ Available here