A lot has changed in the world of dolls since Barbie premiered in 1959. The classic Barbie look—blonde, blue-eyed, thin, and Caucasian—may still be available, but she is now available in much greater variety. The same is true for many dolls and toy brands. Dolls are now available with various hair and eye colors, skin colors, and body shapes.
This trend towards greater variety—and verity—in dolls are part of a movement to create dolls and toys that look like the children who play with them. The aim is to enable children to more closely identify with the dolls and to avoid enforcing unrealistic standards of appearance.
American Girl has taken this one step further. The doll company, based in Wisconsin, recently announced that their 2020 Girl of the Year, Joss Kendrick, would have hearing loss as part of her story. Each Girl of the Year features a doll, accessories, and books that tell her story. Joss is a fierce athlete from Huntington Beach, California, who is born with hearing loss, as well as a passion for surfing and competitive cheer. Among her available accessories are a removable hearing aid, a surfboard, swim gear, and cheer outfits and equipment.
The goal of American Girl is not only to provide young girls with books and dolls but also to share inspirational stories of girls that provide meaningful lessons to help girls learn and grow with confidence. Joss, the 2020 Girl of the Year, is the first American Girl doll to have hearing loss. For young girls with hearing loss, this is an important new step. For maybe the first time for many of these girls, they will have a doll who has a hearing aid, as they do.
As part of her story, Joss pushes past stereotypes, takes on new challenges, and goes all-in for her dreams. In creating Joss, American Girl consulted with a number of experts, including Jennifer Richardson, Au.D., educational audiologist and founder of Hearing Milestones Foundation, and Crystal DaSilva, Women’s Deaf Shortboard champion and winner of national and world titles. It is clear that American Girl intends to make Joss a realistic and inspiring character who will show young girls that anything is possible, even with hearing loss or other types of differing abilities.
In addition, American Girl has partnered with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) to donate $25,000 in honor of Joss to support the organization’s education and awareness programs. The company is also supporting HLAA’s 2020 Walk4Hearing. This event brings together families across the US to encourage hearing health and living well with hearing loss.
Joss’s story is certain to be an inspiring one, and one that will give girls of all abilities hope and motivation. To learn more about the significance of American Girls’ 2020 Girl of the Year, or to schedule an appointment with our hearing professional, we invite you to contact our practice today. We look forward to caring for you!