The American Girl Doll brand has caused controversy by doing what anti-LGBTQ people find unthinkable: introducing a doll with LGBTQ family members.
The Mattel-owned imprint created a backstory for its 2021 Girl of the Year Doll, Kira Bailey, who is 10-years-old and has visited her two married aunts in Australia. The same-sex couple also owns a wildlife sanctuary, but it was their fictional relationship that had American Girl fans wildly upset.
A TikTok by American Girl Doll collector Rebecca Nachman reviewed the controversy, which grew quickly in combination with the fact that American Girl is publishing an anti-racism children’s book, featuring dolls of color.
The book, Kira Down Under, that accompanies Kira for doll collectors, explains that she has visited her aunts — who were married “after the law was changed to allow it,” referring to the 2017 decision to legalize marriage equality in Australia.
The aunts, Auntie Mamie and Auntie Linette, are also featured in the first episode of Kira Bailey’s Australian Adventure stop motion episode on YouTube (below).
Reviews on the Amazon product page for the book featuring Kira’s backstory are just examples of the anger that anti-LGBTQ doll collectors feel.
“Homosexuality is an inappropriate topic for a children’s book,” wrote one review, “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,” another review claimed.
“People were saying, ‘Children are innocent, they shouldn’t have to read about sex,’ as if American Girl is publishing a lesbian porno,” Nachman said.
“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,” American Girl spokeswoman Julie Parks told Yahoo! Life.
Although this is the first American Girl Doll to have an out family member, it is not the first time anti-LGBTQ people have attacked the brand. When a 2019 book, Understanding Families, made mention of diverse families, outrage ensued as well. A kid’s advice book released last year was entitled A Smart Girl’s Guide to Boys originally, but then was re-titled A Smart Girl’s Guide: Crushes to be inclusive, and a book coming out this year entitled Pets will feature a family headed by two dads.
In 2015, a girl with two dads was featured in American Girl Magazine, prompting a boycott of the brand. Even before their overt representation of LGBTQ people, some fans became enraged when American Doll was found to be donating to Girls, Inc., a pro-LGBTQ organization, in 2005.
Not all fans are upset though. In a blog post for American Girl Doll News, Sydney Jean wrote, “When I found out that Kira had two aunts, Mamie and Lynette, I wanted to cry tears of joy. I immediately texted my mom and my sister the news despite it being five in the morning, and I felt so happy…. It means the world to me that American Girl is taking a big step and representing lesbians- people like me- in their newest book series.”
“It’s now 2021. It’s only been legal for same-sex couples to marry for five years (and even less than that in Australia), yet LGBT people have existed forever.”
“So, thank you, American Girl… Thank you for creating some more hard-to-find representation for us LGBT people.”