August 13, 2022

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American Girl debuts its first Chinese American doll

Meet the newest American Girl: Her name is Corinne, she likes to ski, and she’s the only Chinese American doll in the beloved brand’s roster.

American Girl Brands, a subsidiary of Mattel Inc., debuted Corinne Tan on Jan. 1 — just after the holiday season — in part a response to increased violence against Asian Americans.

American Girl General Manager Jamie Cygielman told Bloomberg News that the brand created Corinne to help validate the lived experiences of children who have been subjected to racism and xenophobia.

“We hope our stories help children understand that their experiences and problems are important, and that other people care about them,” she said. 

The Corinne doll — along with a bevy of themed accessories, books about her life and a little sister Gwynn — will be available at the American Girl website and the company’s destination stores for at least two years.

Mattel, the maker of Barbie, has long been criticized for a lack of racial diversity in its offerings and for perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards, though it has recently released more non-White dolls. Among the dozens of American Girls debuted over the years, Corinne is one of six of Asian descent. The company in 2014 discontinued production of Ivy Ling, its first Chinese American doll.

Read more: Barbie joins TikTk as Mattell looks to boost the social reach of its iconic brands

See the latest news from CES here.

Corinne’s debut comes amid a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. There have been over 10,000 reports of anti-Asian discrimination since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to data collected by 

Cynthia Choi, the co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action and a founder of Stop AAPI Hate, applauded the effort to speak with children about anti-Asian racism in an age-appropriate manner.

“We can come together as a community, as a society to condemn hate and to work towards responses that overall get at the driving factors around bias,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

“What I really hope is that there is some part of Corinne’s story that makes readers feel seen, whether it’s because they are Asian American, or because they’re part of a blended family, or because they love skiing,” Wendy Wan-Long Shang, the author of Corinne’s books, said in a press release. “I think when readers feel seen, they realize that they matter and their experiences matter, and that they are meant to be the stars of their own stories.” Shang developed the characters along with illustrator Peijin Yang. 

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