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American Girl announces first Asian American 'Girl of the Year' doll, Corinne Tan

'Wrapped around Corinne's outdoor adventures are important messages about kindness, tolerance, and love.'

American Girl announces first Asian American 'Girl of the Year' doll, Corinne Tan
Cover Image Source: American Girl website

American Girl's latest 'Girl of the Year' doll is making history as the line's first one of Chinese descent. The popular doll manufacturer, on Thursday, unveiled Corinne Tan, a Chinese American skier, as its 2022 Girl of the Year. "We know representation matters, and we're proud to welcome Corrine Tan to our lineup of important characters who reflect what it means to be an American girl today," Jamie Cygielman, general manager at American Girl, told TODAY in a statement. "Wrapped around Corrine's outdoor adventures are important messages about kindness, tolerance, and love—showing kids that they're never too young to contribute to the larger conversation and stand up for positive change."


Corinne—who lives in Aspen, Colorado, with her sister, Gwynn, the first "little sister" doll standing 14'' tall—loves to ski with her dad and wants to train her dog to be a ski patrol rescue canine. Written by 'The Great Wall of Lucy Lu' author Wendy Shang, her story explores changing family dynamics as she deals with her mom remarrying after her parents' divorce, explores her Chinese heritage and is exposed to the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. "An iconic American Girl is more than blonde hair and blue eyes," said 40-year-old Ria Pretekin, a Filipino-American mom of two living in Illinois.


"An Asian American girl is also American, and in the wake of anti-Asian hate it would help to dispel the otherness. I'd love for Asian American children to feel the pride of their identities," she added. As a daughter of immigrants, Pretekin revealed she wasn't exposed to the American Girl brand while growing up and never saw herself represented in any of the dolls. "It would have meant so much to me to have a doll that looked like me. It would have helped shape my idea of beauty to know that brown skin and black hair was also beautiful," she said. "Growing up in the 80s and 90s, whiteness was and is still very much centered and it didn’t allow me to see Asian Americans in any toys, shows, movies, or books."


Larisa Courtien, a 32-year-old Asian-American mom of two living in New York, has a similar story to share. "I remember the cool girls in school always had them. I liked reading their stories, but never felt like I could relate to them," she said. "By not having dolls or toys that looked like me growing up, I essentially grew up not thinking that the American story was my story. I didn’t realize I could be the 'main character' until my adult life. I always felt like the side character or the best friend."


Now, Courtien is hopeful that Corinne will be just one of many future AAPI dolls that children, like her own, can relate to. "It fills me with so much hope. And I hope they don’t stop with just one. Having one Asian American Girl Doll is not a catch-all—there are so many amazing AAPI women who have made the American Dream their own, who have rich and diverse histories of how they and their families came to America, and of how they continue to love their culture," she added. "To see AAPI girls represented by the franchise means so much to me—I hope I can share this with my daughter and that she can see our family and her unique face in such a beloved brand."


Pretekin is also excited to share the franchise with her daughter. "My daughter loves American Girl and we are so happy to see that there is now racial diversity among the dolls to choose from. We currently have the Nanea doll, which is Hawaiian and the closest representation for being Asian Pacific Islander," she explained. "We would love to see more Asian American representation among the American Girl brand. As a mom, it is important for me to celebrate Asian American identity and allow space for my daughter to embrace who she is." Corrine Tan is now available for pre-order on American Girl’s website. American Girl is reportedly also partnering with AAPI Youth Rising, a non-profit made up of young people raising awareness about xenophobia against Asian Americans, and has donated $25,000 to their cause.

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