Two decades after the release of the doll character Josefina Montoya from Mexico, American Girl (Mattel) is adding a new Latina into the mix: Girl of the Year 2018 Luciana Vega, who’s of Chilean descent and who, with an interest in science and space, aspires to become an astronaut.
Who else would the celebrated brand, known for giving their dolls education-rich historical and cultural narratives, turn to but NASA to promote the pursuit of future careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). “It is so important to find exciting new ways to inspire our next generation of space explorers,” NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, who serves on the project’s advisory board, said in a statement. “I always want to encourage girls and boys to pursue their dreams, no matter how big, and I think it helps to show how those dreams can become reality for any kid.”
Although they have sold STEM accessories for the dolls before, this is the first character to focus solely on the subject. “We really wanted to do a whole character to show girls that STEM is cool,” said Rebecca Dekuiper, a designer at American Girl.
According to her AG story, Luciana is a “creative, confident 11-year-old girl” on her way to Space Camp, and she wants to be the first person on Mars. Fans of the doll will have the chance to walk in her space boots: On Jan. 31, a Mission to Mars Sweepstakes — with Space Camp as the grand prize — and a STEM learning program for kids (in partnership with Scholastic) will go live at americangirl.com and scholastic.com.
American Girl has strived for many years to be inclusive, releasing dolls of all ethnicities and skin tones, as well as offering accessories like wheelchairs and diabetes kits. The company introduced their first boy doll named Logan Everett last February.
Luciana is now available for purchase on americangirl.com and in stores.