American Girl Introduces 1st Doll with Hearing Loss for 2020 Girl of the Year
The new collection will be available for purchase on Dec. 31
Joss Kendrick is American Girl’s 2020 Girl of the Year doll!
The new doll debuted on Good Morning America Tuesday, and is the first doll ever created with hearing loss.
According to the outlet, Kendrick is a competitive cheerleader and surfer from Southern California who was born deaf in her left ear, but still retains some hearing ability in her right ear with the help of a hearing aid — which comes as an accessory with the doll.
“Whether she’s on her surfboard or in the gym, Joss shows girls the importance of trying new things, pushing past stereotypes, and being a good team player,” American Girl said in a statement to GMA.
The company says it partnered with several experts in hearing loss, as well as those in surfing and competitive cheerleading, to create the new doll. The company also donated $25,000 to Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), a national nonprofit that represents people with hearing loss.
The new doll has been well received on social media, with several people lauding American Girl for creating a doll that represents those with hearing loss.
“AMERICAN GIRL DOLL MADE A DOLL WHO IS DEAF. 2020 is already incredible. Little girls who are deaf will say the doll is just like them
#AmericanGirl,” one user wrote on Twitter.
“It’s almost like she could be my other daughter!
But seriously, I am obsessed with her VW Van. Can’t wait to show my girls
,” another wrote.
A third user wrote, “The @American_Girl doll of the year features a girl who is a fierce athlete and was born deaf in one ear. The doll has a visible hearing aid – this is a huge step for #diversityandinclusion. Kudos for making toys that reflect what customers really look like.”
In recent years, the doll company has been taking steps towards creating more inclusive dolls to represent the many children that enjoy playing with them. They’ve created dolls with different ethnic backgrounds and skin colors, as well offer a variety of accessories, like a diabetes kit and wheelchairs.
Earlier this year, American Girl also featured Ivy Kimble, a young girl with Down syndrome, as a model in their October catalogue.
“It’s a big deal for her,” the 4-year-old’s mom Kristin Kimble told WLS-TV at the time. “There’s not a lot of print or media with a lot of kids with Down syndrome.”
In the spread, Ivy stood in front of a Christmas tree alongside another young model, wearing her hair in pigtails and holding her doll, which sports a matching red dress.
“She’s adorable and great to work with, and the shots we captured with her for our holiday catalogues are beautiful,” a spokeswoman for American Girl told PEOPLE in November. “We look forward to continuing our work in celebrating all girls.”
The new Joss Kendrick collection will be available at American Girl retail locations and americangirl.com on Dec. 31.