American Girl dolls have been popular amongst little girls in the U.S for a while now. I fondly remember visits to the American Girl Place in New York City when I was a kid. The company has a line of diverse historical dolls from different eras of American history, including Native American Kaya, Civil War-era Addy and Mexican-American Josefina.
Now, the company has just introduced their first American Boy doll - a white boy named Logan Everett. "We do an enormous amount of research with girls and their parents, and the one thing we've heard loud and clear is a desire for more—specifically more characters and stories from today—with more experiences, more diversity, and more interests," Julie Parks, spokesperson for American Girl, said.
And in terms of diversity, many on Twitter aren’t buying the idea that a white boy is “diverse.” In fact, they’ve pretty much insisted he’s a hipster fuckboy.
While there shouldn’t be shame or stigma around boys playing with dolls, one North Carolina pastor totally disagrees.
Rev. Keith Ogden, a pastor at Hill Street Baptist Church in Asheville, learned about the new doll from a segment on Good Morning America.
Outraged, he sent a message to the members of his church titled, “KILLING THE MINDS OF MALE BABIES.”
“This is nothing more than a trick of the enemy to (emasculate little boys) and confuse their role to become men,” he wrote. “There are those in this world who want to alter God’s creation of the male and female. The devil wants to kill, steal and destroy the minds of our children and grandchildren by perverting, distorting and twisting to TRUTH of WHO GOD created them to be.”
In an interview with The Washington Post, Ogden stated that he doesn’t believe children’s toys should be gender-neutral and that kids should continue to exclusively play with toys designed for their gender. “Anytime you take anything away from its original design or purpose, there is a possibility of perversion,” he said.
Clearly, we disagree. And in fact, there have been other companies looking to decrease the stigma around young boys playing with dolls. One such example is Wonder Crew, which features male dolls of different races dressed as superheroes. Another is Boy Story, funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Like many American Girl dolls, the dolls Billy and Mason have their own story books. The company also explicitly looks to break gender roles and even features #HeForShe versions of the dolls, where a percentage of each purchase goes to the UN Women’s HeForShe efforts to promote gender equality in the world. Additionally, American Girl has also made boy dolls in the past as part of their Bitty Twins line, marketed towards younger children, where there are options for male twins with various skin tones.
Here’s hoping that American Girl introduces even more diversity with male dolls of different races, and perhaps even agender dolls.
Top Image via Mattel
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Rafaella is a graduate of The New School, where she majored in journalism and minored in gender studies. She's passionate about feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, combatting online harassment, and ending herpes stigma. Visit her website: ellagunz.com