The American 90s classic doll franchise is starting off 2020 with a message of ambition and inclusivity.
Meet Joss Kendrick, a 10-year-old surf-loving cheerleader who never lets her hearing loss get in the way of her goals. She’s American Girl’s 2020 Girl of the Year, and the first-ever doll who has a disability.
The Mattel-owned company first revealed the doll on Good Morning America. The brown-eyed, brown-haired character grew up surfing in Huntington Beach, California. Furthermore, she has two older brothers and a pet bulldog. According to American Girl president Jamie Cygielman, Joss was born deaf in her left ear and can hear a little bit in her right ear.
Of course, American Girl did extra measures to ensure that her story will “instill confidence and character in girls who are learning to think about the possibilities in their own lives” The company worked alongside the hearing loss community, specifically with the Hearing Loss Association of America, an organization that represents, supports and advocates for consumers with hearing loss.
“If you have a child with any type of disability or any type of difference or wearing a hearing aid, to have a doll that mirrors that image I think goes a long way to help with the stigma and the stereotypes,” HLAA executive director Barbara Kelley said.
Moreover, like many “Girl of the Year” dolls, Joss’s story also is timely. This July, surfing is making its debut as an Olympic sport. Consequently, American Girl is partnering with 17-year-old surfer Caroline Marks. She will be competing in the first-ever U.S. Women’s Olympic surfing team.
“I’m so excited to be a part of the Joss launch and share her message that passion and hard work can really take a girl places—even to the Olympics,” Marks said.
To top it all off, American Girl also donated $25,000 to the HLAA. They will continue to promote the organization’s events and mission throughout the year.
You can buy Joss’s collection —including surf attire, cheer attire, two books, and a plush English bulldog named Murph— for $98 starting Dec. 31 at americangirl.com and at American Girl retail stores.