Diversity and the Baby Dolls


By pulling two non-white dolls from its lineup earlier this year, American Girl unwittingly sparked a social media firestorm centered on changing consumer expectations in a country rapidly becoming more racially and ethnically diverse.

In May, the company announced on Facebook that it was retiring four secondary characters in its historical line, including a black doll and its only Asian doll, prompting many to blast the company.

This was a “huge step in the wrong direction,” wrote commenter Katelin Dausch on American Girl’s Facebook post. Another commenter, Chrystina Lunn-Gilgeous, wrote, “I want more diversity, not less. So disappointed with you.”

The country’s makeup is more diverse now than in any other generation. USA TODAY’s Diversity Index, an indicator of the likelihood the next person you meet will be of a different race or ethnicity, stands now at 55. It’s set to increase to 71 by 2060 — meaning in the next generation, there is more than a 7 in 10 chance that someone you encounter is of a different race or ethnic group than you.

Consumers are beginning to demand more variety and inclusion in everything they purchase, including the toys their children play with.

“Parents want to bring home dolls that look like their children,” said Stephanie Oppenheim, founder of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, which reviews toys.

Financial incentives are also driving the greater diversity on toy shelves. Retailers see that future growth lies in minority spending, said Cesar Megoza, CEO of marketing firm Geoscape.

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SOURCE: Jolie Lee

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