American Girl's 2020
American Girl's 2020 'Girl of the Year' is Joss! She's a surfer and rocks a hearing aid
American Girl is starting off the new year with a message of ambition and inclusivity –and a nod to the upcoming summer Olympics.
The Mattel-owned company has announced its annual "Girl of the Year," and 2020's doll is Joss Kendrick, a 10-year-old surfer and competitive cheerleader from Huntington Beach, California. She has two older brothers and a pet bulldog. She has long brown hair and brown eyes and wears a swimsuit, hoodie and shorts.
She also rocks a hearing aid.
Joss is the American Girl's first-ever doll who has a disability.
"She has congenital hearing loss. She was born deaf in her left ear and can hear a little bit in her right ear," American Girl president Jamie Cygielman told .
American Girl has long offered dolls that can be fitted with hearing aids and dolls with crutches and wheelchairs, but Joss is the first character whose disability is part of her story, Cygielman said.
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Like many "Girl of the Year" dolls, Joss' story also is timely: Surfing is making its debut as an Olympic sport in July. Thus, American Girl has teamed up with real-life surfer Caroline Marks to launch Joss. Marks, 17, will compete on the inaugural U.S. Women’s Olympic surfing team.
she and Joss share a common message.
And Joss' hearing loss doesn't define her or limit or dreams, Cygielman said. The company worked alongside the hearing loss community to ensure Joss' story was authentic. It specifically partnered with the Hearing Loss Association of America, an organization that represents, supports and advocates for consumers with hearing loss.
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Mattel has had a big year of introducing inclusive and diverse products.
This summer, Barbie expanded its Fashionistas line to showcase dolls in a wheelchair and a removable prosthetic leg. Then in the fall, Barbie also introduced a line of gender-neutral dolls.
Also a maker of games, Mattel adapted UNO to bring the popular card game to the blind by putting Braille on the corner of each card.
Consumers are skeptical as to whether they would actually purchase these types of products, according to a survey of more than 700 consumers from Horizon Media.
But, Cygielman said that this trend is nothing new for American Girl who has a 33-year history of offering dolls with varying skin tones and hair and eye colors.
"We have always been about diversity and inclusion and well continue to do that as part of the fabric of the brand," she said.
The 18-inch Joss doll is $98 and is available for purchase starting Dec. 31 at americangirl.com and at American Girl retail stores.