American Girl is discontinuing more of its historical characters. And this time, the group on the block includes two of the company's more diverse offerings, African American Cécile and Asian American Ivy.
American Girl announced the move on Facebook; Cécile's fellow resident of antebellum New Orleans Marie-Grace, as well as Depression-era Ruthie, are also being discontinued. For those who haven't been assiduously following the state of the historical lineup since they were 9 or 10, that takes away two dolls of color. Former slave Addy is now the only African American character left; when Cécile launched, she was praised at The Root, for example, as an alternative for "parents who found that educational narrative a bit heavy for playtime, or who simply want to provide their children with a broader picture of the black experience in America."
Seven dolls remain, and they're bringing back Samantha, as well. (Don't all squeal at once, Samanthas.) All but Addy, Josefina (a Latina living in New Mexico) and Kaya (who's Nez Perce) are white. While there's a decently diverse selection of "My American Girl" dolls—which is table stakes, really—previous Girl of the Year dolls are an overwhelmingly white lot.
The change is part of a bigger revamp of the company's historical collection. According to the announcement, "This fall, the rest of the historical characters become BeForever, a fresh approach to these American Girl favorites that we'll reveal in the coming months!"
The dolls getting kicked to the archive are all "best friends," companion dolls to main characters, which the company is phasing out. Cécile and Mary Grace were presented as a pair, rather than one being the star, while Ivy was the sidekick to white 70s hippie chick Julie. So it's not that they've singled out minority dolls—but of course, if they'd been main characters in the first place, they wouldn't have gotten streamlined away.
There aren't many details about "BeForever." Pretty much the one thing we know is that it is a terrible name, like they're becoming poorly marketed vampires. Jesus, guys. Here is a very vague video teaser:
On Facebook, American Girl promised the historical dolls aren't going anywhere:
Be assured that our historical line remains the foundation of our company. We will continue to create strong characters that impart valuable lessons of hope, courage, and resolve. Please stay tuned for more information about the BeForever line.
But that doesn't do much for girls and parents seeking more diverse offerings, who are left with two fewer offerings. They could always introduce replacements, but this preview of the BeForever books doesn't hint at any:
I've reached out to American Girl for comment and will update if I hear anything more.
To be fair, the lineup is still vastly more diverse than when the company first launched. Besides Addy, Josefina and Kaya, there's Rebecca as well, growing up in the immigrant community of the Lower East Side in 1914. When I first came to the catalogs, it was just Molly, Samantha, Felicity and Kirsten, a totally white lineup.
But no doubt fans would prefer to see the company taking steps forward, not backward, and taking a broader, more representative approach to the name "American Girl."
Photo via AP Images.