The popular children’s toy brand American Girl recently stirred up some attention with the release of their first male doll—named Logan Everett—on Feb. 16. While the introduction of a male doll into the brand’s products may not seem like groundbreaking news to some, this will have a profound effect on children.
The American Girl brand is committed to, as stated on their website, “[celebrating] girls and all that they can be. That's why we develop products and experiences that help girls grow up in a wholesome way, while encouraging them to enjoy girlhood through fun and enchanting play.”
American Girl is committed to not only creating dolls, but also to educating young individuals about different cultures, ethnicities and time periods. They do so by including a book with each doll that tells that specific doll’s story. These books serve to foster inclusion and acceptance of all individuals at a young age.
“When the line was introduced in 1986, it became a huge hit for its historically accurate clothing and furniture, and stories told through the doll’s eyes of escaping slavery or living through the depression,” The New York Times said.
Since then, American Girl has introduced more contemporary dolls; they still aim, however, to help their customers learn something with each new doll.
The brand represents a range of races, economic statuses, cultures, professions and, now, genders.
The introduction of a male doll is just another way American Girl is fostering inclusion in their brand. It is imperative that this continues so that future generations of children have the choice to play with dolls, trucks or blocks—no matter what their gender is.
Having more gender-neutral toys will allow children to explore interests that they enjoy and to express their true selves.
Further, American Girl is encouraging all children to learn about inspiring young women through their literature. They are suggesting that their dolls’ stories should not be limited to young girls; it is important for all children, in general, to learn about those different from themselves.
American Girl, however, has not received universal positive feedback. Reverend Keith Ogden claims that the release of the male doll is, “nothing more than a trick of the enemy to (emasculate little boys) and confuse their role to become men,” according to The Washington Post.
These types of attitudes and gender binaries limit the youth of this nation and create a dangerous political atmosphere for generations to come.
Although Ogden is not alone in his distaste for the new American Girl doll and in redefining the toy industry to be more tolerant and accepting, it is important to hear their concerns—their words remind us that not only is the creation of Logan Everett as a male doll commendable, but also necessary because of the negative opinions it brought out.
Future generations of children deserve to play with toys that they like—not toys that they are prescribed to use based on their gender. Any steps taken toward creating a safe place for children to explore themselves and to have fun should be celebrated.