It was in 1986 when American Girl introduced its first three dolls and their accompanying books: Kirsten Larson, Samantha Parkington, and Molly McIntire. As I kid, I was an American Girl fanatic who visited my elementary school library daily, exchanging one of their books for the next. My mom made sure I had all of their collections.
But until Addy Walker came on the scene in 1993, an American Girl didn’t look like me.
The introduction of Addy’s story wound up changing my life: In 1864, she was a slave girl who watched as her father and brother were ripped away from her family and sold off to a new owner. She and her mother fled to freedom and nearly died along the way. While reading about Addy’s adventures in her books as I clung tightly to my Addy doll, I learned about the history of my people that often wasn’t addressed in young scholastic circles. Come to think of it, she’s the reason I’m so vocal about how and why representation of people of color matters in the media today.
As far as we’ve come in the decades since Addy’s initial release, toy companies are still lacking when it comes to accurately reflecting our diverse culture. There have plenty of non-white dolls, sure, but many are just one shade of barely-brown, or still adhere to the European beauty standards from which people of many ethnic backgrounds have been trying to break away.
Creative women like Ozi Okaro, however, are trying to change that.
You can continue reading the article by Erika Marie at https://vocally.com/blogs/why-representation-in-the-toy-industry-is-so-important
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