The Diabetic American Girl Doll

 

American Girl and American Girlhood is probably one of the most interesting and fun classes I’ve taken at UW, which is why it makes sense that I talk about it a lot and tell other people to take it!  A few weeks ago I was sharing about the class with one of my friends which lead to a discussion about the American Girl Doll Company.  She told me about a really cool article she had seen on Facebook where a young girl from her hometown in Antigo, Wisconsin (represent!) had made a petition on change.org and posted a video sharing her story.  In the video, 11 year old Anja Busse describes how she was recently diagnosed with diabetes and feels so different, like her life has been turned around.  She asks the American Girl Company to make diabetic accessories for her American Girl Dolls so that they can be just like her.  You can watch the video Here.  Anja’s primary goal is that everyone would feel good about themselves, no matter what disability or difference they might have.  After many Facebook shares, with just 4,335 supporters, Anja got her wish and American Girl released diabetic accessories.  You can view them in the American Girl Doll Store Here.

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Although a keyword like “ability” (or disability) may have fit this post a bit more, I argue that this story also fits into the keyword essay for “childhood”.  Karen Sanchez-Eppler states that it is important to recognize the contradiction between what a society’s ideas of childhood are and the actual lived experience of a child because they are two very different things.  One society’s view of childhood might include ideas of play, education, and family.  However, that view very rarely takes into account pieces of identity that affect children’s perceptions of themselves, like ability.  I think the fact that American Girl has expanded the accessories that it offers to include things like insulin pumps is huge because it tells girls that their experiences of girlhood are recognized and should be celebrated.

Disability and difference was also seen in the American Sunday School Union’s “The Choctaw Girl” which used Tewah-Hokay’s back injury as a way to exemplify her goodness in suffering for the Lord without complain.  I believe that this text was written for white children and used disability to set an example for how they should behave and trust in God.

Anja wanted her disability to be recognized by the American Girl Company, not just for herself, but for the thousands of million other diabetic children in the world who feel that they are different and that there is something “wrong with them” because of their disease.  Anja wanted to make this happen so that those children, no matter what set them apart from others, would feel good about themselves and feel comfortable being who they were.   I think that the American Girl Company recognizing other’s differences is a step in the right direction, a direction that celebrates diversity and doesn’t put children down for not falling under the standard norm.

5 thoughts on “The Diabetic American Girl Doll”

  1. I love the fact that American Girl is starting to add medical accessories that children can relate with. Through these accessories girls can know that everyone has something that they struggle with and that they aren’t alone. There is no reason for anyone to feel ashamed for a disability that they might have. In my opinion the American Girl Company should take this even further, addressing more medical ailments that children face. What about creating a doll that is blind, has hair loss due to chemotherapy for cancer treatment, or has a disease such as Downs Syndrome?

  2. I think it’s amazing that the American Girl Company is supporting Anja and so many other young girls with this condition! It sends a message that diversity is an important topic to address, and it teaches young girls to honor other people’s differences. This reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook urging Barbie to create a bald barbie doll in support of children’s cancer awareness.

  3. I loved your post on The Diabetic American Girl Doll! It says a lot about a company that will add to their product line based on a customer request. It is especially impressive that the company filled a request for diabetic accessories. This gesture by the American Girl Doll Company makes me think even more highly of the organization.

    Instead of hiding her insulin pump the young girl is able to smile and show her look-a-like American Girl Doll with the same medical tool. What a huge positive boost for a young girl. The response by the American Girl Doll Company to add the insulin pump to their line will surely positively affect this young girl for years to come.

  4. I love this story! I think this is one big step forward for all the young girls out there struggling with medical conditions. I think that it is important for the American Girl Company to recognize that even though these young girls might be different from their peers due to their medical conditions, they are certainly not any less worthy of a human as their peers— they are all unique in their own ways. I think that these dolls will go on to inspire many other people as well, since these young warriors out there are really the symbol of strength; their will and power is something that people of all ages can look up to.

  5. I really loved your realization that not everyone’s girlhood is the same and these differences should be celebrated. I had two American Girl Dolls when I was little and I read the books that went with them, but I never appreciated the company as much as I do now. Purely from a business standpoint, I love that there is a company out there like American Girl that parents can invest in knowing that it is making such an impact. When parents are spending a relatively large amount of money on these dolls and accessories for their children, it isn’t just a doll, they are buying into a company that is really truly making a difference.

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