When last we checked in with American Girl™®© they were selling a doll which they described as homeless for a mere $95. But that’s so 2009. They are kicking off this year with their 2011 Girl Of The Year®, Kanani Akina™ who “loves welcoming visitors to her Hawaiian home.” No big deal if it weren’t for the fact that Kanani has dark blonde hair, brown eyes and a skin color that suggests a health-minded approach to tanning. In other words, she doesn’t look in the least bit like actual native Hawaiians who usually have black hair, black eyes and a darker skin color. It is especially odd that American Girl™®© decided to call American Surfer Girl Hawaiian at a time when The World’s Most Famous Hawaiian (and Leader of The Free World™®©) is known for his surfeit of melanin.
In Hawaiian Kanani means"the beautiful one." Apparently the beautiful one in Hawaii is Haole. While her last name, Akina, may sound Hawaiian it is actually Japanese (another group known primarily for black hair and eyes and a distinctly non-Caucasian skin tone). So American Girl™®© just decided to appropriate some ethnic sounding names, put a flower in the doll’s hair and call it Hawaiian. Aznuts, as the Hawaiians say. Hell, even Disney – which has a very long history of messing up on ethnic issues — was able to do this right.
This doll was brought to my attention by my wife, Jennifer — aka “Mrs. CollateralDamage” aka “ Broke Hoedown” aka “One of Those Darn Cats” – who has spent quite a bit of time in Hawaii and so was totally flabbergasted when she came across it that her eyes did that Tex Avery thing. For that, at least, I can say, “Well done, American Girl™®©!”
Soong-Chan Rah has a wonderful tale of a parent and child dealing with American Girl’s issues around ethnicity. Highly recommended. Like this: Like Loading...
american girl, Broke Hoedown, Disney, Hawaii, Marketing, Marketing blunders, Marketing to girls, Marketing to kids, Mrs. CollateralDamage, Racism, Tex Avery | Tagged american girl, Broke Hoedown, Dolls, Marketing, Marketing blunders, Marketing mistakes, Marketing to girls, Racism, Tex Avery, Those Darn Cats
What could be a better way for your child to learn that the homeless are just like real people than to buy her a “less fortunate” playmate for her other American Girl doll(s)?
How about spending some time with — and money for — someone who is actually homeless?
The latest addition to the American Girl line of how-do-you-justify-it-ly expensive dolls is Gwen Thompson. Ms. Thompson
and her mother Janine fell on hard times when her father lost his job; they later lost the house as they were unable to keep up payments. Soon after, Gwen’s father left them and they became homeless the fall before the start of the book’s events. Initially, Gwen’s mother has them live in their car until the winter comes; she then takes them to Sunrise House, a place for homeless women and children. Sunrise House helps them get on their feet and eventually get a new apartment.
Despite this happy ending Ms. Thompson does have a touch of Voltaire’s Candide about her:
Gwen likes to swim. However, she is not a strong swimmer and is sent to work with the 8-9 year olds. She becomes the swim coach’s assistant on the swim team in the second book so that she can participate and learn to swim better. In [the book]
Chrissa Stands Strong this makes her the object of cyberbullying.
Poor Gwen should just be grateful she wasn’t made the token cripple as well.
Just think how much American Girl could charge for a wheel chair?
I can't compete with reality.
Even ironistas must do their research.
The answer to the above question is $30. Heather, who brought this to my attention and rocks big time, adds “A set of crutches (with a leg cast and other accessories) is only $26. You don’t have a daughter….you don’t know!”
Well she was an American girl
Raised on promises
She couldn’t help thinking that there
Was a little more to life
Somewhere else Like this: Like Loading...
american girl, Homeless, Marketing, Marketing blunders, Marketing to girls, Marketing to kids | Tagged american girl, Homeless, Homelessness, Marketing blunders, Marketing to children, Marketing to girls