Meet ‘Z,’ the first-ever Korean American Girl Doll with a love for filmmaking
Korean-American girls are finally getting some representation in their toy boxes.
American Girl announced the release of Suzie “Z” Yang last week, a Korean-American girl who loves filmmaking and vlogging. Z, as she likes to be called, is described as an “imaginative filmmaker” who uses film to understand the world around her.
Z was made available to purchase on April 27. The release also happens to align with Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in May, though it’s not apparent if that was intentional.
The doll is accompanied by a chapter book series, which follows Z as she enters a Seattle-based stop-motion film competition. Along the way, she expresses herself through vlogs featuring her dog, Popcorn.
Z’s philosophy is “every girl has a story to share.”
Z’s philosophy is “every girl has a story to share.” It’s an inspiring message, especially for East Asian girls whose stories are rarely represented by toy giants like Mattel-owned American Girl.
This isn’t the first time the brand has represented Asian girls in its line. Chinese-American doll Ivy Ling was released as the best friend of Julie Albright in 2007. The pair were retired in 2014. In 2011, the Girl of the Year was Kanani Akina, a young girl of Japanese, French, German, and native Hawaiian descent. East Asian dolls are also available in the brand’s less popular WellieWishers and Bitty Baby collection, and in a custom doll collection called Truly Me.
Z marks the first time a doll of East Asian heritage will be available in the American Girl Collection since Ivy Ling was discontinued in 2014, and the first time ever that Korean-American girls will be represented in the line.
American Girl has been under pressure in the past few years to include more diversity in its line of dolls. The brand, which launched in 1986, has a history of mainly representing white girls of both historical and contemporary backgrounds.
Even among the criticism, however, American Girl claims its brand is one of the most diverse in the toy industry today.
“American Girl is proud to have one of the most inclusive and diverse selections of dolls in the industry, and it’s an area we’ve been committed to since the very beginning,” Stephanie Spanos, senior PR manager at American Girl, told Mashable earlier this year.
But that representation still comes at a steep cost, with Z and her book costing $115 — not including accessories.
American Girl has recently been doubling down on efforts to include girls of all backgrounds in its line. Earlier this year, American Girl announced the 2017 Girl of the Year would be Gabriela McBride, a young black activist who stutters.
It was the first time a black doll had been featured as Girl of the Year in 14 years of the title. A staggering 11 dolls out of the previous 14 Girl of the Year dolls were white.