American Girl has introduced its 2022 Girl of the Year, Corinne Tan, a proud Asian American girl who lives in Aspen, Colo. with her mom and new stepdad. She loves to ski with her dad and looks forward to one day training her new puppy to become a search-and-rescue dog. Her long black hair is accented with bold turquoise blue highlights and she has several exclusive features, including hair color, skin tone and newly-designed eyes to authentically represent her heritage.
In her story, Corinne navigates the struggles associated with her mother's remarrying and exploring her Chinese heritage. As Corinne realizes the power of love — in both her family and community — she learns home is not necessarily a place, but wherever she is surrounded by the people she loves and is most proud of.
Corinne uses the bravery she has learned on the mountains to face her everyday issues, like adjusting to a new family dynamic and speaking out against xenophobic comments. A force for positive change, the story of Corinne teaches readers lessons in anti-racism as she displays empathy in the face of negativity.
As an icon in popular culture, the power of the American Girl brand is more palpable than ever — from their impact on the youngest of admirers to multi-decade-long fans, evident with the response from their recent high-end fashion collaboration with Stoney Clover Lane. With great power comes great responsibility and for American Girl, that means boldly addressing the current climate and social issues. The company has made conscious steps towards creating more inclusive dolls, including different ethnic backgrounds and skin colors.
"We pride ourselves on having a strong pulse on girls' lives today — from what they enjoy doing to the issues and concerns they face," Jamie Cygielman, general manager of American Girl, tells Yahoo Life.
"Our goal at American Girl has always been to create stories, products and experiences that support and encourage girls throughout childhood," she adds. "In our development process, we strive to reflect what is happening in culture and that can sometimes include more complex subjects and social issues: It's important for kids to see themselves in our storytelling or to learn about a life or culture that may be different from their own to help build empathy, courage and conviction."
Corinne's story is written by Wendy Shang, author of The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, and tackles heavy issues including divorce, racism and the COVID-19 pandemic. "Stories are powerful," Shang says. "They can spark understanding and meaningful conversations and become catalysts for change."
"Corinne's experiences reflect the realities of the times — both good and bad," Shang continues, "such as the unfortunate rise in anti-Asian sentiment across the U.S. since the pandemic. For young readers, this is important validation for those who have experienced racism directly. I also hope that children who read these stories can see how they can be antiracism allies by speaking up or otherwise showing that racism is not okay."
For the first time ever, the Girl of the Year will be joined by a little sister, Gwynn. The traditional American Girl doll stands at 18 inches, but Gwynn will be more compact in size at 14.5 inches. The doll was created using the same "Emerson" mold from the company's WellieWishers line that launched in 2016.
Gwynn and Corinne lean on each other as they come to terms with their parents' divorce and move into their new step-dad's home.
"Like many girls today, Corinne's family is evolving,” Shang explains. "Her parents are divorced and her mom is remarrying, which means there are a lot of changes to navigate at home."
"Corinne's story helps readers explore the process of family change," she adds. "The house she's lived in her whole life — with her mom, dad and little sister Gwynn — isn't home anymore. About half of children in America experience a parent's remarriage and I hope they will be able to relate to the challenge of having to redefine the meaning of home."
To help create an authentic story for Corinne and her sister, American Girl consulted with a team of advisors, including Dr. Jennifer Ho, an anti-Asian racism expert and professor of ethnic studies, and Lori Spence, a ski patrol director and avalanche dog trainer.
Traditionally, the Girl of the Year isn't afraid to step up for what she believes in, and the 2022 edition is no different. To further support Corinne's mission, American Girl announced a partnership with the nonprofit, AAPI Youth Rising. This student-led organization, helmed by its 13-year-old founder Mina Fedor, calls for positive change through education in stopping the rise in xenophobia against Asian Americans.
"As youth, we are writing our own futures, and it is our responsibility to lead the way by making our voices heard," Fedor tells Yahoo Life. "We must share our hopes, dreams and ideas to make this world a better place. Although youth may feel like our voices don't make a difference, they do. It's amazing how small actions and speaking up about things that you believe in can inspire change.""Many of us have grown up with American Girl and loved the dolls and reading the stories," Fedor adds, "so it's extra-special to be working with them on this new character who is Chinese American."
In conjunction with the release of Corinne, American Girl has donated $25,000 toward the ONE/180 pledge, which asks schools to include one classroom lesson a school year devoted to Asian American and Pacific Island culture and history.
Along with her fashion forward accessories, including iridescent leggings and faux-fur trimmed boots, Corinne will also get a two-book series, Corinne and Corinne to the Rescue. Additional accessory add-ons include a plush version of her puppy, Flurry, and a ski outfit, while Gwynn’s accessory options reflect her love of ice skating. A 35-piece set converts the sisters' ski chalet-themed bedroom into a ski slope.
Corinne's launch livestream will take place on-location in Aspen on New Year's Day and will be hosted by Olympic champion Tara Lipinski. Additional content will be released throughout the year on an all-new American Girl TikTok as well as on YouTube, including a music video from Corinne and Gwynn.
The Corinne collection will be available Dec. 30, 2021 on americangirl.com and at retail locations beginning Jan. 1, 2022.
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