Back in 2010 I wrote about the few available Asian appearance dolls on the market for our Asian American daughters, and more specifically as a Christmas present for my own five year old daughter. Top of my list was the “Ivy Ling” doll from American Girl. But that choice is going away this fall as American Girl discontinues their only currently available Asian American doll. “Ivy Ling” has been available from American Girl for the last seven years and is retiring with three other dolls this fall including one other doll of color, African American, Cecile Ray.
In case you’ve forgotten, here’s American Girl’s description of “Ivy Ling”:
Ivy Ling’s books are set in San Francisco in the 1970s, and she has groovy clothes. Her main book is Good Luck, Ivy, but she is featured in the Julie books, too. In Good Luck, Ivy, Ivy feels lost, as the middle child in a busy household. Her mom has gone back to school and her dad works two jobs. Ivy tries to follow traditional Chinese rules of “family first”, but a family reunion falls on the same day as her big gymnastics recital, so she will have to decide what is most important in her life.
Back in 2010, I never did get my daughter the Ivy Ling doll, really it was out of my price bracket for what’s acceptable to get for a five year old. When my daughter was younger and I was getting the first doll for her, I went around looking for dolls that had an Asian appearance, something she could relate to, but didn’t find
many. The first one I purchased for her was actually a Disney Mulan doll, which I bought before she was even born, knowing we were going to have a girl. Next when she was about two I got her the Jade doll in the Bratz line (she has a few of these now), and the Disney Jasmine doll, and that’s really about it for dolls with an Asian identity in my daughter’s collection. After that I did some additional research, and came up with the 8Asians article on Asian dolls for Christmas.
While the Ivy Ling doll remains out of my price range, it was a significant offering and the loss of it in the marketplace represents a loss for the Asian American community. I hope that there’s enough press coverage of the loss, like the recent NBC News coverage, to encourage other toy manufacturers to produce their own Asian American dolls.