American Girl’s 2020 doll of the year

Photo credit: Courtesy of American Girl

by Caroline Masia

On December 31, 2019, Good Morning America announced to the world the American Girl Doll of the year for 2020. Her name is Joss Kendrick, a surfer gal and a cheerleader from Southern California. At first glance, she might look like your typical California girl with beautiful auburn hair, a fit surfer body and beautifully tanned skin. But Joss is different from the other American Girl Dolls. She has hearing aids that you can clearly see circling around her ears and she is proudly showing them off.

When I first saw the Good Morning America annoucement, my heart leapt and I felt proud of the American Girl Doll company for coming out with a doll who has hearing loss. I have hearing loss. I was born deaf and got my first cochlear implant at sixteen months and my second when I was seven years old. Growing up, there was no doll in the market that had hearing aids or cochlear implants. In fact, there was no doll out there that had any sort of differences. Instead, when I returned home from my surgery, I found that my sister had “rigged” up several of her dolls by fashioning “cochlear implants” out of buttons and other materials, so that I could have a doll that looked like me.

It is wonderful to finally have dolls that represent the population more realistically and is also commendable because American Girl is now helping to normalize differences. Everyone faces challenges. And all girls are beautiful. By creating a doll with a hearing impairment, American Girl makes that statement loud and clear!

Caroline Masia is currently in her third year at the University of Central Florida studying exceptional education. She is very active with the Jewish community on campus and is involved with the American Sign Language club. After college, Caroline hopes to teach students who are deaf or hard of hearing and help to make a difference in their lives.

Thanks to Sherilyn Adler, PhD, of the Ear Peace: Save Your Hearing Foundation, an educational nonprofit, for assisting The Quiet Coalition with this piece. TQC is proud to regard Dr. Adler and her group as partners in its work on preventing hearing loss.

Comments (2)

  1. Teresa Barnes, RN

    Thanks for sharing. There are 65 Million Americans with hearing loss taking the current extrapolation of the current population using the values of 1 in 5 Americans who have hearing loss according to a Johns Hopkins Study. I am working on getting businesses Hearing Friendly Trained to learn to serve our communities differently. So they can be proactive rather than reactive with the ADA 2010 laws. If you’d like to be part of this either Facebook, E-Mail, or Website connect with me. I have met Dr. Daniel Fink and he appreciates what I am doing as well. Teresa Barnes, RN Your Hearing Friendly Business Awareness Expert.

  2. Lili

    This is totally awesome and inspiring…I work as a lunch aid in a school, and have the privilege of having a little girl who is almost deaf…She inspires me every day, and this doll validates everything for hearing impaired children, and those who are not…
    I myself began losing my hearing a few years ago so this hits real close to home…
    Caroline Masia, you totally hit it out of the park!
    Mazel tov!!! ❤❤❤❤


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