Jessica Ellis
January 01, 2016 1:20 pm

Okay, yes, fine, objectively speaking we may be getting a tiny bit old to play with dolls but, oh man, 2016’s American Girl doll is tempting us like never before! The celebrated line of diverse dolls for girls has added a new heroine, and her interests are pretty cool: meet Lea Clark, an avid photographer and animal lover!

 

American Girl dolls all have an intricate story, and Lea’s is fascinating. According to press releases, Lea becomes enamored with both photography and animals during a trip to the Brazilian rainforest where her older brother, Zac, is a researcher. An encounter with an injured baby sloth turns Lea into a life-long animal lover (why do we get the feeling this might be the perfect American Girl doll for Kristen Bell?).

As with all new American Girl dolls, Lea is more than just a dress-up toy. So far, three new books, a movie, and a paid app have all been announced to help tell Lea’s story. On the American Girl website, there’s also a host of Lea-related activities, crafts, quizzes and even downloadable wallpapers.

American Girl dolls have been a staple of kid culture since 1986. Originally focused on telling American history through interaction with toys, each doll has a unique background told through books, films, and multimedia. While the company was originally praised for offering diverse dolls that empowered girls, it’s come under criticism in recent years for homogenization and the discontinuation of some dolls that represented ethnic minorities. Others criticize the high price-point; Lea Clark dolls start at $120.

Despite these criticisms, the company is still a notable philanthropic organization, and the release of Lea marks a new partnership with the World Wildlife Fund: the company has made a $50,000 donation to the organization, and is spearheading efforts through Lea to get girls to raise money for the charity by hosting art or craft sales. If nothing else, it’s great to see toy companies encouraging environmental activism in our kids!

(Image via Shutterstock)

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