News & Politics

Meet DC’s Surprisingly Progressive New American Girl Dolls

The toys address racism, immigration issues, and the environment.

Photograph courtesy of American Girl.

Say hello to the District’s three newest residents: Makena Williams, Evette Peeters, and Maritza Ochoa. The trio attend the same middle school—and also all happen to be American Girl dolls. In the company’s 35-year history, there has only been one previous DC-based doll, so their arrival is something of an event.

The Characters

The three dolls—which are 18 inches high and cost $145 each—are the first in a new collection, World by Us, that wrestles with issues such as racial equality, immigration, and environmentalism, so it makes sense to have them hail from a progressive place like DC. “It’s a city where people are taking action,” says Sharon Dennis Wyeth, a writer who grew up in Washington and was hired to pen Evette’s story.

The Team

The World by Us line is being guided by activists and experts, including some with area connections: Katrina Lashley, program coordinator at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum; M. Lucero Ortiz, an attorney who specializes in immigration; and Alexandria teen Naomi Wadler, who memorably spoke at the 2018 March for Our Lives rally.

The Backstories

American Girl dolls often have related books that tell their stories and explore the issues they face. For Makena, that’s grappling with racial injustice. Maritza tackles immigration issues. And Evette—a rare biracial American Girl doll—lives near the Anacostia River and is interested in the environment. “I envisioned Evette’s family as divided along racial lines, which would make Evette unhappy,” says Wyeth. “She loves both of her grandmothers and wants them to get along.”

This article appears in the December 2021 issue of Washingtonian.

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Jason Fontelieu
Editorial Fellow