Each American Girl doll is unique. The company’s line of dollies portrays eight to twelve year-old girls from various cultures, eras, religions, and social standings with intricate backstories that can be read from the accompanying book where you can learn each doll’s stories from their perspective. And since the company made their first doll in 1986, they have come a long way in showcasing a variety of dolls.
In the October catalog of the famous doll company, Ivy Kimble, 4, stood beside a Christmas tree wearing a gleaming red dress with her hair on ponytails. The baby doll, which she clutched tightly by her side, wore a matching red garb. The two looked beautiful and ready for the Holidays. But Ivy is not your average print-ad model—she also has Down syndrome.
“It’s a big deal for her,” said her mom, Kristin Kimble, in an interview with WLS-TV. “There’s not a lot of print or media with a lot of kids with Down syndrome.”
American Girl spokeswoman told People how Ivy was a delight in the shoot. “She’s adorable and great to work with, and the shots we capture with her for our holiday catalogs are beautiful.”
Kristin remarked how American Girl featured Ivy is monumental for the presence of people with Down syndrome in print ads, especially for their families. To be ‘included’ is a beautiful feeling. The mother of four felt happy for Ivy and her daughters. “It’s great for my family because my kids our American Girl loves. I have four girls. And to have one of them in the catalog is every mother’s dream.”
Ivy’s appearance in the catalog is a testament to how kids with special needs can also become whoever they want to be. Kristin felt excited about her daughter’s experience with American Girl’s October catalog, but her excitement is not just about Ivy’s achievement. “For us, we want to keep seeing kids of all abilities out there in print.”
Like many parents with kids that have special needs, Kristin admires companies making a conscious effort to foster inclusivity. While she is beyond grateful for their bold step, she aspires that this kind of action comes off naturally for companies aside from American Girl.
The beauty and impact of Ivy’s photos did not stay in her pictures in the catalog. Since her time in the shoot, Ivy has sparked up conversations about Down syndrome and kids with special needs in print modeling. In People’s Facebook page, the post’s comment section flooded with support and admiration for the young girl.
“Every child is beautiful in their own way. It is important to recognize childhood is a beautiful thing, and every child deserves to feel like the most precious gift,” wrote Bridget Molloy in the comment section.
Aside from words of encouragement, plenty of netizens on the post were very vocal on how print models with Down syndrome like Ivy should be encouraged more. Ivy’s impact also opened conversations on how companies like American Girl should make dolls with Down syndrome.
Over the past years, American Girl made noticeable progress in building their brand more inclusive by offering customers dolls with diabetes care kit and wheelchairs.
Kristin immediately noticed her baby girl’s contribution to the narrative of people with Down syndrome. “My kids, people are asking them about Down syndrome now. ‘Oh, Ivy has Down syndrome, and she’s in the American Girl catalog?’” she said. “Yeah, everyone can be an American Girl, and that’s the great thing about it.’”