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American Girl makes history with its first South Asian Girl of the Year doll

The Mattel-owned doll brand named Kavi Sharma, an Indian American girl from New Jersey who loves to sing, as its Girl of the Year.
American Girl unveiled its 2023 Girl of the Year, Kavi Sharma.
American Girl unveiled its 2023 Girl of the Year, Kavi Sharma.Mattel

American Girl unveiled its 2023 Girl of the Year on Thursday, and in a brand first, the title goes to a South Asian doll. 

Kavi Sharma, an Indian American from New Jersey, loves to sing, dance and hang out with her friends. Just a short train ride away, her favorite place to visit is New York City — specifically Broadway. Kavi, who takes weekly classical Indian dance classes, and her tight-knit family also celebrate their culture through holidays, food and clothing. 

“As we ring in a new year, we’re excited to have Kavi Sharma take center stage in our popular Girl of the Year lineup,” Jamie Cygielman, general manager of American Girl, said in a news release. “Just like all our beloved characters, Kavi’s culturally relevant and aspirational stories help inspire kids to shine bright in their own way and be proud of who they are.”

A journal detailing her life accompanies each Kavi doll, and later in 2023, a separately sold hardcover book written by The New York Times bestseller Varsha Bajaj will delve deeper into Kavi’s backstory.

“The story is important to all the young girls who will see parts of their lives represented,” Bajaj said in a Q&A published on the American Girl website Thursday. “Stories can be both mirrors and windows, allowing readers to see themselves and others who are different from them, and I hope that Kavi’s story is a welcoming window for girls who might be unfamiliar with Kavi’s world.”

Kavi’s storyline was developed by a team of advisers that included Bajaj, choreographer and dance studio owner Rina Shah and 12-year-old Indian American dancer Arusha, according to American Girl.

Her storyline is also accompanied by a partnership with the Broadway Education Alliance’s Camp Broadway program, which aims to make theater arts accessible and relevant for kids.

American Girl, a subsidiary of toy company Mattel, debuted its first Girl of the Year in 2001. Although Kavi is the company’s first South Asian Girl of the Year, she is not the first South Asian doll. Sonali Matthews, whose parents are from India, was a companion doll to 2009’s Girl of the Year, Chrissa Maxwell.

CORRECTION (Jan. 3, 2023, 9:45 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the age of Arusha. She is 12 years old, not 13.