Meet Joss Kendrick, the surf-loving cheerleader who never lets her hearing loss get in the way of her goals. She’s American Girl’s 2020 Girl of the Year, and its first doll to flaunt a hearing aid.
First revealed on Good Morning America, the brown-haired, brown-eyed character was born with hearing loss so wears a hearing aid in her right ear. She grew up surfing in Huntington Beach, California, and after her brother dared her to try out for her school's competitive cheer team, she discovered that riding waves isn’t her only passion.
“American Girl has a rich legacy of creating timeless characters who encourage girls to reach new heights and discover who they’re meant to be,” American Girl general manager/president Jamie Cygielman said in a press release. “We’re proud to welcome Joss Kendrick, whose stories are sure to instill confidence and character in girls who are learning to think about the possibilities in their own lives.”
To develop the doll, Mattel-owned American Girl teamed up with Women’s Deaf Shortboard champion Crystal DaSilva, Gallaudet University’s Dr. Sharon Pajka, who specializes in portrayals of deaf characters in adolescent literature, and several other experts in surfing, competitive cheerleading, and hearing loss.
And to promote Joss, American Girl is partnering with 17-year-old surfer Caroline Marks, who will make her Olympic debut this summer on the first-ever U.S. Women’s Olympic surfing team.
“I’m so excited to be a part of the Joss launch and share her message that passion and hard work can really take a girl places—even to the Olympics,” Marks said in the press release.
American Girl has also donated $25,000 to the Hearing Loss Association of America and will continue to promote the organization’s events and mission throughout the year.
You can shop Joss’s collection—including surf attire, cheer attire, two books, and a plush English bulldog named Murph—now on the American Girl site.
[h/t Good Morning America]