American Girl’s Girl of the Year 2017: Gabriela McBride! + ‘Girl of the Year 2017’ Is Set To Last More Than A Year!

31 Dec

In West Philadelphia, born and raised

On the playground is where I spent most of my days…

You readers like that ‘Fresh Prince‘ reference right there?

That’s the first thing that came to mind when I heard about American Girl’s newest Girl of the Year 2017.

If you don’t know what American Girl is:

American Girl is a premium brand for girls and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT, www.mattel.com), a creations company that inspires the wonder of childhood. Headquartered in Middleton, WI, American Girl offers an inspiring world of dolls, content, and experiences that nourish a girl’s spirit and help develop her strength of character. Best-selling lines include Truly Me™, Girl of the Year™, Bitty Baby™, WellieWishers™, and the classic historical character line BeForever™. The company sells products through its award-winning catalogue, on americangirl.com, in its proprietary U.S. experiential retail stores, and at select specialty retailers nationwide. Outside of the U.S, American Girl products are sold in specialty boutiques at select Indigo™ and Chapters™ in Canada and El Palacio de Hierro locations in Mexico City. By inspiring girls to be their best, American Girl has earned the loyalty of millions and the praise and trust of parents and educators.

If you’re a fan of the American Girls, but have been out of the American Girl loop for awhile, you probably don’t know why I made that reference in the introduction. Let me introduce to you GABRIELA MCBRIDE.

girl-of-the-year

Gabriela is a true talent who gets creative for a cause. She is considered a quiet, creative girl growing up in a family of artists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (exactly why I made that Fresh Prince reference). Her mother is especially passionate about the performing arts. Her mother is founder and director of the arts center Gabriela loves and her dance instructor.

Gabriela is also interested in the performing arts (particularly tap, hip-hop, and ballet) and poetry. Aside from dancing and poetry, Gabriela also helps run a sandwich shop.

Gabriela has a reason she’s so quiet: She struggles with stuttering.

In the first book, Gabriela is said to be “going into the 6th grade”. Still not sure of her age, but she may be the “oldest” Girl of the Year produced.

Gabriela is a true creative talent who uses the power of poetry to help her break down barriers and overcome a personal challenge with stuttering.

Gabriela inherited a love of the arts from her parents, especially her mother, but spoken word poetry is becoming her own passion. Although Gabriela often finds herself in a battle with her own words because of her stuttering, she discovers that her poetry, filled with wit and honesty, helps her speech flow more easily and gives her the confidence to find her voice to help save her beloved community arts center from being torn down.

American Girl Press Release

Despite Gabriela’s struggles, she’s still witty, honest, and courageous!

Her book cover and synopsis are out. Are you ready? {insert drumroll}

gabriela-book-1

Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Yes, believe it. Finally, finally American Girl has released their first African American Girl of the Year character!

After seeing the name Gabriela trademarked, most assumed the character would be of Latin/Hispanic heritage. It turns out it was set aside for an African American character.

Gabriela is set to have a series of FOUR books (yes, four, 4). The first book will be out in January. The next one comes out in March. The other two will be released throughout the rest of the year.

Book synopsis 1: Gabby loves expressing herself — especially in the dance studio — but lately, poetry is becoming her art form of choice, and for good reason: Gabby struggles with stuttering, and spoken word poetry helps her speech flow more freely. Still, compared to how confident she feels on the dance floor, speaking up can be scary. When the city threatens to close her beloved community arts center, Gabby is determined to find a way to help. Can she harness the power of her words and rally her community to save Liberty Arts?

Teresa E. Harris is the author and it is her first time writing for American Girl.

*This will be updated as more information is released.

And now, what all American Girl fans have been waiting for…

The reveal of the doll!

 

melodys-pjs

More items and one of her books will be available Spring 2016.

Gabriela’s doll is really adorable in these pictures, but…

This is where my excitement diminishes. I came to the realization that she’s not just a doll of color. I came to the realization that if I look beyond her color, I have very mixed feelings…

 

Gabriela McBride is considered by many of the American Girl Fan Community to be the LAST GIRL OF THE YEAR.

For those who don’t know, there have been rumors that American Girl plans on ending the Girl of the Year line after Gabriela (possibly to make room for their rumored Contemporary line). I’m not sure how true the rumors are, but it is a FACT that there will be changes to the Girl of the Year line in 2018.

In American Girl’s press release, they stated:

Additional Gabriela products and books will be available starting in spring 2017, and—for the first time—the new Girl of the Year collection will be available for a full 12 months and beyond.

On facebook, American Girl has confirmed that they have plans to release their next girl of the year in 2018. So does this mean Gabriela will be available along with the new Girl of the Year?

American Girl said they don’t have plans to retire the GOTY line, but they’ve been known to hold back from revealing a retirement or archival before.

american-girls-message

 

One part of me is happy that she will last long enough for me to save for her collection.

Another part of me is sad that I may not have a Girl of the Year to look forward to next year. It was sort of an American Girl tradition.

And another part of me is just a bit frustrated with the design of the doll and her collection…

Here…at this moment…I have to analyze this objectively.

This Girl of the Year is really mediocre as a doll in comparison to dolls prior.

Here I am, being the Negative Nancy. Call me a self-hating black woman, a coon, whatever. I’m know I’m going to hear it all. I don’t care. I can’t fully accept her as a “great” Girl of the Year character, not under the current circumstances (with this possibly being the final GOTY doll).

If you’re an American Girl fan, you can probably better understand where I’m coming from. Newcomers may find her to be a great doll addition. And she isn’t garbage, but she has flaws.

I fell in LOVE with Gabriela’s story. I love the fact that she loves poetry and how she uses poetry to overcome her own disability. I think she’s a good role model for girls. I fell in love with this story so hard, even though I haven’t read it all, I want to buy two copies.

However, I have my hang-ups.

First off, this doll is #46 from the Truly Me line. She doesn’t just look like #46. She IS #46.

46

Truly Me #46

I always thought that doll was beautiful. I was sad when she was retired. And I am personally happy to see her return (especially because I don’t collect the Truly Me dolls). But I know plenty of people who said they already have this doll. This means there will be quite a few people who aren’t interested. It always leaves me uneasy when I hear that people don’t want to buy a doll of color. It’s especially bad because Gabriela is the only African American character (in 15 years) to have been produced (or rather “picked”) for the line AND she is supposed to remain in the line through 2018.

Some fans have expressed that American Girl, LLC has put a lot of effort into making the Caucasian American Girls look different and unique, but clearly didn’t do the same for Gabriela. Some feel they didn’t really plan on making an African American character for the line. Some people feel the company rushed production of her because the demand was so high. Basically, they pulled out a retired doll, put clothes on her, gave her a story, and called her Gabriela. Some people feel Gabriela is recycled and doesn’t reflect the same effort the company has put into former Girl of the Year dolls.

I can see their point. Maybe they have given up caring because they wanted the line to come to an end. Maybe they recognized the popularity of #46 and wanted to make her into a character.

Regardless of the reason, this part has been disappointing for most fans.

I don’t have #46, so I feel compelled to get Gabriela, but I wish she was designed in a way that would compel others to want to buy her.

The second problem I have with Gabriela is the fact that she is a DANCER.

I have to be fair about this. I talked about Isabelle being another dancer, I talked about Lea being another tropical princess, so I can’t let this slide.

This Girl of the Year is supposed to last for more than 12 months, she is the ONLY African American character, and you stick her with one of the most unoriginal themes? It doesn’t hurt the story, which incorporates poetry and overcoming disabilities, but it certainly hurts the collection.

Marisol was a tap dancer, ballet dancer, Mexican folk dancer, and jazz dancer. Isabelle danced ballet and modern dance. And now Gabriela! How many dancers does Girl of the Year need?

Because other “dancing” dolls came out, I’m not really interested in the majority of Gabriela’s playsets or accessories.

american-girl-marisol

isabelle-barre-set-hr

What would I need with two ballet barres?

I just can’t get excited AGAIN about another dancer when American Girl has done the theme TWICE before.

I know there are other people out there feeling the same way. And I just don’t like the idea that the first African American character in this line is not unique enough to be a MAJOR sell-out this year.

The final insult is that American Girl has stated on their facebook page that they don’t have major plans to release a movie for her! It takes at least a year to create a movie, so if they haven’t thought of one now, I don’t know if she’s ever getting one!

Still, she’s going to be around in 2018, so only time will tell. But she clearly seems slapped together.

Despite all of that, there are some American Girl fans who are excited about Gabriela. Some are even willing to buy her even though they already have #46! Some people like her dance collection the best out of the three. And some people are new to American Girl and missed collecting the other dance items.

Since Gabriela will be out more than one year, at least none of us have to worry about her selling out within one year. People will have the opportunity to save up for her and have a chance to get her between this year and next year.

That wraps up my review of the new Girl of the Year.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you all think of the new Girl of the Year and my article!

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13 Responses to “American Girl’s Girl of the Year 2017: Gabriela McBride! + ‘Girl of the Year 2017’ Is Set To Last More Than A Year!”

  1. HopeGrim 2016/12/31 at 12:40 #

    That’s why her doll looked familiar. Ah but alas I love her. I usually use writing to explore emotions I’m too afraid to confront, so I really connected with her. I feel if she had been a 1st generation American from a West African family and did tribal dances, she could have had a different twist on the usual dancer. Although, I’m super excited for her story and finally a BLACK GOTY.

    Like

    • generationnext 2016/12/31 at 14:25 #

      Yes, yes, yes! I don’t have #46, so Gabriela’s doll will be mine! Though I have some dance items from Marisol and Isabelle, I love some of Gabriela’s dance outfits and her mic, headphones, and laptop. It’s just so darn cute.

      More items are due to come out in March, so maybe there will be a diverse range of items and clothes by then. 🙂 I can also save more of cash by waiting.

      I also connected with her, as a writer, and that was why I was super excited when I heard her story. I have to support her.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jessica Lewis 2017/01/01 at 09:08 #

    I completely agree with your commentary. My girls look forward to the Girl of the Year with such excitement. We were disappointed that she is another dancer. And to hear that this may be the last Girl of the Year is also sad. Does Mattel know how much excitement is generated with the annual reveal of the next girl?

    Like

    • generationnext 2017/01/01 at 13:22 #

      Yes. The new contemporary line that is being released for American Girl was put up as a priority for this year and next year, and it’s clearly obvious Girl of the Year hardly received any real attention. Tenny Grant is already designed for the line and set to be released as early as next month. They are for an older crowd, middle schoolers, and apparently American Girl sees more profit that way. Girls are much more sophisticated than they were even 10 years ago.

      Like

    • generationnext 2017/01/01 at 13:23 #

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Jessica. 🙂

      Like

  3. Bambuc 2017/01/05 at 16:55 #

    Thank you for this post. It was very informative and helpful. I’m a doll collector(fashion dolls and AG dolls also) and interesting on AG dolls. You’re right, it’s boring that this girl is a dancer too. There is nothing new in this doll.

    Like

    • generationnext 2017/01/08 at 09:31 #

      Yes, she really isn’t anything special and really Girl of the Year Lea was boring, too. But at least Lea’s doll looked different from other dolls. It feels like American Girl has run out of interesting ideas or has thrown an easy idea together to make it work.

      But since I don’t have #46, I will still get her because she is a pretty doll in her own right. I also love the laptop with headphones and the purple outfit. But I’m just not interested in more dancing outfits and a dancing collection. It’s too soon.

      American Girl said she will come out with more diverse outfits in March, so we shall see.

      Thank you for commenting! What are some of your favorite fashion dolls?

      Like

  4. Mikayla 2017/01/08 at 02:35 #

    I was suggested this website by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else
    know such detailed about my difficulty. You are amazing!
    Thanks!

    Like

    • generationnext 2017/01/12 at 22:44 #

      This certainly wasn’t written by your cousin, but I thank him for referencing my blog. Thank you for commenting and sharing your difficulty.

      Like

  5. yousef 2017/02/03 at 19:18 #

    Hey!! I haven’t been here in a while and glad I’m back. Remember me?? I’m Yousef and now I’m almost 12. The last time I was here was when I was 10 and now I have 2 AG dolls. I’m so glad AG is finally making a boy doll!!!!!!!! I can’t wait because I’m getting him.

    Like

    • generationnext 2017/02/04 at 05:44 #

      Hey yousef! I’m glad you’re excited about Logan Everett. And thanks for coming back!

      I remember you, of course. An article about Logan Everett (and Tenney Grant) is coming soon. 🙂

      Like

      • yousef 2017/02/04 at 09:31 #

        Yay!!! Can’t wait!!

        Like

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  1. American Girl Introduces Five New Characters for 2017 + “Perma” Panties | Generation Next - 2017/02/16

    […] already did my review for Gabriela McBride, so I won’t go into any more detail about […]

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