Kira Bailey, the Mattel brand’s “2021 Girl of the Year,” is a 10-year-old from Michigan committed to conservation action. She made her first appearance on Dec. 31, 2020, in company stores, online and on American Girl’s social media pages.
“The 2021 Girl of the Year is a friend to all animals,” wrote American Girl on its Facebook page. “Kira gets to cuddle a koala joey and feed a kangaroo but also teaches girls about being responsible and respecting the Earth.”
In the accompanying book, “Kira Down Under,” Kira visits an animal sanctuary in Australia operated by her great-aunts Mamie and Lynette, who are in a same-sex marriage.
“Kira’s story isn’t all animal cuddles and cuteness, though,” reveals the American Girl website. “She faces challenges about everything from friendship to dealing with family health scares to taking responsibility for her mistakes. Through her story, Kira provides a powerful role model for girls.”
Kira isn’t the brand’s first venture into LGBT content. In September, their advice book “A Smart Girl’s Guide: Crushes” (formerly “A Smart Girl’s Guide to Boys”) was updated to include same-sex relationships. And in February, American Girl will publish the book “Pets,” which features a mixed-race family with two dads. It also published the book “Understanding Families” in 2019. Additionally, American Girl has helped raise funds for Girls, Inc., which promotes reproductive freedom and LGBT-inclusive sex education, and in 2015, its magazine profiled a girl with two dads.
Kira has been a regular fixture on the American Girl Facebook page, sharing her love of animals — and of cuddles.
However, Kira is the first American Girl character whose story mentions a same-sex relationship. In “Kira Down Under,” she explains that her aunts married “after the law was changed to allow it,” referring to the Australian Parliament’s 2017 legalization of gay marriage.
In the same month that Kira was introduced to the world, American Girl made a public commitment to anti-racism, pledging to hire more Black writers and feature more racially diverse characters.
The Kira doll and book retails for $110, while you can buy a set with accessories such as a backpack and a plush kangaroo for $165. You can also purchase other bundles, outfits, accessories (like an animal exam table and camping supplies) and matching items for girls.