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American Girl Keeps it Real ... White

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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BAGGAGE INCLUDED Julie

The American Girl Doll Company, best known for promoting patriotism in young girls through rubber and artificial hair, has announced its first historical character in five years. Julie Albright, a girl dealing with "issues of the turbulent 1970s," is a "fun-loving" blonde hippie-type from San Francisco with a penchant for basketball (her coach, alas, won't let her play). Available in August 2007, she is the first American Girl to have divorced parents, to prefer sports and pants, and to fight for feminism, making her the most politically charged doll the company has ever produced. Could it be that parent company Mattel is trying to drum up controversy to counteract its dolls' plummeting sales?

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If that's the case, the true controversy might be the fact that Julie will be the historical collection's eighth Caucasian doll, as opposed to only three existing minority characters. And while Julie's best friend, Ivy Ling, a Chinese-American gymnast, will be released in doll form at the same time, she is not being promoted as heavily, with only one accompanying book and limited accessories—including a gold-plated gong.

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