Meet Corinne Tan, American Girl’s 2022 Aspenite Girl of the Year doll
American Girl launches latest contemporary doll with pop-up at Buttermilk
Meet Corinne Tan: a lifelong Aspen local who feels at home on the slopes and is training her pup, Flurry, to be a search and rescue dog.
She’s also 18 inches tall and comes with an accompanying book; her crew includes little sister, Gwynn, and a stuffed version of Flurry.
Corinne is this year’s American Girl doll Girl of Year, the latest in a two-decade-long lineage of contemporary dolls with present-day backstories released by the company. This year’s rollout included a chalet-themed pop-up at the base of Buttermilk on Saturday with arts and crafts, hot cocoa, photo-ops and an appearance by longtime Snowmass Ski Area patrol pup Piper, a fitting stand-in for Flurry. (The two dogs, one real and one fictional, look nearly identical.)
Each Girl of the Year — as well as the historical characters who formed the foundation of the brand, like Civil War-era Addy and Great Depression-era Kit — is released with books and a backstory that aims to be relatable or revealing or both.
“It either acts as a mirror for them to see themselves or a window for them to see (an)other life, another story,” Jamie Cygielman, the president and general manager of the company, said Saturday during an interview at the Buttermilk pop-up.
For a lot of little Aspenites, the 2022 Girl of the Year means this year’s story will look more like a mirror than a window. Corinne is an avid skier; her sister, Gwynn, is learning to ice skate. The Tan sisters visit an on-mountain shrine in the first book, “Corinne.” The cover of the second book, “Corinne to the Rescue,” overlooks town from a vantage point that bears a notable resemblance to Ute Rock.
Two longtime locals, Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol Director Lori Spence and Aspen Skating Club coach Greta Gessele, even weighed in on authenticity and accuracy, according to a news release.
But that’s not to say only lifelong mountain kids can relate to Corinne’s story, which is told in two books — the wintertime “Corinne” and summer-set “Corinne to the Rescue” — written by Wendy Wan-Long Shang and illustrated by Peijin Yang.
The Tan sisters may move into cushier digs when their parents divorce, and their mom remarries someone who lives in an Aspen townhome, but that also calls for an adjustment to a new space and new family dynamics. Corinne, who is Chinese American, also celebrates her heritage and faces anti-Asian racism amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
American Girl also consulted William Wei, a professor of modern Chinese history, and Jennifer Ho, a professor of ethnic studies and anti-Asian racism expert — both of the University of Colorado, Boulder — as well as Angela Liu, American Girl’s digital marketing manager and a diversity task force member.
This year American Girl is partnering with AAPI Youth Rising, a youth-led organization that focuses on bringing awareness to xenophobia and promoting education and appreciation of Asian American and Pacific Islander history. American Girl donated $25,000 to the organization’s ONE/180 pledge, which asks educators to commit to at least one classroom lesson about Asian American and Pacific Islander history and culture during the school year.
“What I really hope is that there is some part of Corinne’s story that makes readers feel seen, whether it’s because they are Asian American, or because they’re part of a blended family, or because they love skiing,” author Shang said in a news release. “I think when readers feel seen, they realize that they matter and their experiences matter, and that they are meant to be the stars of their own stories.”
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