For the second-straight year, the American Girl doll of 2018 is a person of color—and this time it’s a girl who wants to be the first person to land on Mars.
As American Girl announced late last week, the doll of the year is named Luciana Vega, an 11-year-old who the company hopes can inspire the next generation of women.
“For us, it’s all about helping girls develop their strength of character—something that is more important in our world than ever,” American Girl spokesperson Julie Parks told Refinery 29. “Luciana shows girls what it means to be a girl of strong character—where creative thinking, collaboration, and STEM literacy provide opportunities for meaningful growth and development. Luciana empowers girls to push boundaries, defy stereotypes, and embrace risks that will teach them about failure and success as they chart their own course in life.”
Despite its expensive catalog of dolls and accessories, American Girl has proved to be a progressive toymaker. The 2017 doll of the year, Gabriela, was a person of color who’s a spoken-word poet despite a stuttering problem. The doll company also added a boy doll named Logan to its collection in 2017 along with a Korean-American named Z Yang and a Hawaiian character from World War II named Nanea Mitchell.
Luciana will be available in American Girl stores on Monday, and she comes with a flight suit and a space suit.
According to ABC News, American Girl worked with multiple NASA officials to make sure the background story and accessories were accurate.
“I was able to follow Lucy through all of her story and adventures, and provide feedback from an astronaut’s perspective on the authenticity of her story and the activities that she participated in,” Dr. Megan McArthur Behnken, a NASA astronaut, told ABC News. “I’ve been in space and fixed the Hubble space telescope, so I have some perspective on how we use robotics, how we train for robotics.”
American Girl is also sponsoring 20 scholarships for girls to attend a space camp.
“We know from various studies that encouraging girls in STEM opportunities can positively influence their personal development and identity,” Parks said.
H/T Refinery 29