By Brittany Chiu
American Girl, the doll maker, recently just released their “Girl of the Year” for 2023. Her name is Kavi Sharma, short for Kavika. As you might have guessed from the name, Kavi is Desi. She’s from New Jersey and loves to sing and dance. Her dream is to perform onstage one day, inspired after her grandma, Dadima, took her to see Wicked on Broadway on her 12th birthday.
Asian Americans are diverse and should not be lumped into one narrative, but we do have shared experiences. Many of our immigrant parents or grandparents came to the United States seeking the American Dream and toiled so much just for a better life. Sometimes, the experiences that they went through and the expectations that they have for the next generation might not always connect with the young ones. Kavi is not only able to balance her duties as a student and daughter but also able develop her talents with the support of her entire family. With their encouragement, she takes a bold first step to perform at the school talent revue, serving as a springboard to her dream.
But Kavi isn’t just your typical Asian American success story nor is her story solely about Asian family culture. Through Kavi, Indian culture is highlighted and honored. She is not the first South Asian doll created by American Girl, but she is the first South Asian to be featured as the “Girl of the Year”. This is a giant leap in recognition of Indian Americans and a celebration of their heritage. There is a sense of pride, positive curiosity, and joy when seeing young minority girls embrace their ethnic wear. With Kavi, her wardrobe collection includes an ornate blue and red lehenga choli with matching gold jewelry.
Kavi’s story will be shared in an illustrated paperback journal with the doll and a hardcover novel, “It’s Showtime, Kavi,” by Varsha Bajaj, debuting in March 2023. Bajaj was one of the experts who worked with American Girl to ensure Kavi’s story details are rooted in authentic practices, culture, and the history of India.