5 Reasons American Girl Dolls are Awesome and 1 Reason they Aren’t
Mothers and daughters love American Girl Dolls. I know they do because I’ve heard rave reviews about them from parents and heard confirmation of it from little girls. I wrote a critical post about a year ago about a particular American Doll character that had what was, in my opinion, a terribly sexist back story. I still think that doll was ill conceived and does a huge disservice to little girls who love their dads. I mean, what kid would buy a doll whose back story is that her father is a scumbag and her mother is a helpless victim of his misogyny? I still contend the only way that doll would get purchased is by an angry mother who wants to passively stick it to her ex-man, not by the free will of a little girl. Okay, that example aside – what about the rest of the American Girl line? To be honest, I dismissed the entire line of dolls after writing that first article last year. I didn’t care about them and I thought, based on the above example, that they were stupid, PC, anti-male, indoctrination products.
I was surprised that I got one of their catalogs in the mail yesterday (I don’t have a daughter and I’ve never bought anything doll related). It’s called American Girl: Follow Your Inner Star. It’s 63 pages of nothing but American Girl dolls and accessories. I said “Huh? Why am I getting this magazine?” Then, because I thought I might find something else to rant about if I looked hard enough, I went through the whole thing and read all the little doll biographies and examined the outfits and the make-it-yourself section. I said to Mely “I’m shocked!” and she said “What are you shocked about?” and I said “These dolls are really cool!” and she said “Yeah, that is shocking.” I couldn’t find anything to kvetch about! These dolls really are as cool as little girls and their mothers say.
5 Reasons Why They’re So Great:
1. Not Barbie: Has anybody seen Barbie these days? She hasn’t gotten any less trampy or unrealistic.
2. Cool Outfits: American Girl Dolls can be dressed in a variety of period specific outfits which appear to have a degree of realism and historical accuracy.
3. Books and Storylines: Each Doll has a series of books devoted to her real life counterpart (girls are the protagonists of each story, not dolls) and her personal life journey. For instance, Rebecca Rubin lives with her parents in an apartment in 1914 New York City. She dreams of being an actress and her favorite family tradition is observing the Sabbath. I haven’t read any of the books, but what I’m told that she discovers through the series that “it’s possible to blend old and new traditions without giving up your dreams.” The Doll, Rebecca Rubin, is a manifestation of the character in the book.
4. Customizable: Girls don’t have to buy a preloaded doll. They can pick from at least 20 stock models (that’s how many I see in the catalog, but they say there are even more on the website americangirl.com/choosedolls). After your daughter picks the doll with the hair color, style and eyes she wants, she can then proceed to festoon it with whatever outfits, jewelry and background accessories she likes, thereby creating a doll with a unique history of its own and perhaps the beginnings of a whole new story.
5. High Quality: For manufactured dolls, I’ve been told the American Girl Dolls can’t be beat. Again, I’ve never held one myself so I can’t vouch for that, but moms say they actually are worth the 95 dollar price tag. And, considering that I’ve recently heard that 100% custom, handmade dolls can go for over 1000 bucks, $95 seems perfectly reasonable. The dolls are quality, the accessories are quality, the clothes are quality, and so are the books that tell the stories of each American Girl.
My 1 Complaint:
1. Too Politically Correct: Felicity Merriman, for example, lives in 1774 New England. Her father is a patriot and so is she, but her best friend is a loyalist. The lesson she supposedly learns in the books is that “People can have different beliefs and still be friends.” Um, sorry little girl, but your friend’s dad and your dad are at war. What are you going to do when the war shows up and you’re out singing hippie songs with your little friend? You might want to wake up before a cannon ball drops through your tea party. Just saying. Felicity is just one example of several plausible but highly unlikely scenarios where an American Girl suddenly learns about Kwanza or some other such nonsense. I had to have at least one complaint, right?
My Favorite Doll:
Josefina Montoya: She’s the youngest of 4 girls growing up on a “rancho” in 1824 New Mexico. Apart from the fact that New Mexico was still Mexico in 1824 and only 3 years removed from being Spanish, the doll itself is pretty awesome. She dresses just like a little Spanish girl would have dressed (Historically speaking they never considered themselves Mexican, they thought of themselves as Spanish even after becoming Mexican, briefly Texan, and later American – history lesson free of charge). She comes complete with a pretty little shawl, a flower for her hair and cool looking moccasins. She discovers in her books that “You can open your heart to change and still hold on to treasured traditions.” That description leads me to believe the books got the history right. Yay!