We are headed into the city this morning to visit American Girl Place. My 8 year old daughter is into the historic dolls, in particular Samantha, and she has been waiting for months. She loves having tea parties, taking care of babies, and playing school with Samantha. I am so thankful that she and her friends get jazzed up about the historic American Girl dolls instead of having “crushes” and watching Jessie. She has developed patience by saving her money or waiting for Christmas to outfit her doll. And the historic dolls’ stories have boosted her knowledge of history.
However, one look at the above photo from the American Girl Place website, and I can see why parents criticize the American Girl empire as a consumerist, materialist cult, designed to suck girls in one doll, then one accessory, then one outfit, then one fully-furnished dollhouse at a time. We have had to steer away from the single-minded obsession with more, more, more.
All in all, the clothes and accessories are lovely. The dolls are high quality, but they are designed to be played with, unlike the fragile Madame Alexander dolls of my childhood. And when an American Girl doll’s story is presented in a historically- and culturally-accurate context, centered around values, my daughter gains a whole lot more from Samantha than she would from Barbie or Bratz.
So off we go. Samantha will get a new hairstyle and a new outfit tomorrow in the glitzy doll palace downtown, then we will happily follow her back to the Victorian era where she belongs.