I loved American Girl dolls when I was young. I LOVED Samantha the best. She was a turn of the century girl who “never met a tree she couldn’t climb, a rule she couldn’t ruffle, or a friend she couldn’t help. She’s all heart and always ready to lend a hand to somebody in need.” I would read the books and dream of a time long ago and all of the new advances that came with a new century. Or maybe I could dream of my friend Molly. Molly was a World War 2 era girl whose father was away at war. She was feisty & couldn’t be a follower if she tried.
It’s no secret that as generations have moved along we’ve gotten more and more self-focused. But I had a revelation this past week when our annual American Girl holiday catalog came in the mailbox. Of course my 4-year-old daughter was enamored with all of the pretty dolls, their pretty clothes, the accessories. Of course her tender eyes started searching for a doll that looked “just like her”. You know the ones where you can get matching pajamas or pretty matching dresses.
It dawned on me, maybe I’m just getting old, but when I was a kid (YES I realize that statement in and of it’s self makes me “old”… just go grab me my cane… but the used to come with storybooks that placed the doll in a historical setting and you got to know the doll and loved her for who SHE was, NOT because she looked just like YOU.
But my point is just that now the dolls have nothing to do with storyline and plot and THEIR life. Now the doll is all about OUR life. No longer about history and experiencing the time period through the eyes of a young girl. Now it’s about how she can look like me, dress like me and fit in to my life. The self-focus is pervasive in our current society.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy American Girl dolls. This is in no way a cry to oust a company for any changes they’ve made in their product line. I get that all businesses have to respond to the current market climate. I think the dolls are precious and have lots of great empowering messages for young girls. This is just a commentary on the sneaky ways our daughters are taught to make this world about themselves rather than about others. That knowing about history is less important than how SHE fits right now in THIS world.
As a mother of a young girl, I do feel especially lead to show her that this world is more than what she sees in front of her. That history is something to be learned from and grown through. It’s just another way my eyes are open to soft messaging through children’s toys. After all aren’t these the children who will one day lead our world?
I'm curious to know your thoughts?