The new American Girl catalog came to our mailbox not too many days ago.
Those of you with daughters are nodding in sympathy. Those of you either with no children or boys only, lemme 'splain.
The American Girl Company is a mega corporation that tries to pass itself off as a small loving purveyor of dolls while still raking in squillions of dollars in sales every single second. I know this because I personally have forked over scads of Pete's hard-earned salary on behalf of our resident girls.
The American Girl Megacorp specializes in 18" tall dolls. What would cost $25 at Tar-zhay or Walmart is closer to $100 at American Girl, due solely to very slick marketing. The historical dolls are really what pay for the top executives' yachts and trophy wives. Here's an example:
Meet Felicity. No really, meet her. Because that's what happens if two parents such Pete and myself are foolish enough to hand over our bucks and allow this creature into our house. Felicity is the Colonial era doll and she comes with the book Meet Felicity. Very creative, I know. Meet Felicity leads to other books and that's where the trouble starts.
There are a number of historical dolls -- Samantha from circa 1904, Kit from the Depression era (1930s), Addie from the Reconstruction (post Civil War) era, Kirsten from the ... well, it was 18-something and I really don't feel like doing the research now.
What matters is that each doll comes with her own back story and a series of six books in which your darling daughter can get to know her doll. After that, your daughter will want to buy things for her doll. Actually, she won't do the buying because what child has that kind of money? YOU will do the buying, along with your child's equally gullible grandparents. Such as, the outfits that go with each and every book. And accessories. And furniture -- again, illustrated in each book. Because the books are a bit formulaic, each doll has variations on the same themes. Basic attire and accessories for the first book. School stuff for book #2 -- eg. Felicity Learns a Lesson or Kirsten Learns a Lesson. Christmas stuff for book #6 -- Changes for Felicity/Kirsten/Maia/etc. I think you get the idea.
Why yes I do know a real whole lot about all this. In fact, far too much of my gray matter has been given over to all things American Girl.
We originally bought the books for Graceful because they're actually pretty decent representations of the various historical eras and not too badly written. We knew she'd eventually hanker for a doll and were prepared for that. Two years ago, Santa brought Felicity to Graceful and Nellie to Elegant (who chose her favorite doll for the name alone). The girls were thrilled and that was what really mattered. After all, every girl needs a special doll that she has forever and then passes on to her own daughter.
Of course, as happens in these matters, the doll situation exploded out of control. We bought a couple of outfits for the dolls. Then one of the grandmothers bought the dolls their very own four poster beds that cost more than a real bed at IKEA (not that that's saying much, but you get the idea). And then more outfits and more accessories. And so on. The same grandmother bought the girls each a second doll.
Now it's as though the American Girl company owns stock in Jenworld and has furnished the girls' bedrooms. I keep telling myself that it's a hell of a lot better than Barbies or Bratz.
If you really want to deeply immerse yourself into all this -- and lose a tiny bit of your sanity in the process -- you should visit one of the American Girl stores (Chicago, New York, and L.A.) with a girl who's related to you and who has designs on the money in your bank account. I took the girls to the Chicago store last year. FIVE HOURS LATER, we walked out with bulging shopping bags. We shopped until my credit card whimpered every time I reached for it. In addition, we saw a show and had tea with our dolls. We did not, however, visit the doll hair salon or the doll photography studio. I did show some restraint. We got back to the hotel and I immediately started searching for the mini bar that did not exist in our room. Pete had wisely spent his day at a conference, whistling merrily as he left because he would not be personally visiting the American Girl store that day.
Anyhoodle, I bring all this up because the American Girl folks have recently introduced a new doll from a new historical era.
Anyone want to guess what HISTORICAL era the new doll is from? Anyone? Anyone?
Yes, 19-fucking-74. As in, when I was in kindergarten. I don't know about y'all, but I think that's a little bit too recent to be considered historical. As far as I'm concerned, any history involved with these dolls should not only pre-date me, but also my parents.
I'm not sure what the American Girl people are trying to prove, but I'm going to be mighty pissed if the next doll that comes out is the 1980s doll, who comes complete with her own little Walkman and Madonna cassette, as well as legwarmers and other 1980s fashions that are best left in the past. Or, the 1990s doll who comes with her own grunge-wear and Kurt Cobain CDs.
So the 1970s doll is bringing me down a bit. And it's not like I can just ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist. Because the same grandmother who bought the girls their second dolls has already bought the girls the 1970s doll and her best friend as Christmas presents, so I'll soon have Julie and Ivy here in my house, taunting me. Pretending to be old and historical when the 1970s were really not THAT long ago.
Of course, when the dolls were first introduced, my children were utterly captivated by her. She was so wonderful. So historical. So old fashioned. One of the girls actually looked up from her worshipful study of the catalog and asked me if that was what things were really like "way back then."
I think it's time for me to go slather on some wrinkle cream.