Saturday, December 6, 2008

American Girl is Bending My Mind

I think I said here once before that I wasn't going to get Laura an American Girl doll for Christmas this year, because she already has two (she got them for Xmas whens she was 4 and 6), and they don't get played with every day, and they're expensive, and well. . .yeah. So obviously, as soon as American Girl emailed me to say that they were having free shipping, I ordered a doll. I'm like the Manchurian Candidate of Christmas shopping--I just respond to my programming. Ho ho ho, speaking of programming, I just remembered the time that Frenemy Neighbor told me that the American Girl company is "run by feminists." Only she meant that as a warning. Good times in the 'hood.

Laura and her friend and I watched the Kit Kittredge movie, and we admired Kit's determination and spunkiness, so I was surprised when L said she wanted not Kit, but Kit's friend Ruthie. If you have any knowledge of the Kit story, you know that Ruthie is the daughter of the bank president, the one who is foreclosing on the houses of some of Kit and Ruthie's friends. (This is set during the Great Depression--the one in the 1930's, not this one right now.) I had to laugh, because it is so Laura to choose the doll who is living in more comfortable financial circumstances. When given the choice between the Colonial American dolls Felicity and Elizabeth, she chose the Tory, Elizabeth. Just in case the whole Revolution thing didn't work out, you know. A girl's gotta think of where her next pony is coming from.

So I'm not totally sure whether I'm going to keep the doll or not. I want to direct you to a beautiful post that Carrie wrote about taking her daughter to the AG store, because I think it identifies my dilemma--I see that it's extravagant (Laura has two dolls, for the love), but they are so beguiling, and I want something nice for her; I want to give her something so appealing. And she hasn't asked for anything else--she is NOT a mile-long Santa list kid. She asked for a Thomas the Train thing for her brother (she feels she must write on his behalf), and the doll, and a certain webkin. So here comes Ruthie.

But here's the mind-bending part. I was poking around the American Girl website, checking out a sale on doll accoutrements. Each historical doll has period toys she can play with, like a ragdoll or old timey roller skates. Sold separately, of course. Well, the 1970's doll Julie can play with a little Barbie styling head. Remember those things? It's like a bust of Barbie, and you fix her hair and put makeup on her face? Of course, that was big in the 70's, so Julie has one. And both Barbie and American Girl are now owned by Mattel, so it's a nice bit of cross-promotion for them. Balls, pure balls.

For a dizzying moment I experienced a mise en abyme of toys. If Julie has a Barbie, what's to stop AG from making a 1980's girl, say, Jessica, who could have a little American Girl doll for her historically-accurate toy? And that doll could have a tiny American Girl, and so on, and you see the situation. Each tiny doll more historically accurate than the last. And more adorable, at a microscopic level. Also compounding the problem, as The Onion has warned, if the trend of being nostalgic for the relatively recent past continues--having 1970's period dolls, we may be facing a terrifying "retro gap," leaving us stuck "expressing nostalgia for events which have yet to occur." (Go now and read that Onion article. You're welcome.)

Have a good Saturday night, y'all.


Keely said...

There is no 'Canadian Girl', so I'm only recently aware of the phenomenon and not really convinced of the appeal. But I've often wondered what we're going to do when we run out of things to 'retro'. Doesn't anybody have any bloody original ideas anymore??

Casey said...

I hold firm in my decision to never purchase one of those dolls. They all freak me out but those ones are especially bad. I'm glad you held firm as you clicked right through and used your free shipping! :)

Bren said...

My favorite American Girl is the one who can hear the cars roll by out on 441. You know, like waves, crashing on a beach?


Michele said...

So would the 80's doll have big hair and blue eye shadow?

Go for the dolls but keep them in excellent condition. They can be your daughter's college fund. Or her daughter's.

The Stiletto Mom said...

I don't think you were reading me when I wrote about American Doll but you should read this so you know what you are getting yourself into.

We have kit and another one named Sophie. Miss G loves them both and plays with them constantly. It's expensive and for sure a racket but at least they are wholesome, right? I am forever thankful the era of Bratz has ended in our home and I am now able to spend retarded amounts of money across the country at AG.

Welcome to the club Suburban Matron...happy to have you among us. :)

karenfromcanada said...

This note is for Keely above. There is a Canadian Girl, five of them in fact. They are not retro, though. They live in the here and now.

Carrie said...

Thanks for the link. Funny you should write this now, because, months after that visit, my MIL just asked Nutmeg what she wants for Xmas, and Nutmeg told her "an American Girl doll." She NEVER said that to US. Isn't it funny that she knows she can get higher end gifts from Grandma?

I told Grandma that I thought she was too young, but that it was her business. So I'm pretty sure she's getting one after all. I just hope
Grandma also sews her some little outfits cause I sure the hell ain't.

A Day That Is Dessert said...

Well said, Becky. All of it. I know what you mean about the reflex to order for your kids, and the complexities associated with giving gifts.

Becky said...

Casey, LOL, I am still holding firm, and the doll is out in the garage on a high shelf, in her UPS box!

Hootie, I thought it was so funny that Hilary Clinton used that song at her rallies (!).

Carrie, they do seem to have a sixth-sense for grandparent giving! Gets you off the hook I guess. And amen to it's better than Bratz! Mary Anne, your AG "spa night" is hilarious!

Also, I think the 80's doll would have big hair, an OP t-shirt, and friendship pins on her tennis shoes.

Anonymous said...

OMG. There is so much I don't know.