The holiday season is officially upon us. My itty bitty Christmas tree is decorated, snow is on the ground and black friday has come and gone. Back in the day, this is the time when I’d sit with my American Girl catalog and cup of hot chocolate and pour over each page, carefully dog-earing the pages with things I wanted and then circling each item, just to be sure my parents knew exactly which item I wanted. Yes, I was spoiled. I got Kirsten’s trunk and bed. I’m pretty sure I had all of her outfits too. And most of Josephina’s and some of Samantha’s… Yes, the American Girl doll’s were (and are) expensive, but, in today’s world of Bratz dolls and toys that make noise, I think the American Girl dolls were totally worth the money–a quality, non-slutty, doll that also comes with a series of books, encouraging girls of today to learn about our history and to read.
Now, I can’t say that owning a Kirsten doll made me interested in history, or even that Kirsten spurred my interest in pioneer history, but she certainly helped! It didn’t hurt that we look the same and live in the same state, apparently a requirement for those who own Kirsten dolls, according to this little essay. It’s pretty darn accurate (I’m hand making my Christmas presents), and had me laughing the whole time. Although, I’m not positive I’d survive in a post-apacolpytic world.
Oddly, my other doll, Josefina, was nothing like me. I do not live in New Mexico nor am I Hispanic. I guess we’re both Catholic and she’s a fun heroine, but that’s where the similarities die. Perhaps it was a subconscious effort on my part (or a conscious effort on my parent’s part) to, in the words of Chiara Atik, “encourage broad world-views in a market saturated with white dolls.”
My last doll was an American Girl of Today, and she had brown hair and I bought glasses for her. This way I could pretend she was Samantha, Molly or a modern girl (smart thinking, eh). According to the comments on The Reese’s Runner’s blog, I’m in the minority here by having a Kirsten and Josefina doll. Apparently everybody else had a Molly doll but wanted Samantha or some such combination. I liked Molly’s stories, probably because I also had a mild obsession with World War II and Holocaust stories in late elementary school, but Samantha always had such pretty clothes! Really I liked Nelly more than I liked Samantha, but that’s beside the point. Yet, I didn’t like either one enough to make a commitment to one or the other, and by that I mean to pester my mom for Samantha or Molly.
Even though I’m 24 years old, I still get a little sad that I no longer get American Girl doll stuff for Christmas. It was such a big part of the holidays for me, for so long. I was the weirdo who dressed up as Santa Lucia (along with my Kirsten doll) on Santa Lucia day, and Kirsten and I wore our matching flannel nightgowns during the winter. Every time I go to Mall of America I have to stop by the American Girl Store, and ooh and ahh over the new stuff, while also slightly cringing because the quality seriously dropped once Mattel purchased Pleasant Co.
Did you have an American Girl doll? Does the essay accurately describe you and your doll? Also, fun fact: American Girl started when Pleasant Rowland found a doll in the Wisconsin Historical Society archives, and created a doll and books inspired by said doll. That doll was Samantha.