When I was growing up, I owned a Kirsten doll and her accompanying stories about the trials the Swedish immigrant girl faced living on a farm after many of her friends died during the voyage to America. She made me actually care about tensions between Native Americans and settlers through her friendship with Singing Bird (a feat I can’t say that history class ever accomplished). My sister owned a Samantha doll, and we both read the series for most of the American Girls that addressed issues was wide ranging as living in the American Revolution (Felicity), and learning through her friends about poverty and class struggle while living in an affluent childhood (Samantha). While the dolls and all of their matching outfits were a fun complement to the novels, the books were the real stars, taking me through different historical periods, and embedding life lessons into the back stories that went along with my toys. Sadly, American Girl has decided to “archive” the classic dolls in favor of a new line.
Anndddd the new line comes with new story lines. The fresh “Girl of the Year,” and “My American Girl” dolls are designed to be more relatable to modern children. They are modeled after their images and the characters, living in present day, face challenges like not making the gymnastics team rather than navigating the complex social landscape of cross-class friendships during the industrial period. Additionally, the brand has cut back from the previous 6 books for each character to a measly 2, suggesting that these American girls? Well, they just don’t read as much. While it’s always sad to see a classic toy from your childhood retired, I’m not the only one who was saddened by the changes in the brand. Check out the opinions on The Daily Beast, NY Mag The Cut, and The Atlantic.
What do you think about the changes America Girl is making?