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March 27, 2007

Un-American Girl

American_doll My daughter's birthday is coming up, and at our prompting, she has come up with a list of gift suggestions that her parents and grandparents can choose from.  They range from great idea (new bike/ a day at Disneyland) to okay (Littlest Pet Shop Little Lovin Playhouse/ Polly Pocket Tropicool Pool Playset) to honey, I know it's cute but where would we put it? (Littlest Pet Shop Biggest Little Petshopt).  And then there's the American Girl doll.  For me, for now, that falls into the category of "Uh, sorry, that's too much money".

Don't get me wrong.  I love the concept of American Girl dolls.  They're wholesome, spirited, value-oriented characters, not little prostitots like the Bratz dolls.   They encourage reading and imaginative play.   

But why oh why do they have to be so expensive?  $87 for an 18-inch doll and a paperback book?  $60 for her horse?  $10 for extra doll shoes?  $20 for an extra doll dress?  That's how much a girl's dress and shoes would cost at Target.  But not at AG, oh no, for the matching girl-sized dress you would pay $50.  It seems a bit funny calling these dolls American Girl when most American girls can't afford to buy them.

Thank goodness we don't live in LA, Chicago or Manhattan, because then there would be the temptation to visit the Disneyland of American Girlyness, the American Girl Place.  Have a hairstylist curl your doll's hair for $20!  Have your photo taken with your doll at our studio for $25!  Have afternoon tea with your doll for $18!  And don't forget to stop by our megastore on your way out!   But oh, if your little girl dares show up with a knockoff doll, the hairstylist at our doll salon might refuse to style the doll's hair. To me, it all smacks of Material Girl more than American Girl.   

So I'm crossing off "American Girl doll" from my daughter's birthday present list this year.  Hey, I'm not an ogre; I'm not saying never.  But I'm putting my foot down.  She's got to be at least 7 or 8.  She has to read the books and get to know the characters so she knows which American Girl she really wants.  Maybe she can sell lemonade or save up her birthday money to help pay for the doll.    If she wants lots of dresses or accessories or friends for her doll, we can look for those at Michael's or Target.  If she'd be happy with an 18-inch Our Generation doll from Target, even better.  If she truly wants a genuine American Girl doll and if we're can afford it then fine, but let's try to bring home some good old American values with it.

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