Monday, July 28th, 2014

American Girl Doll: Friend Or Foe?

Published on November 14, 2013 by   ·   No Comments Pin It
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When it comes to knowing what is best for your child, how do you proceed? When an emotionally motivated mother wishes to teach her daughter how to love herself, to encourage her in ways that will keep her from being influenced by the opinions of the outside world … where does that leave said mother?

I watch my six-year old daughter as she peers at the burn under her chin that has yet to disappear; it is school picture day. She turns her chin this way and that, and finally agrees with me: “You can’t really see it.” Then she adds, “So that’s good.”

Dina & Aster

Dina & Aster

When did she leap from a little girl who would, upon bumping into a doorway, feign tears and cry out, “I need a bam-baid” just so she could display Dora’s face on her forehead, to a young female worried that the camera will capture a recent, barely visible wound?

There was a time in my own youth, for example if I had become a mom in my 20s or 30s, when I could claim responsibility for such vanity. Not so much at 51, when three days after a shampoo I realize my hair is starting to smell “off” and I should probably consider getting my hair wet with soap! No, I do not believe I did this to her.

It is happening at school, and it comes from the “junk” we named commercials that she now likes to watch. My daughter is receiving oh so subtle messages from as seemingly benign places as the pages of an American Girl Doll catalogue. Barbie may have tits and ass, but those American Girl Dolls are, as society sees it, flawless.

What if some of the available accessories offered to American Girl Doll shoppers happened to be stick-on flaws? Like open wounds, scars, bug bites, birth marks? What if Corporate American Girl Doll devoted a page or two in their catalog to creating American Girl Doll so-called imperfections? They’ll punch a hole through a doll’s earlobes at an American Girl Doll store for pierced ears so why not provide a section devoted to accidental or birth related marks on a doll’s skin?

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Perfectly flawless white dolls

The world is filled with non-vital inventions. Why not stick on scars for your girl’s favorite doll?

There is a plethora of media out there advocating girl empowerment in ways that were not even dreamed of in my youth back in the dark ages. But the bottom line in my opinion is that these adult-like discussions about positive female self image are not trickling down fast enough. If I had the power to enforce change, there would not only be American Girl Dolls offered in wheel chairs, but there also would be available a slightly plump doll. A girl with uneven skin tone. Perhaps one with a short leg, or kinky hair. No hair! A third toe that is longer than the others. Come on, Corporate American Girl Doll–get creative!

Diversity in American Dolls

Diversity in American Dolls

Let our girls know that diversity is not only defined by one’s skin color, but by the millions of unique markings that make each human being a work of divine inspiration. Let our girls know they are perfect just the way they are.

Dina McQueen is the author of Finding Aster: Our Ethiopian Adoption Story.  She lives in multi-cultural Reston, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and cat.

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