American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

AG Complaint Department: Racial Diversity in Collections and How It Doesn't Happen

More diversity in a group of three modern dolls than in some people's collections of thirty-plus.
As I've said, I have twenty five American Girl dolls. (Or 25 dolls roughly in that generic AG size. Three are from other brands but I don't give a damn that they are.) It's not the largest collection I've seen, but it's a pretty good size.

And somehow, in those twenty-five dolls, I've managed to have a gang of girls that has more diversity than most collections I saw on boards before my unfortunate bannings. Hell, I had a diverse collection back when I only had a max of six dolls by year's end. And yet some people either can't or won't figure out a decent diversity to their collection, and it really drives me up the damn wall. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Culotte Dress (1996)

Shanna in the Culotte Dress. Who loves the 90s?

Ah, reviews. Close ups and chatter about outfits that AG has released over the years, including semi detailed close ups and all that jazz.

Let's start this with a screaming 90s flair, and bust out the the Culotte Dress, which was one of the earliest AG mod outfits--released in 1996, one year into the whole "Let's do moderns" line. Today, our model is gang member Shanna Peters. (Yes, my opening picture is the same one on the Wiki. I'm the one who took it, so I shall use it on my blog. All the other pictures aren't free for use, so no you can't post them anywhere.)

The outfit consists of a red one-piece culotte style dress, a yellow crochet hat with a floral pin, and clear jellied sandals; at the time the retail cost was $22. Current secondary market prices run from 10-30 bucks; I paid $13 including shipping.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Creating Original Historicals for Fun and Frivolity: Time Periods

Charlotte Tinsley, my 1840s Republic of Texas Doll
If there is one thing AG started out good with, it was Historical Characters. However, I really can't say that's true now, what with the retirement of Samantha (eh), Kirsten (boo) and Felicity (WHYYYYYY~) and some half assing of newer dolls (looking dead at you, illustrations for Cécile and Marie Grace).

However, there is more to making an unique Realistic Historical Character than slapping Felicity's dresses on a modern doll and calling her a pilgrim or putting a star of David on your white doll and sticking her in the 1940s. (Yes I actually saw some of that shit on my tenure as an AG message board member). If you want your character to stand out from the crowd, you are going to need to do a lot more work than that.

Let's start with the easiest and hardest part of any Historical: The Time Period.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

FAQ and Info or: Read this Shit So I Don't Have Issues.

Mellie and Kanani welcome you to the FAQ. Now read it.

--What's this about?

The inane, semi-useful American Girl babblings of a nerdy woman who doesn't quite know what to do with her life, but does have a lot of dolls and clothes to take pictures of, a lot of crafting and care tips, a bitchy attitude, and a lot of AG opinions.

--Who are you?

Nethilia. Neth for short. I'm  damn near forty and live close enough to AG Seattle to buy stuff there when it comes out. I'm also black, pagan, and queer. More details can be found on my private blogs. I tend to make a lot of nerd, musical, fandom, childhood, 80/90/2000s refs, and pop culture humor, since I'm a nerd and I like several aspects of pop culture and media/fandom as handled personally.

--How did you get into AG?

Technically, I learned of AG out of the back of a Doll Reader Catalog when I was about eight or so, and had a thing for Kirsten because I like pioneering. (Blame the Oregon Trail and Pioneer days at my elementary school.) But the hook happened when I was thirteen, way back in 1993, and Addy Walker was released and I fell HARD for the girl. It took until 2005 to finally get her, though. I have her whole collection, through one means or another, minus one outfit I'm not chuffed about and a goddamn slide whistle and I got the whistle~!

I was in the fandom for the first time actively on message boards from Jan 2006 to December 2007, but was kicked from the two major boards, AG Fans and AG Playthings, in 2006 and 2007/2008 respectively. I show no love to either board and will be flat out honest about their problematic issues, because the AG fandom got a lot of rich white Christian lady issues and I have never been rich, white, or a lady. (I was Christian. I gave it up.)

I am the co-founder of AG Collectors, a message board that is not afraid to address and talk issues in fandom and squeal at the same time. I am also a major mod at AG > 18, which unfortunately has sort of tapered off/gone defunct with the wandering away of fandoms from Livejournal. 

--Why "American Girl Outsider"?

At the time of starting this blog, I was an outsider from American girl collecting fandom, and not part of any large AG community. I had been banned from two boards for rather bigoted and exclusionary reasons, and the community I had started, AG > 18, had mostly fallen silent. Even now with American Girl Collectors, I still consider an outsider from the dominantly straight, Christian, white, and upper class image of American Girl Collectors.

I talk about the many hateful, hurtful, and bigoted things that I dealt with in the American Girl Fandom in the series  "Why I'm An Outsider" and will eventually finish the story; it's a hard look at the shit I dealt with from about early 2006 until 2009-2010 thereabouts. I don't pull punches or play nice. As the quote goes,

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -- Anne Lamott
--How many dolls do you have?

Hrair. (That's Watership Down Lapine language for "countless".) Oh, AG sized? Over 40.

--What's #AGDoCGoty?

A social media campaign and protest to push for American Girl (AG) to release Dolls of Color (DoC) for Girl of the Year (GotY). More information can be found here: #‎AGDoCGotY‬: Because Representation in AG Lines Matter

--What's your real job?

Sitting on my butt writing books/short stories and hoping people will pay me to read them once I get them up on CreateSpace, along with occasional crafting/pattern designing for money on etsy. I used to work for Nintendo in the Consumer Service department, but they laid me off in 2012 after department cutbacks so now I self publish my writings and/or sell things on Etsy.

Anything beyond that ain't your damn business.

--What's your faith?

Short version: Pagan.

Long version: Eclectic syncretic pagan, who follows Grey-Eyed Athene and Mama Yemaya primarily but also find personal faith in following Hermes, Bast, Eris, Aphrodite, Persephone, Oshun, Oya, and Isis. I integrate Greek, Egyptian, and Yoruban/African Traditional beliefs into my faith. I'm not Wiccan, and magic is not spelled with a K or a J by me. I can read tarot cards, I do spells and candle magic, and astrology is a huge open part of my faith so yes, I believe in star charts and the effects of the planets. 

I explore and study Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism as a personal study, but have decided that Abrahamic faiths are not what I can openly and personally believe in, though I respect anyone who wields faith--or a lack thereof--as long as it's not used as a weapon against me.

--Let me tell you about the love of Jesus and--

Let me stop you right there. I grew up Church of Christ loosely, went hard Christian from ages 12-16 even as I kept wanting to follow paganism, got questioning in high school, and voluntarily left the church in my 20s in college after self searching. I know about Jesus and Christianity. I will not be converting back.

--Let me tell you about how your childish belief in a sky-daddy or mommy is a sign of weakness and stupidity--

Fuck your pompous attitude. Take your misappropriated fedora and jorts back to reddit or wherever.

--What else do you collect/enjoy?

A short and wholly incomplete list: My Little Pony, Pokemon, Monster High/Ever After High (has tapered),  Disney (especially princesses and Princess and the Frog), other dolls, video games, books, comics, drawing and art, and crafting supplies off the chart.

--My Little Pony? Are you a brony/pegasister?

Short story: NO. Not even a little bit.

Long story: I refuse to associate with a bunch of icky horrible fratboys in my pony fandom. Bronies are horrible people who engage in bigotry, want to be special snowflakes while being twisted messes, and then vomit up "love and tolerate" like it solves everything. I haven't seen a worst fandom in my life--and I've been to a furry convention. Bronies are full of the bad ones. And if you don't call them out on their mess? You're not one of the good ones. Congrats, you watch a show about pastel ponies and ID as male. No cookies. I've been into ponies since the 80s, and I own ponies from all gens but Gen 2 ponies. Bronies are plight on my fandom that I wish would get out. Maybe Princess Twilight Sparkle will drive off a lot of em. Maybe we can get an overtly girly Gen 5.

Now if you're just a pony fan, we're chill. But fix the brony situation. 

--Where did you learn so much history about clothing/fashion/race/society/etc?

Online education via Google/websites, Tumblr, text books, research, being a black queer woman, and exploring history myself. There's more to history than what school and the AG books teach you.

--Can you help me write a paper / do a video / freelance an article / explain in depth about American Girl and/or representation/race/gender/bigotry/etc.?

Ask yourself two questions:

A) Are you my friend, such that I don't mind having these conversations with you or helping you out out of the goodness of my heart? Answer carefully.

B) If I'm not, are you willing to pay me for the time and effort I would put into this for $20 an hour minimally?

If the answer to both is no, then my answer is no. I don't teach/do homework/do painful education for strangers for free. Nethie is a call girl: fuck you, pay me.

--Where did you find X?

I buy and bought a lot of my AG collection either direct from AG (either the Seattle store since 2011, some off the site, secondhand auctions) or, if retired, eBay and the like. Here and there there have been private sales and purchases.

--Can you sell me X from your collection/Can I buy X off of you? 

Fuck you. It's rude as shit to ask me to buy anything out of my collection unless I expressly say that it's up for sale--and that's almost never, thank the entire fuck out of you. I hunted down bargains, sales, eBay auctions, and what have you to get the collection that I have. You can do the same thing I did. Don't ask for my shit. 

--You curse. That's bad. What if children read your blog?

What are you, twelve? (If you are, get off my blog. COPPA like a mofo). But seriously? Bugger off. Welcome to the internet. People cuss. I cuss like a motherfucker. I'm grown as fuck, and I don't give a damn if you don't like my filthy fucking language.This blog isn't written for a child audience, regardless of me being a doll collector. It's written for adult collectors, and if the language or anything else bothers you as an adult you know how to leave a blog.

--Felicity and Elizabeth/Melody and Edith/Gabriela and Tina/anyone else/you being gay is wrong!

Thanks for the hate. I'm queer. (Bi-leaning lesbian, with a husband I tend to call the Bae around here.) I ship Fel/Beth of canon characters (and some others) and my dolls have cutiegirl crushes and some are genderqueer. If you don't like it you can flitter off to the other AG boards or blogs or somewhere else where they don't let you curse or your dolls get frisky with each other.

--You're racist against white people/bigoted against straights/mean to men/cruel to cisgendered people/hurting my feelings. We should all get along. MLK/Rosa Parks/(Name Dropped Here) wouldn't want this. You're a Social Justice Warrior. And how can I learn without you teaching me?

There is not enough space for me to lay out all the shit wrong with this. Suffice me to say that you are wrong, and bigotry is prejudice + power, and I am pretty low on that kyriarchy scale. I don't like teaching strangers and I don't teach softly and I might just bite your head off if you test me. And I'm not any kind of warrior. Beyond that being the new way to say "you're a jerk and stop making me think about my privilege," I have a Strength stat of 6 and a Dex of 5-6 depending on the day. I have Charisma of about 16, though, and Int 17. So I'm a Social Justice Bard. Or squishy wizard. 

--You deleted my comment.

It was probably inane, offensive, or otherwise not worth the time it took to read. Try again and don't fuck it up, unless I've told you to piss off, in which case piss off. Or you were under thirteen and I don't talk to people not old enough to be on the internet alone.

--But My Free Speech...

This is not a Free Speech Zone. It's a Safe For Me Zone. I don't walk in your living room and throw shoes at your TV, don't walk in mine online and do the same. Don't come in my living room, piss on my floor, and expect me to accept it as a swimming pool. I don't go to your home and slap the stupid out of your mouth.

And if you feel like there's people out there that don't care about your opinion, please add my name to that list. 

--Someone's talking about you did you know that?

That echoing sound you hear after telling me this is me not giving a single solitary fuck. 

--You're MEAN. I don't want to read your blog.  

Yep I am, and you won't be missed. Don't linger. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Intros are really weird things to have to do.

Don't like Dolls of Color or cursing? You came to the wrong neighborhood.
Behold. It's AG Outsider.

Why? Because what the web needs is an American Girl focused blog that isn't just mostly angled pictures of Classic Mold Dolls taken by 13 year old girls. Don't get me wrong. 13 year old girls need web in their life, and a good amount of them have dolls. But so do grown ass AG collectors like yours truly.

I'm a in-my-thirties AG collector who remembers the days of the Historical Centerfolds and mail orders only, the first twenty American Girls of Today, and the release of Addy Walker (who is the best Historical ever). Due to poverty I didn't get Addy until I was 25 from my MIL and now I'm up to twenty five gang members in the AGGiB--including a few that, while not technically AG, are part of the grand number.

Also, I'm the admin and founder of the AG Wiki, which is exactly what it says on the tin--a wiki about American Girl and all its products, characters, and stuffness. So I might know what I'm talking about here and there.

This blog will have such things as:
  • IDing random parts of outfits: Because there's like five pairs of pink ballet slippers out there. 
  • Reviews of outfits that consist of more than "I like it!" "It's cute!" and "So precious!"
  • Outfits I craft, because there's nothing like sewing shit up and taking pictures of it, and I sew up a lot of shit.
  • History Shit: Fact, Details, snippets out of books, and details on making your own Historicals for Fun and Factiveness.
  • Book reviews. Because I own nearly Every AG book ever published. Including the History Mysteries. 
  • Complaint Department:  Complaining about things I can't stand or don't like, including why my fandom circle is as small as it is and why the fandom needs a come to Athene moment.
  • Gang Member Interviews: My girls are not a family, a group, or a pile. They are a gang. An American Girl Gang. In my residence. So there. 
  • And other stuff.  
I will also have Casual Fridays, consisting of other lines of dolls including BJD (Yes, Asian Ball Jointed Dolls) and My Little Pony, and other off topic crap.  Not too much though. I have a personal blog for that at Dreamwidth (DeeDubya)/LiveJournal (Eljay), and a Tumblr for totally inane bullshit and political fussery.

FAQ to follow as needed. For now, consider this a post, and the posts after that to be relevant to this whole deal.