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

Friday, April 26, 2013

AG Complaint Department: Sorry, Nostalgia Kiddos, But AG Was Never "Radical"

Wait, people think American Girl was radical back in the day? Surely you jest, Uncle Gard!
So there's been this article that's been at the edge of my AG sphere for a few days: American Girls Aren't Radical Anymore. To sum up the article snarkily: American Girl started out as SUPER RADICAL FIGHT THE POWER CHANGE THE WORLD with their stories and historical characters. But then Mattel stepped in and watered them down into 18 inch Just Like You clones, mini-Barbies and wimp girls of the year who at most stand up for the environment or art or gymnastics or whatever the hotness for the year is while kicking the Historicals out the door like so much past flippery-dip, and they have the catalogs to prove it. This article is circling around places such as Tumblr and creating that lovely flood of nostalgia that is likely prompting teenage and twenty-something year old girls all around to dig Molly and Samantha out of dusty closets and brush them up and read their books again while making snuggle cuddles.

That's nice. But now is the part of the evening where I sit you down, unsheathe the truth claws, and pop everyone's nostalgia bubble.

AG was never, ever, ever as radical or pushing against society as this article (and some follow up articles) seem to want to make them out to be. The Historicals are dolls with some educational flavor in the books. While several series did brush over some "sensitive" topics, they never go that deep, push back that much, and they don't hit as hard as nostalgia goggles let people think they do. The topics are watered down and glossed over for the palate of the average middle to upper class girl, and not much past that. I should know--I've read the books many times.1

Normally I don't do posts back to back, but this wailing and gnashing of teeth over AG is getting on my last damn nerve. Get behind the cut for the realness.

Let's start with the chunk that the article--and many people--stay really gung-ho on: Samantha and her brush with the lower class. The article states the following:
In the book A Lesson for Samantha, [Samantha] wins an essay contest at her elite academy with a pro-manufacturing message, but after conversations with Nellie, her best friend from a destitute background who has younger siblings working in brutal factory jobs, Samantha reverses course and ends us giving a speech against child labor in factories at the award ceremony. Given the class divide, Samantha's speech presumably takes place in front of the very industrial barons responsible for those factory conditions. The book is a bravura effort at teaching young girls about class privilege, speaking truth to power, and engaging with controversial social policy, all based on empathetic encounters with people whose life experiences differ from her own.
This is only a thin sliver of the story. Yes, Samantha does learn that Nellie has had a very hard working life as a servant in the lower class--as a maid and a servant. She has even suffered working in a thread factory--her, not her sisters--and tells the details to Samantha. But only after Samantha proudly gives that pro-factory speech to Nellie, who flat out calls her on that directly. And in the movie, Samantha even directly sees the horror of someone getting mangled while working in a factory, for double the impact.

Nellie: Initially here for a message about class. But not too much of it. Can't scare the kids.
But Samantha doesn't give her speech in front of any industrial barons or factory owners; she gives it in front of the Mount Bedford Ladies Club who is sponsoring the contest. At best they are the factory owner's wives and living the high life from the profits. The only impact given is that the other women are struck silent, while Samantha's grandmother Grandmary seems touched by Samantha's conviction to speak out. Oh, and Samantha wins first place because she's the main character. There is no follow up to this message of class, or any further messages on the class divide and the suffering of the poor or factory workers during the Edwardian/Turn of the Century America.2

That's enough about factory conditions, Nellie O'Malley. We have doll dresses to sell.

In fact, it seems that the first two books were too impactful and full of message. After the first two books by Susan S. Adler, the writer was changed to Maxine Rose Schur for Samantha's Surprise and the book never touches class at all, instead shuffling Nellie and her well discussed issues way to the side for the riveting story of Samantha vs. Cornelia. Finally, the last three books are written by Valerie Tripp; the series kicks Nellie out of the picture altogether and replaces her with the Pitt twins until Changes for Samantha. Then it seems like the series remembers Nellie long enough to make her life suck seven levels of bad right before Samantha breaks them out of the orphanage, sneaks them into her uncle's house, and Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia adopt Nellie and her sisters--and everyone gets a happy warm family ending.

Quick girls, come with me to a better life!
The books and Samantha takes on the issue of child labor and classism in exactly one book--two if you count the misery conga the O'Malley girls get through 3/4ths of Changes and three if you count the Meet book where Nellie lays out the suck of her past. Samantha changes topics for her paper only because of the one girl she knows, who informs her that life sucks for the lower class so the upper class can have cheap nice things. It makes Samantha completely uncomfortable and alerts to her privilege in a way she'd never thought about--and not much after that. Right after that book, the series is shifted to be more about the well-to do and their good lives. Sam's Central Series ends with Nellie and her sisters getting lifted up to the better richer life--the exact opposite of what the article claims. Even Nellie's unique book, Nellie's Promise, only touched on class issues long enough to make Samantha (and some of Nellie's classmates and her new relatives) uncomfortable and cause conflict between Sam and Nellie before it's all worked out and the nasty uncle is sent away forever and everything is beautiful. And Nellie's sisters Bridget and Jenny don't even really twitch at the oddities of their new class station beyond some toss-away lines about crying about their dead parents. Because clearly years of poverty and your parents dying and leaving you as orphans in 1906 leaves no trauma wounds at all.

Quit complaining about classism, Nellie, you live with rich white people now.
Samantha's books do not--and I quote--"[take] on the entire practice of child labor (as opposed to just rescuing her one friend from factory exploitation)." Fuck me sideways, but it does exactly that. Samantha learns about the lower class and their struggles by putting a face to them with Nellie. And it does so just long enough to get Samantha to convince her family to stretch the privilege umbrella over Nellie and her sisters, and then Samantha never wants to discuss that shit again if she can help it. I will only briefly mention the black seamstress, Jesse, who quits her job because she had a baby and Samantha gets a small look into the fact that the black people have to live in a even crappier part of town. That rant is for another post, when I'm not taking on a badly written article.

Then there's the bit on Addy. First of all, it's Addy, not "Addie." Come on. You could have Googled that shit, writers. It corrects itself in a search. How impactful was she if you can't remember how to spell her nickname? Ugh. As for her impact: Yes, the image of being forced to eat bugs is a chilling one. But for me, who knew about slavery from the time I was younger than Addy thanks to many books about my family and cultural history, wasn't startled into knowing that people kept slaves at the tender age of eight or nine. The part about her eating bugs squicked me out, yes. But the part about her brother and father being sold? It didn't hit so hard because--well, I already knew that happened. All the time. Slave owners sold people left and right and didn't care about family bonds. Some sells were specifically to break a family's spirit. Slave owners also beat and raped and abused their slaves in many ways. They didn't care about the people behind them. And at the end--don't get me wrong, Addy is my girl--Addy has only lost two members of her family permanently because Uncle Solomon and Aunt Lula die. She gets her dad, brother (sans one arm) and her baby sister all back. Addy's books discuss slavery the same way schools tend to--it was a nasty period where white people owned black people, but we're all past that now since we got better and Lincoln freed everyone, and then stuff was kind of rotten until the 50s and 60s and MLK had a dream so racism is over hooray, everything is better! Yes, that thump sound was my eyes rolling out of my head. The AG books mute the impact of slavery so that it doesn't scare the middle class white youth too much from getting Addy themselves. Plus she gets to the north and makes friends and her parents get jobs and almost everyone comes back so huzzah!

Everyone's back together--well, Auntie Lula dies later, but everyone else is still together.

Furthermore, Addy--while keeping the same writer through the series--has her illustrations drastically changed. The first three books were done by Melodye Rosales, who varied the skin colors and looks of the characters--for example making Addy medium skinned, Harriet high yellow3, Miss Dunn light, and Sarah towards the darker scale of color. But her pictures were too much for AG and too scary; they booted her and gave the last three books to Bradford Brown--who noticeably darkened Harriet up for Addy Saves the Day and did very bland, almost non emotional scenes that didn't hit too hard. Later, they brought in Dahl Taylor, who both standardized the looks of the books, cut the emotional impact down of many of the original scenes, and evened out the black people to a small range of browns--thus to get that nasty colorism out of the way and put that to rest. How very "radical" of you AG, to limit the skin tones of the black people shown to the colors that kept things nice and neat, and smush out the emotional impact. Here, have some examples from Addy's books:

Melodye Rosales on the left, Dahl Taylor on the right.
From Addy Learns a Lesson. Note that Addy's classmates have been evened out. Harriet and Addy are given the same skin tone, and Harriet is made to look less pale and with more African features.

Melodye Rosales on the left, Dahl Taylor on the right.
Also from Addy Learns a Lesson. Miss Dunn and Harriet both are no longer as light skinned as before, and the girl in the front row has been made darker. (The other girl has been turned into a boy.)

Melodye Rosales on the left, Dahl Taylor on the right.
This is the one that kicks me right in the face with how the illustrations were made so...bland. Originally, Mrs. Howell was shown to be a light skinned black woman with Isabella a pale skinned daughter like herself, fussing and clearly furious at the "poor" quality of a dress that her daughter has actually plumped herself right out of. Meanwhile Mama tries to hold back her fury, lips tight and angry at being called such a poor seamstress. The Taylor illustration takes away all that emotion and makes it more like Ruth has gone mute, while Mrs. Howell seems at most, casually displeased--and Isabella's barely round face does not look like she could go pink like the book says. The emotional impact of Addy's books was drastically, disgustingly cut back to soften the blows that the illustrations initially gave. In Rosales's illustrations of Meet Addy, Mama looks like she's seconds from drowning in the river and Addy looks utterly terrified; in Dahl's she looks startled at best, and Addy's look is more of a "just this side of surprised."

To skim the other two characters brought up: No, Kirsten doesn't care about Native American persecution. She cares about Singing Bird as a way to get away from her life because things are hard for her. There is a mention in Kirsten Learns a Lesson where she and her cousins bring up that the Sioux people are struggling to hunt because settlers are taking their land--and Lisbeth dismisses it as her papa saying the settlers need the land too and then brushing off the topic. But mostly, Kirsten thinks about the Native people as an escape from a life she doesn't like. She hates having to learn English and fantasizes about running off with Singing Bird and not having to work at things anymore. After Singing Bird and her people leave for the winter, Kirsten just sticks to it and likes school. And the story is not resolved in Kirsten on the Trail. The plot of that short story is that Kirsten's brother gets lost in the woods, Singing Bird helps Kirsten track him down, and Kirsten's mom is grateful and thus a little less of a bitch to Singing Bird and offers her bread. Woop-de-fucking-do. Felicity does buck a few traditional domestic roles for women and act like a tomboy--and at the same time, is shown to settle down and mature over the course of the series. She does dancing, and stitching, and all the stuff she doesn't care for. She never so much likes domestic work or being a lady, but she does it anyways. Because it's the goddamn 1770s and it's not like she was going to ride into Washington's army on the back of Penny and battle for America. She rebels within her circle, and once Penny is hers she minds her own. I mean--come the fuck on, her grandfather owned a plantation and slaves. Felicity's family owned slaves. That's not very buck the system.

Ah, but then the heart of the whining in almost every article and by every person who has a geek-on for the historicals: the complaints about the moddies, which claims every single time that AG now encourages making little clones of daughters and dressing them up like the dolly. Listen up good: I'm going to smother the next news article that claims that My AG dolls are customizable. They are not. They have never been. They have had 58 variant dolls that cover a span of looks--mostly white--and that's it. What writers are thinking of are the creepy My Twinn Dolls. The modern My American Girl (which have been called American Girl (of) Today from 1995 launch to 1998, American Girl Today from 1998 to 2006, and Just Like You from 2006 to 2010) are not customizable from AG. Nothing beyond ear piercing, glasses, and the recent add ons of converting to a bald doll and applying pink hearing aids. AG don't do eye swaps, they don't do every hair style or color combination, they don't freckle black girls--or most girls--they don't have a lot of face molds in circulation, and they don't repair or fix dolls that are highly customized. "Choose from this bank of pre-made things" is not customization. Get back to folk when we can choose face mold, skin tone, eye color, and wig style and color from get-go. Yes, I did happen to luck up and one of my gang members looks a shitload like me as a kid, Mellie. But in the sense that she's brown skinned with brown eyes and dark curly hair and a heart-shaped face. And that took until I was grown. So if everyone who writes news articles about AG could get off that jock of claiming little girls are going into an AG store and buying mini-me dolls, we can all get along smoothly.

As for the GotYs, I got beef with them--but not with some of the messages they go for. They have a year to get a single message out. The fact they can get two books for the character is not something I'm going to fuss too much about, and the messages they've done have been about as deep as the central series--that is, not at all. So far--since Nicki--we've gotten messages about service animals, ice skating and performing your own way, bullying (probably the deepest one), the environment and getting outdoors, the environment in Hawaii, gymnastics and reading books a lot, and how we shouldn't be cutting the fucking arts and music programs in schools because No Child Behind blows chunks and school shouldn't be about teaching to the goddamn tests. They're handled with the same grace and smoothness as the AG central series--that is, enough to make a message, and then on to the next Girl of the Year and the message du jour.

Finally, the catalogs. Yes, they cut most of the details down to almost nothing. I miss my AG centerfolds as much as the next person. But let's be honest, humanity. People, we as society don't really do catalogs anymore. Sears doesn't--and boy do I remember their holiday toy section, I could pour over that shit for hours. In 1986. Now they don't do that. Back in the early days of AG before they got a website for buying things on, the catalog was king. They had to show all the stuff they had available--because it was the only way to know the stuff they had for you to get. With the rise of the internet, there is no need to list everything out in a catalog--they waste trees and paper and don't show you stuff that isn't already on the site. Like most companies, AG throw it all up on the website, and sends the catalog when people request it. AG does a big holiday catalog generally, but really the catalog is around now for alerting people to the website and for the youth to look at some. Generally it sticks to the newest products and alerts you to get on the web and order the clean and efficient way. Wave of the future!

As much as we miss these catalogs, we can get the news about new stuff online much faster.
I'm not saying that retiring Lissie the Lesbian, Princess Samantha, and the Kirstenster wasn't an annoying move by Mattel AG. It was. But don't go around thinking that they were pushing the envelope or Mattel went in and cut the brand down to some sort of bland modern line because they wanted to wreck your childhood. Pleasant Company was no better at the stories. At the end of the day, Pleasant Company didn't care if the stories made little girls think about classism, racism, sexism, or Native American oppression for a second or two. They wanted the stories and characters to catch a girl's mind long enough to sell the dolls and their world. They were just as guilty of dusting the pretty over with ruffles, bows, and easy to bite stories that made you feel good at the end--with just enough history to make you want to buy Samantha, fluff her up in her tea dress, and brush her curls with the wig brush.


1 And will be referencing them this entire post. I own every single mainline AG book there is, and several of the side ones. I shit you not. I have a whole shelf of AG books and that won't hold em all.
2 Samantha was not Victorian. I refuse to go with that. She is Edwardian, or more accurately turn-of-the-century American progress.
3 High Yellow, or light skinned but not quite to the point of whiteness. 


  1. All I really have to say about this post is goddamn I loved the AG catalog. I loved catalogs in general as a kid --me and my sister would cut pictures out and use them as toys for our barbies-- but the AG catalog was especially great to look at.


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Well, I will admit that the historical dolls are heavier than the modern dolls, even for today's standard.

    Most subjects in a child's eyes are "lightly brushed over". Samantha in giving a speech to a women's club is most realistic than her finding some random form of transportation, headed to the city, just to give a speech to several factory owners, who probably won't listen to her anyway, and as a kid, she probably would just give up and go home. At age 10, subjects aren't taken as seriously as adults would take them. For Kirsten, showing intense sympathy for "Indians" when you weren't taught much about them would be unrealistic for a 9 year old.

    All the 9 and 10 year olds in my class barely care about the Native Americans now beyond the fact that they get to dress up like them for Thanksgiving plays. Some know about Native Americans, but "lightly brush off the issue" for more social ones...Even the Native American children.

    For kids, the historical girls dealt with some pretty tremendous things, and handled in powerful ways FOR THEIR AGE.

    I feel the modern girls were clever in their problem-solving skills too. The only difference is their stories don't often hit on heavy subjects, and this is because modern kids don't deal with the same heaviness that kids of old had to deal with. However, some things should be addressed. No divorced parents? No adopted children? Single parents? That's more common today than in the past, and yet historical characters have touched on issues like child labor, war, poverty, economy, slavery, racism, disease, and other things, if even on a lighter scale, or rather a "child-like" scale.

    Even my 10 year olds lightly brush off the issues of the "economy". All they understand is "It means Mommy can't afford that ipad you wanted." The black students don't care about racism, and don't realize yet how it effects them. They only understand something if it influences their little world, and their solutions to the problem are usually handled with the help of an adult, or on a small scale, through some school or community program. American Girl historicals were as realistic to 9 year olds in the past as fiction could be.

  4. My American Girl was simply designed to relate and appeal. I get the same feeling from My American Girl that I get from the Magic Attic Club, only Magic Attic Club was much cheaper back in the day.

    1. I'm not replying to anything more you say and you are no longer allowed to comment on my posts. Yes, I may be a stubborn shit, but I'm a stubborn shit who doesn't want to see your comments anymore, and I'm really not in the mood to say why. Don't comment again, and if you do I will just be delete your comments. I don't have time for you any more.

    2. Not to butt in and I don't want to give attention to a troll/troll incident, but out of morbid curiosity I went to this person's blog and OMG. Anyone else that's morbidly curious, please be advised that there is serious anti-Black shit on there and MAJOR trigger warning! I say "anti-Black" rather than racist because this person claims to be Black but even on the off chance that's true, that doesn't make that shit any less toxic. Man, I'm Native and I found it triggering (I've known at least one "You can get off the rez if you just stop oppressing yourself!" asshole) I can only imagine what it would be like for a Black person to find. Ugh.
      Go Ms Nethilia for not tolerating trolls! I'm one of those fools that tries to reason with them and I always am reminded that the tone argument is bullshit.

  5. As far as Addy, none of the 9 to 10 year olds knew that black people were sold off of their plantations and harshly beaten until they read Addy's stories, and this is a majority black school with all black staff and administration. We taught this to them, but they didn't seem to get the point.

    While as adults we may not find Addy's stories surprising, a child just coming into the world would. Children usually learn about the deeper parts of history by age 12. As much as their young minds can comprehend before they brush it off to go play on ipads and smart phones.

    1. Not to butt in, but I thought Ms. Nethilia told you not to comment on her blog, as you can clearly read up above.

  6. Maybe as an adult the dolls don't seem radical, but to a child they are. When I was little, I had Samantha, and I remember the time that I read Samantha Learns a Lesson and Nellie talked about the girl who got her hair caught in a factory machine, starting bleeding from her scalp, and almost died. That really hit me hard because as a little kid I had no idea kids ever had to work in factories. I didn't own Addy but I read her stories and I was also shocked by how horribly she was treated as a slave. The Historical Dolls and their stories were important for teaching kids (the demographic that Pleasant Company was appealing to, which you seem to have forgotten) about the past and issues that happened in the past. By an adult's standards these books are not very radical, but for me, as a child, my friends and I certainly thought so and they inspired us to take a better look at life in America before we were born.

    1. As a child? I didn't find them highly radical stories. I found them a jumping point to research deeper into other topics. I read a lot of other books that covered slavery and the turn of the century and the such before I ever touched AG in depth--and that was before I had access to the internet like today's children do. The topics shown by AG might start a discussion, but they are not the entire total. Samantha got too radical to the point that they changed topics wholly. The stories are still made for a middle class mentality that doesn't want to be too controversial with topics lest the other products not sell. (This is especially seen with Julie, who barely skims and still managed to offend many conservative Christians by having divorced parents and environmental messages.) The main issue with the original article is that it was claiming that the modern characters aren't good enough like the historicals were for topic discussions.

      Pleasant Company was just as eager to convince the target demographic to buy shiny trinkets and bobbles as much as Mattel is. Toy companies are out to make money as much as anyone else. I haven't forgotten the target demographic--and I haven't forgotten that the target demographic isn't generally flipping out that American Girl is retiring characters and not doing massive catalogs, as the articles that are written for the adults lament.

    2. At the end of the day, they do want money. But so does any historical author, even the ones that write the history books. Anybody qho is getting paid to write literature or create a product will gloss up what they want.

      However, I do believe American Girl historicals give the point. They can't possibly review every case in history, as there are thousands of cases, some never even mentioned online or in books. But they have to give the general picture, or the usual case, because history is more effectively memorized that way.

      To add, history isn't just about issues. Child labor is a part of Samantha's life, but she's rich. There's her wealthy culture to address, the education she received, the language spoken at the time, which had unfamiliar words like "Jiminy", the clothes they wore, and then focusing also on the inventions and the influence of the Industrial Revolution, and then the clash between the old Victorian Era's ways, and the modern era, which Victorian America lasted long after Queen Victoria died because people were accustomed to the customs of the era. There were many things they had to address historically, and child labor issues were one of many things they had to address. But they couldn't go explaining every intense issue that happened through child labor. That's like all of us going into detail about 9/11 all the time, every day, or reviewing every single 9/11 case. But majority of us weren't personally hurt by it unless you lived in New York in the area where it happened. And most people get the picture without the gory details, especially children, who may not understand all the intricate details of 9/11. But on a day to day, who thinks about it? But ipads, ipods, iphones, laptops, video games, the clothes we wear, the celebrity culture we live are also a part of history, and influence children more than issues like gay rights, abortion issues, racism, etc because as far as being gay, children under the age of 11 aren't really interested in kissing or hugging, let alone any sexuality yet. To add, abortion, how does that influence a child who is alive and isn't really thinking about having children? Racism is experienced mostly in the schools, and given in media, but children don't recognize it at the occupation level to the highest degree, and have to be given the general gist of racism in order to think that far in advance later, which is left for other intermediate books to tell.

      I have to applaud you. You were probably an intelligent child. But even with technology, online allows you to research what you WANT to research, and for most kids, that's not history. So I'd say these children are even worse when it comes to history than children back in the day.

      If not radical stories, radical topics. But everything has to have a jumping point. Children can't consume information all at once and without a starting point. Without knowing the basics, or the general point, the whole subject is lost among all the details. They will look at all of them as seperate cases, rather than details of the same topic.

    3. Why you still comment? You've been told not to comment!

  7. Doesn't the whole Atlantic article read kinda like someone accidentally got hold of a recent AG catalog (perhaps via their niece/younger cousin/etc) and then made a wandering blog post that basically amounts to "Omg, American Girls. Wow, that takes me back. They were awesome, remember? Man, they totally suck now."
    Lazy shit like name misspellings (as you point out) and product timeline inaccuracies show a lack of even cursory research. If you're going to make as bold a statement as that is ("The company was once radical. It isn't any more."), you can at least do a modicum of research online, goddamn. And the clear ax to grind for nostalgia is ridiculous: they're actually going to compare the catalogs of now, in the age of the internet and the retail stores, to the catalog of old when that was the only way they were sold? Shit, the fact they still even make print catalogs is saying something.
    TL;DR: I agree with your points and I have to say as a struggling writer, it pisses me off that someone (probably) got paid to write such a lazy-ass piece of "journalism". Sigh.

  8. Okay.... I agree these books were not radical. there are much more realistic stories out there for children to learn about slavery, lower class struggles etc. But you forget that AG stories came with dolls. dolls that would be played with, cuddled, slept with at night. they just couldnt be too radical because the stories were read to kids sometimes as young as four or five. and they were neccessary to inspire girls to research more about history, to appreciate diferent ethnic heritage and in general to learn about stuff they would otherwise lear much later, but in a very child friendly way. samantha, kirsten and felicity lived in dark and tough times and they could not just change reality around them at ten years old. they did the best they could to help others. many american girls learned about the natives oppression and segregation in a child friendly way but they still appreciated the struggle of minorities and the freedom that american citizens have nowadays. so whether radical or not these books made a lot of girls better, more understanding people plus diverted their attention from tv, magazines, electronics and other stuff towards reading and history. pleasant company didnt just do it for the money they did it because they wanted to make little girls happy. and it was a pleasure for them to collect all those historically accurate accessories and dress as samantha or kirsten and immerse themselves into that era. a very healthy and age appropriate activity I ould say. two of my friends became real geeks in history because of their love for AG and its the dolls that made them attracted to the whole thing in the first place. so yeah history in the books wasnt as radical as it could have been but for a five year old girl who just wants a pretty doll to play with those books were a great start and a great way towards other more serious books. mattel has retired the best characters and the new ones are good but not to my taste. I m not going to bash mattel for retiring the old dolls, all Im going to say is, neither Caroline or Julie`s stories match samantha or kirsten. and yes it seems as if the goal of mattel us really mostly to make money with the myAG and GOTY line. the reason I dont like GOTY is because they invent a new character each year without any speacial care for it, the stories are lame, the dolls almost always white with the same facemold (Im really sick of the classic facemold to be honest) and they dont teach or inspire girls the way older dolls did. I just wish that isntead of inventing a lame new story each year, AG would focus more on the historical dolls, movies, outfits, would promote the historicals heavier to create a trend for them so that girls would actually want to buy historicals, dress like them, play out scenes from previous generations and learn more. I dont hate MyAG I just wish the focus of AG would be less on a stupid innerstar website, some weird self esteem books and spa chair or pink hair clip ons, but more on the historical books, authentic accessories and historical movies. of course both mattel and Pleasant company make money on the dolls, but mattel is far more materialistic and the dolls are less value for more money.

    1. I like how you didn't read that this was a reaction piece to a poorly written article. /sarcasm Also, I''ll be using the enter key to not wall of text.

      I know AG came with dolls. That was the whole damn point of the company. The books were a tie in to make things educational. If people were reading the books to young children and they couldn't be too startled? Then that's not radical, thank you for proving my point. While the books inspired people to study history and still do--me included--the fact of the matter is that they're tamer than books can be and that a person researching needs to step beyond that.

      Samantha did not live through a dark time. She was rich. Kirsten did not live through a dark time; her friend died but after that she is not affected much with suffering. Felicity's biggest struggle beyond her best friends family being loyalists is that horse of hers. For every character, everything is mostly happy at the end and they don't deal with the deep struggles of the era. Yet you have people claiming that Samantha went on a one-girl crusade for labor rights because they only latch onto that part of the story.

      There is nothing wrong with children watching TV. I learned a shit lot from TV and so have many children. And electronics are not the great evil, so miss me with that shit.

      Pleasant Company, like any fucking business out here, did it for the money too. Every marketing twist and turn and release was to bring in the cashola. You can sit there sipping the kool-aid of Ms. Rowland being some sort of benevolent creator who only wanted to educate girls about history and keep them happy, but that's bullshit. Total bullshit. There are few to no businesses out there that are in it for just the joy of a child. Every company wants to make a profit on the things they design, and they aren't going to stay in it for the love of the product if they're losing money hand over fist. Pleasant Rowland didn't hesitate much when she sold the company to Mattel.


    2. Mattel is bringing back Samantha, can you quit whining now about the best going away? Retirement allowed new characters to come out covering new time periods, and their stories can push just as hard. Caroline's books are damn good and focus on a time that often gets skipped over and Julie's may bounce from topic to topic but she covers things that girls today take for granted like the right to play sports, have a clean environment, and be educated equally among their peers. And shit, so do Samantha's.

      "I'm not going to bash Mattel" zie says, five seconds before mewling that the best stories are gone forever because the dolls aren't there and disparaging the GotY line. Screw you, schools losing art programs to No Child Left Behind, teaching to the test, bullying, and the idea that children shouldn't ever go outside and get some fresh air because then snatchings forever! The real struggles for anything were in the past, screw your current problems. Wonderbread might not have a good story but the idea that every GotY has a shit story is willfully blind.

      Wow, Mattel is a business and wants to make money? Who'd have thunk it? I'm sure PC only wanted to bring joy and education to children without sugar coating it--wait that's what you actually said like an idiot. PC wasn't less motivated by money--Mattel owning AG is likely the only reason it's still going as hard as it is.

      AG focusing on new ways to spread their product like online games and activities and the BeForever revamp is probably the best way to get people--not just girls--to give the historicals more notice. Every person is self centered and not every person wants to study history. The internet isn't going away, so AG embracing it as a method to get people to focus on all their lines is a great thing. You sound like Grandmary, whining that the changes shouldn't happen because my past was fine! "We didn't have that there internets when I was a kid and I still learned things even if I learned less and couldn't question things!"

      "weird self esteem thing" Given the way girls and women are torn down every day in this world starting from the youngest ages, AG needs to focus more on self esteem and feeling good about themselves, not less.

      In conclusion, everything you said was with the same nostalgia kiddy shit that the original article barfed up. AG needs to change and adapt to embrace a new generation with new focus, because the rose-glassed past kids of the 80s and 90s aren't going to carry the line into the future.

    3. I was scrolling for this post to link to try and circumvent some nostalgia glasses BS about BeForever and oh hi Ren's comments. But yeah, you are f*ckin' *slaying* here and this is shit that needs to be slayed because goddamn. Can't connect to the current characters? Too bad two of the current characters, three if you count Samantha's return, were f*ckin' created under PTR. Thank you also for calling out the fact she sold to goddamn Mattel. What do these stans think happened? Mattel stole the company from her, leaving her broke and penniless and with no more girls to "make happy"? She sold the company for a shitload of money ffs.


      lol, Ren, you and your names. ;P <3

    4. Okay, one last thing...

      " the stories were read to kids sometimes as young as four or five"

      Despite the fact the books say age 8 and up. I mean, cool, I read them younger than that and I don't think they're inappropriate for children younger than that, the dolls being a different story, but don't act like they don't have an intended audience and one that can handle sh*t, mmkay?

    5. Guess what? I think in some ways, Mattel is FAR more radical than Pleasant Rowland ever was. In 2009, we had both the first Jewish historical and the first homeless character (admittedly, a side character, but baby steps). In 2011, we got Cecile (sorry, I'm not good at the accent marks), a black character in the antebellum South who was not only free but wealthy. We now have Melody of the 1960s, and will soon have a character who may have been personally affected by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The stories cover epidemics, labor uprisings with actual consequences for actual characters (as opposed to a second-hand account of how bad factories are but you don't have to worry dear because you're safe now and the nice rich people won't let them hurt you), and an actual church bombing in which actual children actually died. Two of the GOTY characters have had invisible disabilities. Also, the Today line includes not only wheelchairs, but hearing aids, bald heads, diabetes testing kits, arm crutches and allergy kits. Because not everyone gets the perfect life.

  9. Yeah it does but it could change in a different more subtle way. Why, for one thing we havent seen any historical movies for the last few years? I hope mattel brings them back as well as craft kits, cookbooks, historical outfits and world books that allowed the kids to immerse themselves in the culture of previous generations. And no there s nothing wrong with watching Tv or using Internet but there are tons of other companies out there focused on that while the thing that makes AG special is historical stuff that is nowhere else to be found.
    BTW I actually agreed with your post in most of my comment but you seem to enjoy bashing people. oh well. And yeah theres nothing wrong with having some nostalgia or proving a point.

    1. Subtle changes aren't going to improve the world or do the company any good if the Historical line is struggling.

      There hasn't been any historical movies because of a focus on the GoTY and a de-emphasis of the best friend's line, which the movies were heavy pushing. I too hope they bring back craft and art kits; they had them for a while but again, they weren't moving. I got nearly all mine on discount. The fact is that a child nowadays won't just immerse into a world with crafting and reading and books, this is a digital world and whining that TV and electronics are getting in the way of the "pure message" of history is nostalgia.

      Yes, there are other companies using the internet to promote their products and get the message. And it's working. There's a reason Borders went out of business and Amazon is thriving.

      I don't enjoy "bashing" I just don't cotton to stupid statements. There is a problem with nostalgia when it blinds you to the changing future and the progress of today. Love your childhood--I love mine--but don't act like it was the best childhood ever and the pinnacle of learning and that this new turn to the line will destroy everything.

    2. Im happy samantha is coming back. and I am not the enemy of progress. of course AG had to spice things up for the historical line. I just hope they wont screw it up for the sake of better sales. the new samantha - really excited to see her new outfit ( I could even live with the pink and white headband instead of the iconic bow) but the changes in the stories make me feel uneasy. the my journey with samantha books ounds creepy.
      the whope point of creating historical dolls was to help girls dive into that specific time period and leanr what its like for children to live there.
      yet nobody meant that literally! now in order to make books more relatable to young kids hey actually send a modern child back in time on a journey with samantha. ummm well. for one doll that would probably be cool but for all of them... I just dont know. Im sure you ll buy the new historical books of Addy at least. please do write a detailed review on them especially that weird journey book. smth tells me you ll make a lot of harsh and snarky comments. I know I would. but Im not in the states right now so no chance to get the new books.

  10. Do kids really have to know this stuff? What happened to innocent childhood. There is time enough to learn of the evils of this world both past and present. Can't a child just play with her doll and read a story about that doll sans disturbing reality ... just for now?

    1. The idea that children (most often white, upper class ones) are somehow such innocent little bubble creatures who shouldn't know about "yucky, disturbing" things and should have repressed or denied information to keep them in some stupid ideal of innocent is the biggest crock of shit ever to come out of history. You want to know what happened to innocent childhood? Fucking reality. I would never keep a child ignorant to soothe my own mentality about their perceived "purity." Fuck that shit.

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  12. Yeah, I knew for years that AG wasn't "radical". It took five dolls to get one of color. None of the original characters were denied an education. (Kirsten, the "pioneer," moved to an area settled enough to have an established school, and Addy, the escaped slave, was able to go to a school that wasn't under constant threat of being torched.) None had to work instead of attending school. Two of the original three were affluent enough to have household staff. All came from intact families except Samantha, and she had a boatload of loving and wealthy relatives ready and willing to take her in. Also, her parents died in a boating accident. They didn't waste away from TB. Molly's father came home from the war alive and in one piece, and even had the chance to do some Christmas shopping.
    You know what I would have loved to have seen? What would have been really radical? A girl who spent WWII in an internment camp. Or the 1904 story told from Nellie's standpoint (besides that sequel book that came out after she got adopted and became a rich girl). Working in a thread factory, losing a job as a maid because she was too sick, being denied an education, and then losing her parents to influenza. Then, for added shits and giggles, abandoned by her only living relative and packed off to an abusive orphanage. And I'm still waiting on a Lowell mill girl! (Now that they revamped, they can do it.)
    But they never will. Because the point was not learning history. The point was selling $100 dolls and china tea sets, four-poster beds and fancy dresses. History was just the "hook"--but for the parents.


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