|Addy, Michi, and my mom's Cécile.|
In this picture are three lovely dolls. To the left is my Addy, to the right is Michi Taylor, and in the center is Cécile. But Cécile's not mine2. This pretty girl belongs to my mother--I gifted her to my mom when I went to AG Houston, along with her starter accessories. When I told some people this, they were a little shocked that my mom wanted an AG doll. Why would grown people want dolls? Shouldn't we want things like babies, or cars, or booze or houses or other mature, adult things? Isn't doll collecting a sign of immaturity and not growing up?
Fuck no. AG dolls might have a lower limit in my eyes, but they have never had an upper limit. Children can be too young for dolls and toys. But people can never, never be too old for dolls.
Let's talk about me and Addy Walker. When I was about thirteen years old, Addy Walker came out. I found out because I went to go visit my grandmother for Christmas in Milwaukee, and they had sent her an American Girl catalog for some reason. She let me look through it. And I vaguely remembered the line, and that I had liked Kirsten. But who was this on the cover? This pretty black doll in a pretty plaid dress being held while they read the story together?
I flipped past Felicity and Kirsten, and I saw her. A black doll in a cinnamon pink dress and a straw bonnet, who was part of history too.
|Yep, just like that.|
Her name was Addy Walker. She had brown skin and brown eyes and long hair to her hips, and she was an American Girl. She was from 1864. She was a girl who, with her momma, had gotten her freedom. She had cap toed boots, and black stockings, and drawers and a cowrie shell necklace around her neck. And she was beautiful. I hadn't ever seen a doll like her. And this was back with the catalog centerfolds, so she was in all her 18 inches of glory. I fell in utter love with her, right then and there. I wanted her so bad.
I carried the catalog with me, and asked my grandmother for her for Christmas or my next birthday--I didn't want anything else, just her and her accessories and her three book set. Please, I begged, I'd read the books and take care of her and love her.
My grandmother took the catalog, and looked at her price, and she looked at me, and she said something that she didn't mean to be crushing, but it was.
"She's expensive. Aren't you too old to be asking for dolls and toys?"
My heart sank as I took the catalog away. Too old for dolls? But--I still liked them! I still had my Cabbage Patch kids, and my Barbies, and my plushies--I'd lost my ponies but I hoped someday to find them again3. I liked finding plushies at resale stores, and I loved cleaning up poor, sad dolls and giving them new fresh lives. I'd become very upset a year or so before when I'd started my period for the first time because everyone had told me that when you started your rag you had to start wearing makeup and kissing boys and not playing with toys anymore. I'd been so upset I'd tried to hide that I had started. My mom had told me this wasn't true, when she found out. But was she wrong? Could you be too old for dolls?
I decided no, no I couldn't be. And that I would get Addy Walker, someday. Rather than tell the whole story, I'll link to it on my DeeDubya: Addy's Story. To sum it up here: I finally got Addy for Giftmas 2005. And I barely put her down all day. I brushed her and dressed her and I called my mom and I cried because I had Addy. I snuggled with her at night and dressed her in days and I squeezed her and whispered that I loved her and I'd wanted her for twelve years and she was finally there with me.
|The first picture I ever took of Addy Walker.|
And even as I've expanded my AG collection to twenty-six dolls and several other dolls and more clothes than even I wear, I never forget that moment when I opened my box and I literally started crying that I had Addy. And my mother in law didn't think it was weird that her son's fiance wanted a doll more than anything that Giftmas. I started sewing for her, and then Naomi when she came along, and all my gang, and getting collections, and loving them all.
Addy was my first--and she's my most spoiled--but she wasn't my last. I'm thirty-three this fall, and my mom turned sixty-two this spring. And we love dolls. My late grandmother--my mom's stepmother--loved dolls too. When I was little, I used to love sitting in the living room and looking at her display dolls--she had them on tables and shelves and as long as I never knocked them over I could touch and be gentle with them. Unfortunately, the family got their hands on a lot of them--but my mom managed to get four of them for me, and I plan to have them in honored places in my home once I clean up more. My mom has never squashed my love of my dolls. So when my mom looked at Cécile and said she was the one she wanted--even more so than Addy--I bit down and picked her up and let my mom cradle her and saw my mom just grin brighter than she had in months. And my mom couldn't have been happier. She's going to start sewing and designing things for AG, and she calls Addy her granddolly.
But before my mom this summer, this spring I gifted a dear friend of mine with her own Marisol. Again, not doing the whole story. Look at Meet Mari: An American Girl. But from my side: I saw her on eBay, I bit down, and I had her come here and get cleaned up because I wanted to spread the dolly love. I made her a dress, got her a couple of outfits, and sent her as a birthday gift. And now we exchange clothes and outfits and send our dolls packages back and forth along with each other. And we're grown women.
|Marisol to the left, Miss Mari to the right. Dolls for all!|
Before I was board booted, I spoke to collectors ranging from mid-teens to old enough to be grandparents. (Not all of them were worth my time, but that is another complaint department.) I'm still friends with a lot of them, and stay in touch my own way. We don't feel like being an adult stops us from loving our dolls, or that we have to give them up to grow up. It's often cited to women that they need to mature when they get older, and that dolls are something you put away. But to quote C.S Lewis again, "When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
And to quote Maya Angelou after that: "Most people don't grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging."
American Girls and the AG fandom can appeal and do appeal to everyone. There's probably going to be a few people getting Molly out of nostalgia for their childhood--either because they remember Molly from the first three in their childhood, or because they are old enough to have IDed with Molly. I'm sure there's adults who have Julie because she's from their childhood. And if they ever come out with an 80s doll, I might have to bear down and scoop her up. Or at least some of her stuff for Kimmy and Tyarra. The characters aren't just to teach the young about history--they're for older people too. And think about it--you're an adult! You might have disposable income, that you can spend on dolls in a way you couldn't as a kid.
I found this long ago on the internet:
Man I used to think like oh god if I went out and grew up and got a job and whatever other adult things, I wasn't going to be able to be in fandom any more. But then it was like holy shit, I have money. Holy shit, I can buy stuff. Holy shit, I can buy all the things and do all the things (that I can afford to pay for, anyway) and I don't have to answer to anybody. If I want to play Pokémon instead of watching a football game or something who's going to tell me not to? And if they do, I don't have to listen! Why? Because I'm a goddamn adult, that's why!
--case, on DW, Fandom Secrets #1983
And yeah, that's me in a nutshell.
As I mess about on Tumblr, I see these teenagers who often go "Oh, I found my old AG doll in a closet, haha what am I gonna do with this I'm too old." Which sort of aches, because I remember being in that position and feeling like I couldn't have dolls anymore. (Lucky me, though, in that by the time the internet was stable enough I was past about 90% of my teenage issues, even if I struggle with depression.) I hope that maybe they won't give in to the idea they've aged on or that AG is just a childhood thing. But it's them and not me. I also see "I found my doll, so many good memories, but am I too old for this? I'm twenty/fifteen/etc." Nope. You're not too old. If your heart feels it, do it. Get your doll out, and her accessories. Brush her hair with some braid spray, kiss her nose and remember that you loved her once and there's no reason you can't love her again. And if you don't feel like you love your doll anymore--or for some reason, you really gotta have those concert tickets or new jeans or any of that--sell her or give her away.
But if you think that you have to tuck or sell or get rid of your AG with your menarche--let me be one of the people to say no you don't. Now, I'm not saying that if you're not a doll person, that you have to be. But if you are, or if you want to be--don't ever think that because you've gotten into middle school or high school or college or gotten married or had kids that you have to stop loving dolls. You don't have to use your kids as a cover, or say this is for them, or decide with your first pregnancy that you're going to put your dolls in the closet in a box and never look at them again until you hand them down because dolls are for little girls.
You're never too old to like dolls, toys, or any of the things that make you happy--and to act like you have to give up things to mature is bullshit.
Fuck the haters. Love your dolls.
|Michi Taylor ain't any less doll loved than Addy Walker.|
1 Yes, yes, I know I'm behind on my Magazine Monthly. But last month was rough, and I'm actually waiting on the paper doll that goes with issue 2, so if you're willing to wait a week or so, I can review her with the magazine. Sit tight.
2 Mine was at home. >.>
3 I did, and more besides.
4 You know, like me.