|Hola, amigos y amigas, from Josefina.|
BeForever has been, in my opinion, one of the best things that could happen to the Historical section of American Girl. Before the launch, the line was getting muted out by both Girls of the Year and the modern line, who unlike the Historicals weren't stuck in a narrative of still being tied to the old days of Pleasant Company for a huge part. While new things came out here and there, they had their meet outfits the same since the initial release--and as I said in an older post,1 AG could only bleed us so long on old things. I'm a reliable Addy buyer, but before BeForever launched I could count the number of outfits of hers I didn't have on one hand. I have her whole collection, and I'm not the only one. American Girl can't really make money off of collections that people have already, especially not in an era where people can buy secondhand a lot easier than before (eBay yoooo). BeForever has given the Historicals a huge breath of fresh air that several characters had been lacking, and there is little in the line I don't adore and don't want to get my hands on for the girls I collect for.2 The three biggest Historicals to get makeovers were Samantha (back from the past), Julie, and probably Kit; however, there are those that got very little focus. The biggest example is Josefina Montoya, who didn't get anything but a new BeForever Meet outfit. She hasn't even gotten a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book yet. This has led to whispers of her being retired or downplayed by AG, mixed with the rumors that she was set aside and she'll get her full new things come spring. We'll see.
Josefina was the last Historical Character released before the Official Purchase from Mattel, coming out late 1997. She and her stories represents the New Mexico area in the 1820s, when it was not yet part of the US and still part of Mexico, a still new country that had very recently separated from Spain. As in, Josefina would have been considered Spanish when she was born, since she was born seven or so years before the Mexican Revolution.3 Josefina is from a fairly well-to-do family; they have their own ranch which wasn't cheap, and her grandfather traveled as a trader. When Josefina was released--with a brand new face mold--she joined Addy as the only other character of color outside of the American Girls of Today and the only expressly Latina character.4 It wouldn't be until Marisol Luna in 2005 that another Latina character would be released and not until 2006 that the face mold would be used for a moddie. Her face mold, however, has been used for four other Historical Characters, another moddie, and two Girls of the Year, all who have been white. I find this slightly annoying, personally. Can we get some Josefina Face Mold darker than unflavored oatmeal, please. Ahem. Originally at release, Josefina also had her books translated into an older style of Spanish, something not done anymore and only done with her. Somewhere in my house is Josefina's birthday book in Spanish. Unique, but it didn't last long.
Josefina was one of the characters I fell for in the AG line, having grown up in Texas and having lots of exposure to Chicano culture as a child, and so I definitely wanted her to be part of my collection at some point. I was fortunate in 2006 to, with a tax refund check, be able to get Josefina with what's now called her Classic meet set in a private purchase that included some of her outfits, Kaya, and some of Kaya's stuff at a discount. Her meet outfit is intended to reflect the loose comfortable wear of women and girls in Mexico during the era; it consists of a camisa (blouse), print skirt, sash belt, drawers, hair ribbon, flower hair decoration, and moccasins and came on her. I'm not about to work out the math of how much that cost me but it wasn't full cost; currently the Classic Meet is available from AG direct for $36. Her accessories were purchased soon after I got her for what was then $20 and consist of a jola coin, handkerchief, waist pouch, garnet necklace, and rebozo; the cost is now $24 as with any other set of accessories. At the launch of BeForever, I got her updated Meet outfit for $36 day of release; it has all the same parts, but with some notable changes. It's quite possible that she'll be losing the coin and handkerchief come any BeForever revamps, so if you want those jump on it soon. Since little changed in her meet outfit, I'll be comparing things as I go for the most part. It doesn't make sense to write two separate paragraphs on parts of the outfit that are near exactly the same in design.
|Earrings: Now for Josefina.|
|Flowers and ribbons.|
Flowers and Hair Ribbon: Josefina, brand new, comes with her hair back in a braid, tied off with a blue hair ribbon, and tucked in near the bow are a plastic set of three yellow primroses. In her meet book, Josefina gathers some evening primrose flowers and Florecita, a goat that irritates the hell out of her, tackles her and eats them all. She still manages to get some for her braid, though. I like that this has a tie to her stories, and flowers in hair will never stop being adorable. Technically, my ribbon is not her specific meet ribbon; I bought a set of replacements in Josefina's Hair Ribbons and either use that one or one I cut for her myself. But it's a ribbon, and every girl is cuter with hair decs, and this one gets the job done. B for both the ribbon and the flowers. Take note, though, that unless you're buying Josefina brand new you're not going to get either one buying her meet sets from AG. You can probably find decent reproductions of either at craft stores and not pay $20 on eBay.
|Rebozos make multiple looks come easy.|
Rebozo: Where everyone else prior to Josefina had a hat in their meet accessories, Josefina has a rebozo--a long, flat multicolored cotton cloth that is a mix of shawl and scarf.
The name comes from rebozar, a Spanish verb meaning "to cover", and is almost exclusively worn by women. While the origins of the garment are half lost to history, they have been documented in use by Latina women for hundreds of years and even now Mexican and other Latina women use rebozos in a multitude of ways including as a sign of cultural pride. Very few rebozo are of a single color or without design. They can also be made of any cloth ranging from cotton to fine silk, and some are so finely woven that they can pass through a ring. All rebozo are woven; while Josefina's is technically not any different than standard woven cloth, it's designed to simulate loom wove rebozo.
There have been two distinct versions of Josefina's rebozo. I have the newer Mattel style where, instead of a diamond pattern, the rebozo just has lined stripes of reds, blues, yellows, and ocher shades. If I find an older PC one for a decent cost then I'll update this post to show you the differences at that time, but it's not so much a big deal to me right now.
|Super long for versatility.|
The end of the rebozo has knotted fringe about one and a half inches long, from the remaining cloth. Very few rebozo have no fringe on the edge and it is one of the more distinguishing traits of the garment.
|Around the arms.|
|Older rebozo, wraps the same.|
|Diamonds and stripes.|
A. The rebozo is colorful in both forms, authentic, uniquely Mexican, and a lot more versatile than anyone else's headwear. While with everyone else I can be a little hit and miss about them wearing their hats, I almost never have Josefina without her rebozo, and it's the part of Josefina's meet wear that I find myself using everywhere in her collection.
|It's hip to be pouch.|
|Inside is nothing! Well, not when I took the picture.|
|Small, square, and neat.|
B+--the plus is because of the modest design element.
|Camisa, good for what wears ya. Classic style.|
|Super long for extra warm.|
|Closure. Dirty closure.|
|Camisa: New Style.|
|Here's your particulars.|
|Sashay away. (Classic.)|
|Latina girls in blue woven sashes. (BeForever.)|
|Blue and Brown.|
|Skirts. Comfortable ones.|
One thing Josefina's books emphasize is that, while Americans and white women were wearing pretty uncomfortable stuff, Josefina's clothes were a blend of Spanish and Native American styles and went for practicality more often than not. The skirt is a basic skirt design of a rectangle gathered to a waistband and, if you can measure and sew, you can probably make tons of them for Josefina to wear out of calico.5 If you're super nervous, use her patterns.
|Waist not, want not.|
|Half a petticoat is better than none.|
|Now in BF version!|
The Classic Skirt gets a B, where the new BeForever one gets an A.
|Cover your bum.|
|A little flare.|
|And you thought the camisas had no change.|
|We've replaced Josefina's PC Classic Drawers with Mattel's BeForevers. No one can tell the difference.|
|Moccasins. Not wholly PC, not wholly Mattel.|
|New shoes. Boo, shoes.|
*~*~*Time for book connections.
Until the launch of BeForever, Josefina's classic look was on all covers of Meet Josefina, including the Spanish cover.
Josefina's meet outfit, handkerchief, necklace and pouch (not seen) are on one page, and two versions of wearing her rebozo on another. I scanned two pages for this and edited it, so mine. This is also included in her second edition paper dolls as well as her Play Scenes.
To cosplay as Josefina until 2000, you could buy her meet set: the camisa for $32, skirt and sash for $45, the rebozo for $36 and Josefina's Garnet Necklace for $18. $131 total. Official cosplay is expensive. Make your own. And Josefina's rebozo is part of her pattern set, if you want to make more. So is her skirt--in a way. I'll show when I do that review.
Overall Feel: Josefina's old meet set, while nice, wasn't very colorful and didn't feel very bright to me. The simple comfortable style was the best part, but the muted colors seems to make her dull and subdued. The new set has its good, but the newer shoes aren't as good as the old leather ones. Just kill some cows, and let the vegans weep. Overall, some pieces have variances that are so small that if there had been a way to just get the skirt and sash, I could have done that alone and the change would look the same. And the camisa, because more camisas are a good thing. (Between the ones I make and some I've bought, Josefina never lacks for camisa variety.) I love the new set's skirt more than anything, but prefer the older shoes. Good thing Josefina's entire style was mixing and matching, so I can do that. Josefina's hair decs, by the way, are the utter best. Her rebozo is the best part of her accessories and so beautifully iconic and versatile for her; I can't think of many images in the old illustrations where she doesn't have it or another like it. The rest of it is great, but the rebozo alone is wonderful. Josefina still remains the only Historical character with "headgear" that doubles as a baby carry.
Cost Value: Both the Classic and BeForever sets are the same cost of $36; the Classic will eventually likely go out of stock, so if you buy a BeForever Josefina and want the old look, add that into the cart please. Since my Josefina was purchased secondhand, she was at a lower cost and was only missing her hair ribbon, which I can and did make another of. You can still get the classic accessories since they haven't changed yet for BeForever styles, but they could soon and likely would no longer have a coin and handkerchief since no one else does anymore (and Rebecca and Caroline never did, anyways). So if little Mexican currency and hand linen matter to you, get on that.
Authenticity: Mmhmm. Josefina and many Mexican women like her dressed in this style well into the turn of the century. It wasn't until White America expected the population to dress and be oppressed to White styles of clothes that the clothes went out of style; still, they remained in some ways through the times and the style, updated for a new era, can be seen in some ways today. Growing up in Texas, I had lots of comfortable "Mexican dresses" that I wore everywhere, which were a variation on the camisa, and rebozos remain a part of the culture.
Appropriateness to Character: Quite. While Josefina's meet stuff doesn't have the impact on the stories as say, Addy's things, they are a part of her culture and her style, and they fit into her stories--the rebozo especially, as she wears and uses it everywhere. It's even seen in Josefina Saves the Day with her summer dress. Also, can we not just be putting these clothes on, say, Molly and Kit and blonde moddies for shits and giggles? Unless they're now getting redone as Hispanic/Latina characters, which is possible. Latina women and girls can appear in many racial appearances, and there were and still are Latinos of Asian, Native, and African descent. Remember that culture is not a costume.
Final Grade: Classic gets a B+, BeForever gets an A. I love the new stuff just a little more.
|A lot of a little bit more.|
1 Point Four, if you need to jump to it.
2 Funny enough, that's pretty much everyone, since Julie's stuff gets jacked for Otters, Caroline gets swiped for Beth Cady, Sam stuff can go to Nellie, and Becca stuff looks good on Marisol.
3 Which makes her one of the few characters who was part of three different countries in her "lifetime," I think. Spain, then Mexico, and finally the US.
4 Later posts: Why Josefina does not have Textured Hair Like Addy.
5 Don't get too many bright ideas. She'll look terrible in a skirt out of glittery Halloween fabric, sorry not sorry.
6 Should she come back, I demand better boots. And less bangs.