This weekend's reading post has been hijacked by me ranting about American Girl. Every American woman who was a little girl over the last 25ish years probably knows what I'm talking about. You know, the adorable American Girl Dolls-historical dolls that come with stories about life back in the day, and outfits, furniture, and accessories that are authentic to the time period the doll lives in. I grew up collecting these dolls. While I love the modern girls, my favorites have always been the historicals. It was these dolls really that sparked my love of both history and reading. Their stories are fascinating. And being able to read with your doll and dress her in the same clothes she wears in the books is so much fun.
For the last few years, Mattel (who bought the company quite a few years ago from Pleasant Company) has been slowly "archiving" historical dolls. This is really just a nice way of saying "retiring". Because once a doll is archived, you cannot buy the doll or her clothes or her accessories or her furniture from the American Girl Doll website or stores. First, it was Samantha, which shocked collectors everywhere, because she has always been the company's best selling historical doll. Next, Kirsten. I thought this was kind of funny, seeing as Samantha was my little sis's favorite growing up, and Kirsten was my twin sis's favorite doll growing up. What came next though, I never saw coming.
Felicity, my all-time favorite dolly in the whole wide world, is being archived. WTF?! (excuse my French....). I found out about this yesterday, and it broke my heart. I've been collecting for Felicity since I was 5 years old. I got her for Christmas in 1995. She was my first American Girl doll, and I remember begging and begging "Santa" to bring her. He did, and I was the happiest person alive. Lissie and I grew up together, and I've slowly added to her collection over the last 15 years. I don't have it all, but I always thought I'd be able to keep collecting pieces as I got older.
Well that dream is over, now isn't it?!
If you're still reading my little rant, thank you, and here's where I get to the point of this whole post. These dolls were created by Pleasant Rowland because she wanted young girls to have good role models that taught them invaluable life lessons, and got them into history and reading! It definitely worked, because I owe my love of reading and history (and also my awesomely strong and sweet personality *wink wink*) to these dolls. When Rowland sold her company to Mattel, it was under the promise that they would never ever retire a historical doll. The word "archival" is their way of skirting around the issue. I don't care if they say "Oh we need to make shelf space for new historicals blah blah blah". They are taking away a part of history and a part of childhood that every girl should be able to have. Instead of introducing so many new dolls, why not focus more on the collections already out?? Or write more books for the dolls? Or perhaps STOP making so many "modern dolls" with mini iPods and cell phones. Girls don't need little clones of themselves, they need something to teach them about what girlhood used to be about. Taking away the historical dolls is basically like saying "fuck it" to the American Girl mission statement.
With that being said, I now have decided to start rereading all of the historical American Girl books. I read most of them as a little girl, and they are so great and adorable and thought provoking and emotional. I'll be sharing my journey of America's history through the eyes of these young girls with you all on my blog as I read the books :)
Here is a photo of my Felicity and her best friend Erin as they look at the page in the current catalog about Lissie's archival.