“You’re returning from your blogging-hiatus-due-to-scholarly-pursuits by posting about a doll?” Well, you know, dear friends, that I am a girl of many facets.
I haven’t thought about American Girl dolls in approximately twelve years. In my youth, I was obsessed with the AG catalogue, but those historical (and historically expensive) beauties were always beyond the reach of my family’s limited doll-buying budget. Instead, I spent my formative doll-play years enacting all sorts of magical escapades with Stardust Classic Dolls, a fantasy-inspired 18″ doll alternative (now defunct) that fit our wallets and my imagination a little better.
It just so happened, though, that I stopped for dinner at a mall outside of Boston last week while returning home from the New England Aquarium…and what to my wondering eyes should appear but an American Girl store! Of course I, the girl who had never seen a real American Girl doll in the flesh (vinyl?) before, had to take a peek.
I recognized many familiar favorites from my childhood catalogue-perusing days: Josefina, Addy, Samantha, and Kaya all still look great even in 2016. I was enchanted by the newest addition Melody Ellison, a stylish girl from the 1960s who loves to sing and has an entire recording studio playset. (If I were to invest $115 in an American Girl Doll today, Melody would probably be my top pick.)
But then I stopped dead in my tracks when I noticed another new-ish member of the American Girl family. This one, Maryellen, is from the 50s. She wears circle skirts and swing dresses and has ginger-orange hair with side bangs.
Which means–as you might have guessed by now–that she looks eerily like me. (Except she sweeps her bangs to the opposite side. I won’t judge.) So of course I had to acquire a mini Maryellen to do a proper visual comparison!
I find the mini American Girl dolls way cuter than their larger counterparts, actually–though that might be just because I like tiny things with impeccable little details. And miniature Maryellen has those in spades!
Her dress and shrug are a pastel peppermint dream. What’s even more delightful is that I’m pretty sure I could knit her another shrug just like that in a different color if I put my mind to it! Now I just need to track down some teensy needles…
She’s wearing a retro hairstyle that I would definitely try if I were also a doll rather than a human who gets headaches from high ponytails. Those side-swept bangs, though, are pretty much an exact copy of my standard style (have you been spying on me, American Girl?).
Little (fake-leather, of course) shoes with little buckles! Too much.
Of course, I had to join in on the fun and dress up in a Mary-Ellen-inspired ensemble! I don’t have a cute dress quite like hers, but this striped top and aqua cardigan brought me rather close. You’re probably not surprised that I also happened to have an aqua ribbon lying around.
(A note: it’s fun for me to hang out with a cute redhead doll like Maryellen who could be my vinyl doppelgänger (it was hard to find ginger dolls who weren’t Raggedy Ann when I was a kid!), but I was disappointed to find that AG currently has, for example, no American girls of Asian descent featured in their line of historical dolls, and yet there are so many white dolls that it’s possible to find something as specific as a strawberry-blonde with side-bangs. Using “girls growing up in the U.S.A. at various time periods throughout the past 250+ years” is a framework that should offer countless opportunities to tell diverse stories, and I hope they will keep that in mind as future dolls are released.)
What was the one toy/random thing that you coveted the most as a child? I may have dreamed of American Girls for a time, but in the end, our lower-cost dolls and stuffed animals received just as much love, and I wouldn’t have traded them for anything!