Barbie Flashback and the American Girl Addiction.

FLASHBACK to August 1978
. It is my sixth birthday party. Someone has given me a Barbie doll. I hate dolls, I say. They’re stupid, and they don’t do anything. I toss it in the back of my closet and forget about it.

. Junior year of high school. My friend Andrew wears combat boots with the disembodied, disfigured head of a Barbie doll tied to one of his shoelaces. I think that this is the coolest thing ever, and dig up the old Barbie from the back of my closet. I give her an asymmetrical, Duran Duran haircut, rip her head off, and tie it to the rearview mirror of my car.


. Senior year of college. I’m taking a seminar entitled, “American Culture in the 1960s.” I write my final paper on the ways in which Barbie has permanently damaged the American female psyche.


. Michael and I are in Chicago for a wedding. Harper, two years old, has been left home, and I’m feeling guilty about it. Suddenly, a red storefront looms in front of me. American Girl, it says in bold, white letters. What’s that? I ask Michael. He shrugs. Excited at the prospect of having found something new, we enter. Almost immediately, I am regretting it. There are little girls everywhere, clutching dolls that look exactly like them, that are dressed exactly like them. I stare at them as I ride the escalator to the third floor, wondering what kind of freakish cult we’ve stumbled upon. After seeing the doll hair salon, I run for my life. Barbie suddenly seems quaint. I will never let Harper have one of those things, I tell Michael. NEVER.


FLASHBACK to one year ago
. An invitation arrives in the mail. It is for a birthday party at the new American Girl store that has opened in Los Angeles. It is addressed to Harper Green and her American Girl doll. I immediately throw it in the trashcan and e-mail my regrets to the mother. I am extremely pleased with myself for having dodged that bullet.


FLASHBACK to two months ago
. Harper comes home from kindergarten and informs me that all of her new friends have something called American Girl dolls that look like them. She wants one. I tell her maybe for Hanukkah and pray that she will forget about it.


FLASHBACK to two weeks ago
. I ask Harper what she wants for Hanukkah. She hasn’t forgotten about it.



I think you've got it all right, Risa. PS - I'm re-reading NOTES and am starting up some hype at work about the show. There are 3 other couples like myself & hubby that are trying to get pregnant, and we just think it's hilarious!


I'm dismayed that AG has gotten such a bad reputation with moms. This company strongly promotes the concept of a girl holding on to her childhood as long as possible, holding off the ever increasing early onset of the teen years. I find 12 year olds in Britney Spears-like clothing much more offensive than a 12 year old dressing like her doll.

I will gladly be buying my daughter an American Girl doll when the time comes. I'll be thrilled she is content to have a role model that says it's ok to be your own age, and to be a strong, confident, active girl. If she happens to pick up a little history lesson along with her toy, all the better!


I'm totally with you!! I tried in vain to avoid Barbies and Prinesses and even refused to buy my daughter any pink clothes. But, to no avail! Through birthday parties and grandparents, these things slowly sneaked their way into our home. My daughter is now 8, and not really into Barbie anymore, and only into American Girl a bit. (yes, I bought her one last year, but she rarely plays with it.) She's discovered Club Penguin (part of Disney) online and loves it. Anything besides Barbie, and I'm happy!! (For the record, American Girl was on Oprah last week - I did some more research and they do promote strong, young, confident girls and I'm totally supportive of that!)


To me, the doll isn't so bad, my three youngest daughters play nicely with them, it's the other stuff like the hair salon that poses a problem for me...


what's left to say? Risa has nailed it. As someone just holding her breath til my five year old granddaughter (or her other grandmother) discovers the American Girl mafia, I applaud you, Risa, and will run right out and buy a Barbie to, ahem, modify.