Slate has posted a conversation between a few of its female contributors about American Girl, the doll superpower, on the occasion of their first major motion picture. American Girl dolls are, they suggest, the very opposite of Barbie. Or are they?
While some dolls represent different periods in American history, coming complete with their own historical biographies, the “just like you” dolls come in a wide variety of hair, eye and skin colours. Yes, that’s right – not all the dolls are white! Though, no surprise, their “dark” skin tone seems pretty light to me. And I don’t really know enough to judge the historical accuracy to Disney stereotype ratio of the accessories designed for Kaya, the lone First Nations character.
There was a time when I coveted these dolls, but even at age ten I felt some ambivalence. I knew that American history wasn’t my history, and the relentless patriotism wore a bit thin. But the dolls seemed to reflect my world – they played sports, learned math, and used computers.