With the holidays not too far behind us, I thought it would be fun to rerun this post from a few years ago. If you’ve been following TMoM for a while, you also might remember this post that gives the opposite view of my post today. Whichever side you are on, I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you gifted an American Girl doll this past holiday season.
Last year, around Christmas, my mom called – and in a very excited tone – asked me if my daughter, Emily, would like an American Girl doll. My mom’s other granddaughter (age 10) has one and has absolutely loved it, so she thought this could be a great year for Emily to also receive one.
At first I nearly gushed about what a great gift that would be, and then I held my tongue. It’s not that I don’t like American Girl dolls. I think they are adorable and come with fantastic lessons for girls of all ages. Obviously the entire concept behind American Girl dolls is a brilliant success story.
But – from what I can tell – when you buy an American Girl doll you are not just buying a doll…you’re investing into a whole new lifestyle for your daughter. And that’s what makes me pause and wonder. Is it worth it?
Let me begin by saying that I am not writing this post to offend those who have American Girl dolls. I have already said I think they’re great. Actually I think the whole ideal behind American Girl is much better than Barbie (which we have a million of in our house). And just because I question whether or not my investment into American Girl is worth it, it doesn’t mean I question yours.
Yet here are five reasons that make me think twice before crossing the frontier to the whole American Girl lifestyle…
1) The cost.
I’m not cheap but I am cost-conscience. Believe me, if Emily was begging for this doll I would buy it for her in a heartbeat. I can justify $90 for a quality doll that will double as a keepsake, especially one that is specially tailored to look like my daughter. But, she’s not begging for it which is why I’ve had the time to weigh my thoughts on this purchase. The price tag on one doll may be high but that’s not what stops me. It’s all the pricey add-ons. I know from talking with others who have American Girl dolls that the purchase doesn’t end with the doll. There’s the clothes (both for doll and daughter), the sports and hobbies, the furniture, the package sets, the animals, the doll care products, and the premium priced list goes on and on and on. I know the same items can be accumulated with other toys and dolls, but $28 doll pajamas? I don’t think I’ve ever spent that same amount on PJs for my own daughter.
2) The copycats.
In regards to above point, there are other dolls on the market that are very similar…like Target’s Our Generation Doll or the Springfield dolls at Michael’s. These dolls look very much like American Girl dolls and come with all the same, fun clothes and accessories…for the half the price. So why spend double on a toy that’s virtually the same? Unless you want the American Girl brand. In that case, see my point 5 below.
3) The conviction.
I am not convinced Emily will play with her American Girl doll as much – and as long – as I would want her to (especially for all that will be invested). Of course that’s based on her personality; I know there are young girls who will – and have – played with their dolls so much that the cost has literally paid for itself over and over. Sure, Emily plays with dolls now. Every once in a while. But she’s nearing age nine and I’m not sure how long this phase will last. Perhaps the American Girl doll is a purchase moms make for their daughters who are much younger. So if I am going to take the plunge, I need more convincing that it’s worth it.
4) The culture.
I’m not referring to the wonderful lessons and stories that American girl teaches, but the empire it subscribes to. I’ve seen the stores and have walked through the levels of insane merchandise and services (photo studios and hair salons) provided to the soon-to-be and already sucked-in consumers. And I’ve dined in the cafe next to the little girls and dolls who are served meals and afternoon tea side-by-side. I’m not standing on some ethical soap box to say I refuse for my daughter to take part in all this (Emily would probably go nuts in that store). Obviously you don’t have to shop the stores if you own an American Girl doll. But high prices aside, it does seem a little excessive and a bit creepy.
5) The convention.
Part of me simply doesn’t want to hitch a ride on American Girl’s old-fashioned covered bandwagon. Right now I am content (and apparently so is Emily) with other toys and hobbies that are not so exorbitant. The time will come when her tastes change to more expensive and extravagant items. I’m lucky in that the wagon hasn’t made a stop at our house enough times to bring along drama, obsession, jealousy or a need to be in that club. If I purchased an American Girl doll I would be starting our own club, and do I really want to do that? Again I ask, is it all really worth it?
For those of you who have American Girl dolls, please prove me wrong. Or if you have similar thoughts as me, share your reasons why.