"Babe, you're freaking out," Logan says, taking my hand. "Let's browse."
May 22, 2017 3:11 AM   Subscribe

I implore you to set your better judgement aside, rationalize the fact that you have already clicked, and take my hand. We're going to the American Girl Store. [SLCracked; weirder than usual]
posted by automatic cabinet (35 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
(Inspired by this little derail, or just a standard synchronicity/recency illusion coincidence? :-)
posted by effbot at 3:44 AM on May 22, 2017

I have no idea why I read this.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:52 AM on May 22, 2017 [10 favorites]

Hell no. I've got two little girls. Twice was enough.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:00 AM on May 22, 2017

ok I'm new, intrigued and confused
posted by phodraws at 4:47 AM on May 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

So you're telling me that among Felicity, Samantha, Addy, Kirsten, and Molly, basically Taylor Swift is part of the American Girl crew now?

I 100% do not accept the non-historical dolls.
posted by Gordafarin at 5:20 AM on May 22, 2017 [10 favorites]

As someone who was squarely in the intended demographic for the original dolls, this piece made me laugh and gave me mixed feelings and cemented the fact that I will read every thinkpiece ever written on American Girl Dolls forever.

I also do not accept the non-historical dolls. I also hate the new book design because change is ew.

(Kirsten and Felicity, ftr, and they're going on display as soon as I've moved and have the space for it. It's eerie, how much reading those stories and playing with those dolls shaped my adult interests and even career.)
posted by kalimac at 5:25 AM on May 22, 2017 [10 favorites]

Logan shook his beautiful blond head ruefully. "It's true," he confirmed. "Something about us seems a little bit off."

posted by Literaryhero at 5:26 AM on May 22, 2017

Related, by Caity Weaver: The Best Restaurant In New York Is The American Girl Cafe
posted by padraigin at 5:33 AM on May 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

My years long obsession with Samantha has affected me in ways I still haven't fully untangled. Including my sexuality. So embarrassing. Going by the article, I guess I can be grateful I wasn't into Felicity.

Also sometimes I'm still sad I could never afford one of these dolls even though it's been 25 years and I am ostensibly an adult and I don't really care about dolls.
posted by congen at 5:56 AM on May 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

Finally, the fourth floor, where you can customize your own American Girl doll to look just like you (just like Hitler would have wanted)

posted by 41swans at 6:28 AM on May 22, 2017

I can imagine there's some ambivalence about the lack of diversity among American Girl dolls, while at the same time wanting to have loosely "period appropriate" dolls. I'm reminded of Chris Rock's bit about how, if he were given the opportunity to do time travel, he'd never want to go back farther than "before the Jackson 5 had their first album."
posted by jonp72 at 6:39 AM on May 22, 2017 [13 favorites]

Oh yes, we had champagne at our tea service at the American Girl Place dining room in Chicago. When it was at the old place and not in the mall.
posted by crush at 7:14 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

My parents had me read all of the American Girl books (from the library of course) and somehow prevented me from learning until I was safely out of their target age group that there were actual dolls and toys (that they could definitely not have afforded) that went along with the books. I really have to admire their resourcefulness; they were truly playing with fire.

Whenever I'm on NJ transit on weekends, I almost always see a family with a little girl carrying one of the dolls in a vaguely coffin-like looking backpack and I'm always curious about what the store is like. I think I'm good now.

I'm definitely a Molly.
posted by eeek at 7:17 AM on May 22, 2017 [8 favorites]

I also didn't even know there were dolls until a few years ago; I checked the books out at the library back in the early 90s. Of course, I only recently discovered my Cabbage Patch doll was actually a knock-off, too, so I salute my parents for that too.
posted by jenjenc at 7:33 AM on May 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Huh. Sort of adolescently creepy, like my 8th grade students who thought they were being original when they realized you could read sex into EVERYTHING.
posted by Peach at 7:50 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

The dolls were so expensive that I honestly didn't even want one (that's like 5 or 6 Barbies!) but in addition to reading the books, I loved the catalog. I would get it in the mail and flip through every page looking at all the adorable tiny hyper-specific THINGS! And then, again, loling over the prices. As I recall it would be like a teensy knitting basket or bedspread or punchbowl set for like $30-$50.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:58 AM on May 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

(*slowly backs out of the room*)
posted by 1adam12 at 8:06 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

The American Girl store in New York City was the first place I ever saw a washroom attendant in real life.

Not surprised at all about the booze. Hell, the Magic Kingdom isn't even dry anymore.

One of my best friends made Harry Potter outfits for her daughter's AG dolls. They were so cute that all their friends wanted them, and now she makes and sells them at craft fairs.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:28 AM on May 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

I read some of the books and got the catalog in the early 90s. Never had a doll but was strangely fascinated with all the accoutrements and how expensive they were. I don't know when the stores opened but I only learned about them in the past five years or so and went to the one in the Grove and was equally grossed out/numbed/fascinated. The new non-historical additions, and Mattel-izing isn't surprising at all, if only that I'm surprised it didn't happen earlier.
posted by SassHat at 8:43 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I bought TWO American Girl dolls for my daughter, plus outfits, with deployment money, which is the time when every soldier spends the money they have accumulated while having no expenses in stupid fashion. At the time it seemed totally normal, now I'm kind of like "I did WHAT?"

However, there is absolutely no point to having an AG doll that isn't historical, because they make knockoffs that look basically the same and are about the same quality as the not-good ahistorical dolls.
posted by corb at 8:48 AM on May 22, 2017 [8 favorites]

A few years ago, I was walking Fifth Avenue with a visiting ColdChef and his pre-teen daughter, and I said, YOU KNOW WHERE YOU SHOULD GO? The American Girl Doll Store! And I marched them right to the store and sent them in. No need to thank me, ColdChef!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:49 AM on May 22, 2017 [9 favorites]

I want the The Baby-Sitters Club Club to visit this store; they already have strong thoughts on the BSC character Logan.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:51 AM on May 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't be surprised about the alcohol at the American Girl restaurants. Some mommies need their "mommy juice" to withstand chaperoning all the Caitlyns and Skylers at the next American Girl birthday party.
posted by jonp72 at 9:00 AM on May 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

I was juuuuuust a little bit too old (and way too poor) to have an AG doll, although tween me would pore over the catalogues while babysitting. So I definitely got AG dolls for my girls when they were preschoolers, and they were surprisingly big hits with an even more surprising shelf life--the girls are surly teens now and were up in the attic dressing them a couple weeks ago. Those dolls have literally traveled the world with us.

My inlaws had a tradition for several years after the advent of the dolls, where they'd take them to the AG store after Christmas, let them pick a thing out, get the dolls' hair done, and then lunch at the cafe. My normally completely non-whimsical father in law always chose a doll to borrow during their meal. My very uptight mother in law never did. I've always thought that meant something but I've never been sure what, exactly.
posted by padraigin at 9:16 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Bob's Burgers episode "The Laser-inth" is the reason I know the cafe serves alcohol. (In the show, the dolls are parodied as "Special Girls" and one's a Cold-War-era ballerina/spy, but the planetarium laser light show final performance plotline, featuring music from the band "Zentipede," is the real draw.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:17 AM on May 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

You totally cannot get Molly anymore, nor can you get Kirsten. Lies, all of them.

These were my only dolls growing up and I think I read every one of the books (even for the dolls I never had).
posted by that girl at 9:19 AM on May 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

I was fine with being a Molly, and it was in fact the most accurate in both looks and personality, but I occasionally envied my little sister her Samantha's fancy dresses.

That said, I am apparently slightly too old even for this article, because when it talks about the "original six", a voice in my head wails nooooo, I have only just barely accepted Felicity, there can be only four. Shut up, voice, you are an old lady now and all your AG stuff has gone on to a new generation of your friends' kids who do not care that Felicity was not one of the original three, much less whoever the fifth and sixth ones were, settle down.

I cannot lie - when my mother shipped me a box of all my and my sister's AG stuff, the afternoon I spent sorting out each doll's belongings into the appropriate piles was a great afternoon of nostalgia. I did not have a tea party with them before packing them up into various boxes to ship off to friends' children, but it was a close thing.
posted by Stacey at 10:07 AM on May 22, 2017 [9 favorites]

That was hilarious. Am I the only person who imagined the author as a grown up Louise Belcher ?
posted by Cranialtorque at 10:26 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Now that I’m thinking about this – when I was a kid and was in a lot of shall we say mixed-income classes (ie classes where I was from one of the poorest families), having an American Girl doll or two was one of the clearest markers of which side of the lower-middle-class vs upper-middle-class line you were on. An American Girl doll was almost always found in a house with at least a few of the other telltale signs: a separate sitting room and living room, a finished attic or basement, an above-ground pool, three or more siblings who all have their own bedrooms, etc. There was never actually any class-based bullying in these classes (because we were all nerds so we sort of banded together), and I don’t think we ever even discussed any of this, but it was so immediately obvious that there was no actual need to discuss it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:36 AM on May 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Samantha totally had the best clothes.

"One of my best friends made Harry Potter outfits for her daughter's AG dolls. They were so cute that all their friends wanted them, and now she makes and sells them at craft fairs."

I learned to construct clothing by sewing doll clothes, because you can do it with cheap remnant fabric and if you screw it up you've only lost 4 hours of your life instead of 4 days! Anyway, when people come begging for charity auction items, I'll whip up a hyper-elaborate princess ballgown for American Girl dolls ("or similar 18" dolls!"), they are super-popular.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:22 AM on May 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

My girls' first knitting projects were scarves for their dolls!
posted by padraigin at 11:56 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I discovered quite by accident one day that the old American Girl store in downtown Chicago had the nicest, cleanest, and most never-ever-used mens room in the vicinity, and kept that information to myself. (No washroom attendant. That must be a New York thing.)
posted by lagomorphius at 12:06 PM on May 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

I enjoyed the books enough as a kid that I've read most of the book sets that have come out since then as well. I knew that dolls existed (from the tear out pages at the end of the books) but it was so clear they were for rich kids that it never even occurred to me to ask for one. (I did envy people who could get the girl-sized historical clothing, though.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:46 AM on June 12, 2017

padraigin: "Related, by Caity Weaver: The Best Restaurant In New York Is The American Girl Cafe"

I miss this series so very much.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:20 PM on June 19, 2017

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