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You are here: Home > Customer Service > 18 Inch Doll Product Info > American Girl ® Doll Lessons

I haven't yet met a girl in the 8-12 year old age bracket who doesn't salivate at the sight of blue spotted boxes.  My own eight year-old practically burst into tears of excitement ater receiving the American Girl© "Marisol" as a surprise gift from a family friend. As Mother's of these doll-loving daughters we are torn.  Every time we see the pile of doll shoes, or the plastic tubs filled with the clothes that won't fit in to the $200 doll trunk, or the American Girl© shampoo on the shower shelf, we struggle with a love/hate relationship.  Here's list of love/hate reasons. 

The Love List

  • American Girl© dolls are gorgeous! These dolls are gorgeous.  I remember the first time I saw an American Girl© doll.  I was a Nanny for a wealthy family in the Hamptons.  We visited another family whose two young daughters’ brought out their very treasured, very well looked-after dolls.  I was a 20 year-old college student at the time yet I spent the remainder of that afternoon ignoring my charges.  Who could resist the steamer trunk with little drawers, coat hangers and hat boxes?  Who could resist the hairstyle potential given the tiny box of styling accessories?  Who could resist the outfits? 
  • American Girl© dolls have an educational aspect. Supposedly.  Prior to the introduction of the "Just Like You" doll every doll was created with an associated historical period.  Theoretically this encourages our dear daughters to learn about history through a historical book series and historically accurate clothing and accessories.  Not.  My daughter who is a voracious reader, she can do a book a night if I forget to tell her "lights out" time, declared the books "boring" after reading two.  The historically accurate accessories? Nope, not too interested in those either.
  • American Girl© dolls encourage imaginary play. We have all read the articles.  There is a proven and direct correlation between dramatic play and success in school and social development. What better to encourage imaginary play than a gorgeous doll and a ton of accessories?  I have to agree with this one. 

The Hate List:

  • American Girl© stuff is expensive! Who can keep up?  A single doll - made in China for $5 I would imagine - costs a staggering $85.  Then it starts.  You can't just have a doll.  You have to have a trunk with little drawers, coat hangers and hat boxes (see The Love List reason #1).
  • American Girl© is a huge contributor to one of the most negative values we are instilling in our children today. Conspicuous consumption.  Back in 1990 when I saw my first American Girl doll those very wealthy children had one doll each.  They knew this doll was special and that they were lucky to have one.  Today my daughter's best friend has six.  Six!  They aren't special when you have six.  Have you ever been to the American Girl store?  My extremely practical and frugal Scottish Mother-in-law got physical ill on our visit to the New York store.  She watched all the little girls storming through the departments and leaving with armloads of red shiny bags and literally had to go outside and get some air.  Is it not terrifying that American Girl© offers a $600 Ritz-Carlton package for a visit to the New York store and parents actually purchase it?

So what is a Mommy to do?  Buy them of course.  They are gorgeous (see The Love List reason #1). Yes they are expensive and yes they encourage questionable values in others, but it doesn't mean the products need to encourage questionable values in your daughter.  I decided long ago that I had lost the fight so I decided to use the dolls as a teaching tool.

The Lesson List:

  • There is such a thing as too much of a good thing! - We taught my daughter that these dolls are special.  We told her how much they cost and translated in to terms she could understand.  Yes - for teh price of one doll you could actually buy 150 chocolate bars and eat a bar of chocolate every day for 5 months!  She knows that she appreciates her dolls much more than her friend who has six.
  • Saving Rocks! - She pined for the doll bed with the attached closet and vanity.  I told her I wouldn't buy it for her.  Evil maybe but I couldn't see spending $160 on a lump of wood and a few stickers.  She saved for it, and I mean really saved.  It took her two Holidays and lots of allowance money but she got it in the end - and couldn't wait to start saving for her next purchase.
  • Beware the power of marketing and branding! - Once she got the saving thing down I took her to the web and showed her how much further her money would go if she weren't blinded by the power of brand.  We actually even had conversations initiated by her as to whether advertising was fair. She gets it, and has become a great bargain hunter for non-branded products to fit her American Girl©.  She is after all working within a very limited budget.

Let's face it.  You love the dolls, you can't escape them.  Make them work for you.

For affordable clothes, shoes, furniture, jewelry and some really cool accessories to fit your American Girl© you can visit Emily Rose - Doll's Clothes & Accessories

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