american girl samantha

So as I’m still salty about Addy most likely getting retired let’s talk about what American Girl is doing rn

Because I usually try to keep this blog positive but americangirlstar is p*ssed so let’s have a friggin discussion

Here’s the thing with American Girl thus far:

  • They are focusing too much on their Contemporary Dolls

American Girl was created in the 1980s by Pleasant T Rowland. She was inspired by the history around her in Colonial Williamsburg and decided to write a line of books to teach History to girls through girls like them, accompanying them with “beautifully crafted dolls and accessories that fed a girl’s imagination and taught history through the lives of its young heroines.” (American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, page 10) 

Now, remember that. American Girl was created to teach girls history through their dolls and their stories.

Which leads me two the fact that FOUR Contemporary Dolls were released this year.

[Pictured: 2017′s Contemporary Characters, with Tenney Grant, Z Yang and Logan Everett on the top and Tenney Grant, Z Yang and Gabriela McBride on the bottom]

And while it is nice to have a Black Disabled GotY, a Korean Doll and the first boy doll, their stories don’t really teach much except for the usual “be yourself” stuff. 

Also released this year were two BeForevers (half as much as the Contemporary), and one of which was a re-release with NO COLLECTION and the other of which hasn’t been released yet. 

[Pictured: Felicity’s Collection, including the doll, accessories, three books and undergarments; nothing else, which is much less than the other dolls]

That’s not all. Ignoring all the advertising Tenney has gotten with the BeForevers not getting much, what else shows AG’s shift in focus? The movies.

Originally, AG released movies exclusively for their Historical Characters. Samantha’s came first, followed by Felicity and Molly. Kit’s was even released in theaters. (Which I remember, because I went to see it and brought by Nicki doll along too)

After that? Chrissa- the 2009 Girl of the Year- got a movie. Now, by this point, Girl of the Year was kinda a side thing. Yeah, they got cool stuff, but they weren’t overhyped or anything. Chrissa changed this: she was extremely hyped, getting a huge collection, TWO gal pal best friend dolls and a movie. I remember seeing trailers for the Chrissa movie before the doll was even announced to the public: They called it “The Girl of the Year Movie” and it was a big deal. 

After Chrissa, it started to die down a little with Lanie and Kanani, but when McKenna rolled around, for some reason she was also given a movie and big collection. Well, ok, that’s fine, until Saige came out the next year, also with a huge collection and movie. Then Isabelle, and by this point we all kinda realized that American Girl cared WAY more about the GotYs than the Historical Characters. The next BeForever movie didn’t come until 2016, with Melody and Maryellen, both of which were Amazon Prime Exclusive.

Which I guess makes sense from a business standpoint- according to page 14 of the Ultimate Visual Guide, it takes only two years to make a Girl of the Year and three to make a BeForever, since they have to make sure everything is Historically Accurate.

But here’s the thing: it’s not just that the focus is now on hyping up the Girls of the Year. Let me repeat what I said earlier:

Rowland was inspired by the history around her in Colonial Williamsburg and decided to write a line of books to teach History to girls through girls like them, accompanying them with “beautifully crafted dolls and accessories that fed a girl’s imagination and taught history through the lives of its young heroines.”

The way this is stated expresses that the books came first, dolls second. Which brings me to…

  • American Girl seems to be more focused on playing it safe than creating interesting stories… and that’s a problem.

I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t ask for American Girl Dolls every Christmas as a kid because I liked the dolls (though they are beautiful!). I wanted them because I remember the stories. I beggede for Josefina and Kaya because I loved their stories. My sister asked for Kirsten and Addy for the same reason, my little sister can’t talk about the dolls without bringing up how great Felicity’s books are. The reason American Girl has lasted this long is because the stories draw us to the characters, and we relate to the girls. 

I don’t think American Girl understands this.

According to rumors, Samantha and Addy are going to be retired this year. Let’s look at what happens in their stories:

  • Samantha lives in the 1904 Suffragette Period, learning about the Women’s Rights movement, and helps her friend escape poverty and abuse. She learns about Child Labor and speaks out against it.
  • Addy lives in 1864, during the end of the Civil War. She is born a slave, and in the first book she watches her father and brother sold and then escapes with her Mama to the North, where she learns about freedom and tries to bring her family back together.

I could literally write an essay on how important the Addy Doll is (but this post is already to long so tl;dr I’m upset that AG thinks it’s a good idea to retire her). These two aren’t exclusive in their mature storylines: Kirsten’s best friend died on her way to America, Kaya also escapes slavery, Josefina and her family are dealing with grief from her mother’s death, Kit’s books deal with the homeless situation in the Great Depression, etc. 

The thing is these storylines work because they’re not sugarcoated. We want to see a character struggle so we can cheer when they finally succeed. These were also realistic things that would happen to these girls: the girls feel real because real things happen to them.

But here’s the thing. I think American Girl is trying to get away from that, to write “safer” storylines. Look at a newer historical character: Maryellen, from 1954. What happens in her story? Well… she talks about how she had polio once- before the story, and it doesn’t really affect anything until she later tries to get people to vaccinate their kids. Her sister gets married. She wants it to snow on Christmas.

And… that’s about it.

And that’s a reason why the re-focus on the Contemporaries isn’t that great: the Contemporary Dolls have nowhere near as complex storylines. Just looking at the newer ones, Gabriela’s main focus is Poetry and Student Council, Z just likes to make movies, and Tenney gets a freaking record deal at the age of 12-13! How many little girls can relate to getting a record deal? Probably the darkest storyline would be Chrissa getting bullied, which is NOTHING compared to Addy having to escape slavery.

It seems that the refocus is less because the Contemporary Dolls make more money (though they might), and more because their stories are safe. You can’t have soccer moms yelling at you for a GotY who just likes gymnastics and doesn’t have to face racism in the 1860′s. You don’t have to deal with the problems of the past if you can just market to girls who like doll clothes and expensive doll furniture. 

Which is why retiring two of their most significant Historical Dolls seems like a big misstep to me; Samantha tells girls about Women’s Suffrage and Child Labor, Addy tells them about finding freedom and dealing with racism in a crappy society. Retiring them makes it seem like AG’s trying to sweep all that “dark stuff” under the rug. And they can probably argue “Well, we have Felicity to talk about feminism and Melody to talk about anti-segregation.” Well, Felicity is a cool doll with a great storyline, but she doesn’t live in a period of change for women’s right and children’s rights. Melody is a great doll, but her storyline is more focused on her singing- she does experience racism in her life, but she lives in a town that is not segregated: she learns about segregation from her cousin, kind of passively experiences changes instead of taking part in the activity around her. While Addy and Melody are both interesting characters, Addy faces more difficulties and has a much different story than Melody. 

I think I got a bit off track? But my point is basically that American Girl has forgotten that their main draw is their storylines. That’s why a lot of older girls still collect the dolls; we love the stories around them and the characters the dolls represent. But AG is trying much too hard to play the stories safe, and thus the company doesn’t seem as good now.

Seriously, ask a girl who likes AG to tell you about Mia St. Clair. Chances are they won’t tell you much. Ask them who Felicity is, and they’ll get way more into the topic. Because she’s far more interesting!

So, uh, yeah. 

- Mod Samantha

i-cannot-live-without-coffee  asked:

I love your headcanons! I’ll probably spam you frequently. How about Marie-Grace and Cecile, Kit and Ruthie, Samantha and Nellie, Emily, Julie and Ivy, and Chrissa, Sonali, and Gwen?

Marie-Grace and Cecile

  • Listen there’s a lot of discussion of which American Girl is the gayest and while it’s probably not MG and Cece they I think are the closest to being canon
  • Like. Look at this shit
  • GAY
  • “Best Friends” Just call them the Red and Blue Gal Pals we know they are
  • I don’t know if “single” women could adopt orphans in the 1800s (I’m guessing they couldn’t) but I can guarantee you they kept volunteering at the orphanage and consider them all their children
  • Cecile ends up being a lot taller than MG and MG has to stand on her tiptoes to kiss her
  • They both sing the prettiest duets together
  • I feel like Marie-Grace would become a popular singer around the area she lives in, while Cecile would become a writer and poet.

Kit and Ruthie

  • They’re both Bi and in a poly relationship with each other and Stirling
  • Kit and Ruthie have known each other since they were toddlers, and have like a million inside jokes
    • None of which Stirling understand
    • “Hey Kit… watermelon” “WHAT DOES THAT MEAN”
  • Kit does pretty well in writing/reporting, and adopts like a million Basset Hound Puppies
  • “Kit… we can’t keep them all…” “We can and we will
  • Wherever they live they build a treehouse in the backyard if they can
  • Stirling probably volunteered for World War II, but he probably still had his million allergies and wasn’t considered healthy enough
  • If he did go tho Ruthie and Kit send him like a million letters a day
    • A lot of them are “I found another dog and you can’t tell me no”
  • Every time a relative gives Kit a fancy dress as a gift Kit gives it to Ruthie. If neither of them like it they cut it up and sew it into an outfit they would wear, since Kit is not really a spender (for obvs reasons) and so doesn’t have that many outfits anyway

Samantha and Nellie

  • I actually think Nellie might be the previously mentioned gayest doll but Molly also gives her a run for her money
  • Whenever Sam and Nellie are apart they call each other frequently or send letters if they’re really far away
  • Even if they’ve only been apart for like 20 minutes
  • They tend to spend more time outside than inside, and have a lot of picnics in the fields.
  • Nellie also spends a lot of time volunteering to help other orphans at the orphanage. Jenny and Bridget help out when they get older, too.
  • Also Samantha definitely babysat baby Rebecca when she was younger. I will fight for that Headcanon

Emily

  • She keeps in touch with Molly a lot once she’s back in England because she’s gay
  • She sometimes visits her Aunt in America and often stays with Molly while she does
  • In the 1950′s when she comes to visit and she would totally buy those Poodle Skirts she would look great in them
  • She and Linda sometimes team up to prank Molly and it will often go horribly wrong but it’s fun anyway
  • She’ll then turn around and prank Linda with Molly
  • Once she warms up to Molly and her friends she becomes the Prank Queen

Julie and Ivy

  • Julie’s sister Tracy is a lesbian and introduces her to the Gay Rights Movement (which I believe was really big in San Francisco in the 70′s)
  • Tracy has a girlfriend there and her parents are pretty accepting but it takes Julie a while to understand, but she still supports her sister and goes with her to meetings and stuff
  • As she gets older she starts to realize that she likes girls too and is like “… OH”
  • What she doesn’t realize is Ivy has had a crush on her for ages 
  • One time they’re hanging out and Julie is like “Hey Ivy, if I liked girls like Tracy does would you still like me” and Ivy responds by kissing her
  • In 1978 the movie Grease comes out and Julie adores it.
  • She and Ivy go all 50′s aesthetic for a while and they sing “You’re the One That I Want” to each other all the time
  • “Single” Parents were allowed to adopt children by the 1970′s (I literally just googled it now) so Ivy and Julie probably both adopted once they were older
  • Julie continues playing basketball forever and teaches both her kids and the neighborhood kids how to play, often acting as a Coach

The world needs strength and courage,
And wisdom to help and feed–
When, “We, as women” bring these to man,
We shall lift the world indeed.

Samantha Parkington - 1900s Mount Bedford, New York
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