Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An American Girl Journey

An American Girl Journey
(Or, Liz finds a new way to spend all of her money)
So how did I become an American Girl enthusiast? How did I, a woman in her twenties, decide that I needed a new hobby and that my hobby was going to be AG dolls, of all things?
Well, that's a long and sordid tale....kidding. It's really not that sordid.
So, like many young girls, I began reading the American Girl books in elementary school. I read Meet Josefina at the school library and then my mom helpfully sent in the request form at the back. See, this was before the age of widespread internet usage. No, I got a beautiful, glossy catalogue with so many beautiful pictures of dolls, clothes, and accessories . American Girl knew how to make me want their products...and I wanted them. Bad.

A book that would strike fear into the heart of my mom every time I pulled it out.

And there was my girl-Josefina! Sure, there were others dolls that seemed cool. Kirsten kind of looked like me, Samantha seemed cool with all her girly-frilly clothes (I'm a secret girly girl), Addy had the most exciting story by far...but, for some reason, despite the fact that she was not by any means my "look alike doll" I wanted Josefina, my "act alike" doll. A white blonde girl wanted a Hispanic doll (le gasp!). She was my internal twin you see.
And boy, my mom wanted to buy her. After all, history! Education! Learning about a culture that I would probably have very little access to otherwise! 
But...way too expensive.
Not in the sense that my mom thought she wasn't worth it. I have a lot of rage when I hear about parents saying it's too much to spend that on a doll but will buy video game systems for their kids (just bought a system for my husband with one game and one controller-$450 gone). That crap is expensive! "Dolls don't do anything!" That's the beauty of it, you idiot! Imagination! (Yes, I drew the word out and made a rainbow with my hands like Sponge Bob Square Pants). I also believe that this has a hint of sexism in it. Not that girls can't or don't play video games. However, the target audience is usually boys. So parents will spend all of that money on their sons, but won't buy an expensive doll for their daughter? But then, as soon as the girl hits puberty, for some reason parents are falling all over themselves to buy expensive clothes and make-up. Not always, but enough for me to see it as a trend. Basically, the message is that girls need to grow up as fast as possible.
Okay, rant over. Need to watch that blood pressure Liz...
As a single mom, she just couldn't afford one. I quickly learned to stop asking since I knew she felt bad (see? Like Josefina, I was quiet but very emotionally mature). Yet I kept reading her stories and all the rest-Addy, Samantha, Kit, Kirsten, Kaya, Felicity, all of them. And growing up in a place where the teachers sometimes called the Civil War the War of Northern Aggression in history class, I got a lot out of them.
Fast forward to junior year of college. I'm bored and surfing the web, my favorite activity when I'm postponing life. I randomly decide to look at the American Girl website.

The first thing I feel is utter shock.
Whaaa....? Samantha is gone! And Felicity and Kirsten! Hey! Where'd they go? But there's Josefina, Molly, and Addy. Look at their new stuff! Who are these strangers? Who is this? Julie? Caroline? Oooh...an Asian doll! A Jewish doll!
What is this? Girl of the Year? My American Girl? What madness is this?
But despite all the new bells and whistles, I kept going back to look at my girl Josefina. I wanted her.
But wait...I'm too old for toys....
I make my own money! I can buy what I want!
CC information was entered (albeit into ebay-I was not paying retail!) and she was on her way.
And she was beautiful...I couldn't stop looking at her. I was in love...

My idea of excellent photography back then...unfortunately my skills haven't improved all that much.

Before you knew it, Molly, Emily, and Saige had all arrived at my home. Before you knew it, I had 14 dolls, with various clothes and accessories. The dolls had better clothes than I did.
My husband was torn between distress at the money being spent and joy that present buying would now be so easy for him.
That is how an obsession was born.
P.S. To those who still insist that it was the War of Northern Aggression, I have this message: You lost. Sorry, not sorry, Suck it up, buttercup. Worst things have happened. Like, you know, slavery.

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