Maryellen and Her Collection
So unless you've been living under a rock (at least in the American Girl world), then you've known that Maryellen Larkin was our new historical character, the much requested girl from the 1950s. And she has finally been released. Now I haven't seen any of this in person-I don't live close enough to a store, and since it is only the day after, I can't possibly have received any of it.
Well, here she is in all her stock picture glory! What do I think? I think the doll is very pretty-I like the strawberry blonde hair, kind of like Nellie's hair. The high pony tail is cute, peppy, and very 1950s appropriate. Her eyes are pretty too-they're about the color of my own eyes. She actually looks very much like my grandmother who was a child in the 1950s, which hurts a bit because her death was just a short time ago-I showed her the leaked pictures when they were first coming out.
Of course, I still think they should have used this opportunity to release an Asian historical doll.
The meet outfit? Eh. I don't like the pink and powder blue color combination. I don't hate it, but it isn't my favorite. I kind of feel like this is the meet outfit because Mattel wants to make beaucoup bucks. Otherwise, they probably would have slapped her in the poodle skirt since that was what people were sort of expecting for a 1950s doll. Call it kitsch, but people are going to buy this doll AND the poodle skirt and immediately throw her in the poodle skirt. Me included.
The sweater with the M is cute. The shoes should be white to really go with the outfit. I get that they wanted to make it versatile; I get that black goes with most things. Key word-most. Not this thing.
I don't like these...like at all. I can't even put my finger on it, but they are so frou frou that they even turn me, the queen of girliness, the woman who likes to wear dresses and florals everywhere, off! Too much pastel. Maybe in person?
These are the pajamas and they are adorable! Baby doll PJs are very cute, and very accurate to the period. I love the light apple green and I think it works well on our girl here, what with her light red hair. Green is actually my favorite color (favorite outfit for Felicity-riding habit, Josefina-harvest outfit) and so I was bound to love this.
When I first saw the leaked pictures for this collection, I asked myself, "Where is the holiday outfit?" Yet when I read the descriptions on the American Girl website, it became obvious that this is the Christmas outfit. I want to be clear-I think this outfit is really cute. But this to me feels more like a winter outfit, in much the same way that Caroline (to use a recent example) has a holiday gown and a winter coat thing. Samantha in her BeForever iteration has a plaid Christmas set and a coat set. Maybe this is the time period when people just stopped wearing fancy clothes for the holidays. But if that is the case, then why does the modern line put out a few uber fancy confections every year as their holiday dresses? I hope they'll eventually give her a true holiday dress-maybe they're waiting for the Christmas season to approach and then they'll release it.
Love this outfit! I know everyone thinks it's a stereotype, but it is actually a pretty genuine 1950s fad. The style became popular in the 50s and girls (I say girls-the poodle skirt was more heavily marketed to girls and teenagers than to adult women) wore them both as everyday clothes and to school dances (known then as sock hops). The skirt didn't always have a poodle on it either-the consistent design element was a felt circle skirt with some sort of applique on it.
The design was also easy to make at home which helped make it popular.
Looking through pictures, I have also seen the Eiffel Tower and homages to Elvis Presley. Here is an image to prove that Maryellen needed a poodle skirt in her collection:
That is a ten year old wearing a poodle skirt in 1954. I think people hate on the poodle skirt partially because of the white American (I say American because I am an American-it is possible and perhaps probable that other people in other countries do this too, but I cannot speak on that) tendency to idealize the past. With these rose tinted glasses, the American Revolution was a foregone conclusion and the only choice the brave colonists could make (never mind that many of these colonists were filled with apathy about the whole matter), the Antebellum South was a place of gentility where chivalry took its last bow (never mind that the Cotton aristocrats gained their vaunted social status on the backs of slaves and that the adored southern belles had no rights), and in their turn the 1950s was a time of innocent fun for everyone (never mind segregation still being around in certain places, diseases like polio, and confining gender roles). White Americans look back with longing for yesteryear.
For people of color, I can only imagine that this is maddening (once again, I cannot say for sure). As a woman, it can be aggravating, because the times when women were "protected" and "innocent" were also the times when women had very few options.
This idealization has its symbols (the Mammy figure for the South is an example-see the issues with Aunt Jemima syrup). The symbol for the 1950s Americana idealization is the poodle skirt. Yet this is one place where the symbol isn't necessarily a lie-poodle skirts were popular.
I guess I'll have to read the Maryellen books to see if American Girl idealized it all. To be fair, I believe they did a pretty good job of NOT doing do in the past so I have faith.
I digress. I will be buying this outfit.
This is her birthday outfit. I think I like it, but I would really love to see it in person to see what the fabric looks like. I usually have an issue with shiny fabrics (I hated Caroline's BeForever party gown-gross Elsa knock off), because I think they look cheap, but this looks really lovely. The green kind of tones the shiny down I think. This might end up doubling as her Christmas dress too. Also that headband in her red hair...gah.
I'm a red head (well...my hair is reddish brown) and I'll be the first to say that I look horrible in some colors (reds, pinks, and yellows). But no one looks better than a red head in greens and certain shades of blue.
This might compete with the poodle skirt for my favorite outfit for Maryellen. Purple plaid is a unique take, and I want it. I WANT it...according to my sources (some friends who lived during the period), the outfit is very accurate-a fake blouse "under" the dress was a common trend. So points for accuracy and points for cuteness!
Maryellen would not have worn this to school (women did not wear pants to school apparently) and that is why it is her PLAY outfit...and boy is it adorable. The cherry on the shirt with the matching cherry on the shoes....I would wear this outfit myself. Thank God for women being able to wear pants...it's one of the things I take for granted.
I don't know why the couch/bed annoys me so much...but I feel like Mattel is trying to pull one over on us. I realize that these were...are...popular. For guests. But since when did that mean that regular family members don't have their own bed in their room? Do these people have SO MANY children that their kids have to sleep on the couch? Is that what this is going to turn in to?
Are we going to read a personal life history of the Duggar family? Are we all buying a Michelle Duggar doll?
That would be the final straw with me. I have been around fundamental religious people of every type (well, at least from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic faiths) but I have never, in my entire life, met such a bunch of hypocrites...um. Yeah, this is a doll blog. Ignore me, and back to our regularly scheduled programing.
Maryellen needs to keep her hair looking nice. She can roll it up with the curlers and put the cap on her head. I think this is cute and I like that it matches the PJ set but it isn't very high on my list of priorities right now.
Confession time: I think most (not all-Caroline's calf is cute and Sombrita is okay) of the American Girl animals that are not horses look stupid. The scale is way off and they just look so cheap...like, a Beanie Baby makes a better pet for your 18 inch doll. This...thing...is no exception. Pass.
This is okay. Nothing I love, nothing I hate. I do think it looks very 1950s.
School stuff! I love school things! I need this...but then she needs a desk! I hate this new trend from the company-make accessories but forget making furniture to put them on. Here, have some "bedroom accessories." But no nightstand? Why?!? So I guess we can just put it on the floor? Where does Maryellen sit when she gets taught all of this geography?
Need. It has a little black and white TV with antenna. I like it, I love it, I want some more of it, to quote the cheesy country song.
Big ticket item for Maryellen is the diner, which thankfully isn't *quite* as expensive as the Grace bakery monstrosity. I actually think this is cute, but I doubt I will ever buy it. Who has the space for stuff like this? (Though I do believe this folds down, which is a nice touch). I also know that a lot of people are buying the Target diner and some people even say it is nicer in terms of play value.
But I will buy this jukebox as a stand alone item. It connects to the phone (of course).
I have always been taught that the 1950s was the age that a youth culture became important, as a separate thing from adult culture and children's culture. In other words, the teenage years became a more distinct phase at this time, and teenagers had their own music (as the decade progressed, Elvis as an example), clothes (Poodle skirts), places, etc. I think the jukebox is symbolic of that.
Anyways, I'm excited for this new doll! Now of course I'm gearing up for the holiday releases, the big GOTY reveal (it already looks disappointing), and the 1960s African American historical for next year!