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American Girl Dolls’ New “Boy World” for the Truly Me Line

29 Nov

Hello readers! Welcome back! This is for my fellow American Girl fans out there!

Rumor has it in the American Girl community that American Girl is planning on releasing boy dolls as an option in their Truly Me line. This group of boys will be in a section called “Boy World”. These dolls are said to be scheduled for release sometime in 2018. Some say they will arrive as early as December 26, 2017.

As we’ve seen with ALL the releases American Girl has had so far, we know that most of the rumors in the American Girl community turn out to be legit. Either American Girl is secretly reading all the suggestions made on social media and in message boards, or these people who have started these rumors seriously do have connections. Nanea was just a rumor last year, and come to fruition. Maryellen was a rumor, and was released. Back in 2001, Rebecca was a rumor, and was released in 2009. Yes, it’s safe to say there aren’t really any rumors in the American Girl circle. Most of the information we get are LEAKS.

So, when I heard this rumor, and saw the receipts, I froze. I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t surprised. But I felt odd; I felt this sudden wave of FEAR. Yes, I’m very much intimidated by this supposedly small fraction of Truly Me dolls that includes a section of BOYS. My feelings towards a boy line are bittersweet overall. The fears I have about it keep me bitter, the children who are excited for this keep me sweet.

For the last couple of years, since AMERICAN BOY was trademarked back in 2012 (?), I thought I could just ignore it. It wouldn’t affect me. In fact, I was pretty excited about it back then. In my mind back then, I just didn’t have to buy it if I didn’t like it, right?

Later, I began talking with other American Girl fans who opened my mind to some of their thoughts on the matter. I began to question whether it truly was a good move…Read my article ‘Should American Girl Sell Boy Dolls?’

When Logan was released, the best friend to Contemporary character Tenney and the first boy doll from the brand (well if you don’t include the Bitty Twins), I thought maybe this would just be a one-time thing or, at the least, even occasional. I had hoped it wouldn’t become very popular. I expressed why during the release of Tenney and Logan. Logan, for me, was a disappointment in many ways, so it really didn’t make me very excited for future boy doll releases.

But now that it’s happening…Now that my worst fear is happening, I realized that I can’t sock it at Mattel through my wallet, like I thought I could. No, that’s no longer enough. It’s not enough because there are too many people who support the inclusion of boy dolls in the American Girl brand. And that fact makes me completely petrified at the future of this doll brand. What is now the culture of the American Girl fandom? Is the fandom no longer filled with the same people who fought for a “girl’s space” in a world where we didn’t have many female heroes or honorable mentions in history? In a world that still finds males more interesting than females in much of the storytelling written and told? In a world where men still don’t understand why we have female lead characters in movies like Star Wars: Rogue One because they just “can’t relate to a girl”?

Fans upset at another female lead in Star Wars: Rogue One

What are they trying to accomplish by releasing a boy doll, let alone a whole line, to a brand that was supposed to empower girls?

It’s obvious to me now that Logan must have been selling well. In fact, Logan has pretty much out-shined his own “best friend” in most of the press releases. He was sold out in Washington D.C.’s American Girl store throughout much of 2017. It seemed like every time I called to inquire about him, he was sold out.

In fact, Logan took the place of Gabriela, 2017’s Girl of the Year, and the first African-American Girl of the Year at that, in the front display windows of most of the American Girl stores. I’m sure his sales are higher than hers as a result. Not only is she at a disadvantage because she’s black, but gosh, she’s also a girl. Her mold has been used and done before in Truly Me. Logan has Kaya’s mold, but in a “whiter” color, which makes it, I guess, a little more unique. It must look cuter on a boy. Being a girl in this brand is just not as unique as being a boy. Being black just makes Gabby…well, ugly. She couldn’t stand a chance against this hunky brunette boy named Logan. I mean, Logan gives girls the opportunity to ship cutie Tenney with a boy for once (not that no one wasn’t it doing it with Felicity and Ben, but you get the point).

If you can’t smell my sarcasm and cynicism by now, you never will.

Just like in the real world, life is not driven by black american girls. They are driven by white american boys. American Girl has suddenly become a reflection of just what we see in our very real world…

For the last couple of articles about American Girl, I really haven’t said too many positive things about American Girl lately. My praise of American Girl has declined since the transformation of American Girl’s historical line to “Beforever”. And it’s then when I began to see all the little flaws that irked me tremendously.

So far, I’ve tried to be fair, even if I didn’t agree with the directions American Girl has taken over the years. I’ve tried to be understanding. But every year I feel that disappointment, more and more of it, and it drains any passion I’ve had for this brand. I’m seriously at the point where I’ve been excited for a doll’s retirement because it meant that American Girl didn’t have the opportunity to screw whichever doll’s collection over.

I have always respected this brand, and I held on to this brand because I believed in its message. I believed that history was important. I believed that girls should know what they have done to help the world or should at least have role models that inspire them to do more. American Girl inspired me when I was a little girl in the 1990s.

Now, I’m adult. As an adult, really, I shouldn’t have any say on what a doll line is supposed to be. After all, these toys are for this generation’s children. Still, as an adult collector, and a true lover of American Girl dolls, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed after the latest news. I’m not disappointed with American Girl, LLC, not with Mattel, but at the fandom who drove the company to even consider creating this line of boy dolls.

It’s not all bad though. Don’t get me wrong. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I understand all the reasons why American Girl has created a boy doll and why they want a “Boy World”, and those reasons alone make me feel more positive about this new idea. The intentions are pure.

For one,  I am interested in the idea behind including boys in the world of dolls, especially in a high-profile doll brand such as American Girl. Introducing these boy dolls into the lines offered can help girls understand boys better. It’s different liking what boys do (like girls may with male Marvel superheroes) versus understanding boys. If done correctly, boy characters and dolls in a brand like this, a brand that focuses on the thoughts and feelings of everyday children, could open a gate for teachable or educational moments, moments that help girls understand the world of boys. It can introduce girls to a different type of world for boys, other than the violent and rough one. Of course, this is IF IT’S DONE CORRECTLY.

Unfortunately I don’t have much faith that American Girl, LLC, and overall Mattel, can do this correctly. But we shall see.

A second pro to the inclusion of boy dolls is that this could be a stepping stone to getting boys interested in dolls, or at least not being ostracized or bullied when they are interested. There are actually quite a few boys already interested in the American Girl characters and dolls. If more companies began offering boy dolls, people wouldn’t see “dolls” as a girl thing. Of course, having the Ken doll didn’t stop dolls from being seen as a “girl toy”. But again, IF DONE CORRECTLY, American Girl could truly make a gender-neutral brand of dolls, which would be ground-breaking on many levels.

The third pro is that boys who are interested in American Girl will now have a doll that at least resembles them. Though sure, a boy shouldn’t need a “boy doll” to be interested in a brand that appears directed to girls. But just having a face, just having that representation can be important for some little boys who want a doll that looks like them. It’s important when they are playing with their little friends or their siblings or their cousins. It helps them relate to the toy better.

Having it in Truly Me is probably the best step forward, and personally it’s where I think the boy inclusion should end (though I’m not against a separate Beforever or Boy of the Year line for boys). Truly Me allows children and collectors to pick any doll they want, to dress them any way they want, and to decide their story. These boys don’t have to be just modern boys. If someone wants to make them historical, they can be. Of course, American Girl isn’t offering any male historical fashions yet, but Kit had a cute pair of overalls in her collection and Felicity had some breeches that could work on a boy doll from the past, if anyone is interested in the secondary market, like eBay. Besides, you can dress your boy dolls in any of the outfits available if the child prefers a non-binary look. And custom outfits at home are an option, too. It seems American Girl wants to jump on the boy doll market, especially since people were already making custom boys out of their dolls anyway.

custom American Boy doll

One more positive thing about this is the fact that there will be many molds and hair textures, creating a diverse range of options. Boys of color don’t really have that many super hero action figures in their image. In fact, few toys directed at boys are black, brown, yellow, or any other color but the pinkish-white that’s often considered the default. The Truly Me line is offering something rare in the 18″ doll market, though the My Life dolls beat American Girl to it.

I imagine this whole release is to compete with the My Life dolls…and personally, I believe American Girl’s future decisions will be based on their competition. After all, My Life dolls are cheaper, which makes them more appealing and affordable to parents during the holiday season.

Despite all the good that this boy line could do for the toy industry, both originally and socially, I have many concerns with it.

I am a skeptic by nature, I’ve come to accept this part of myself. I worry and question everything. When it comes to things I like, I am hesitant when people decide to implement changes that I’m not comfortable or familiar with. I worry how the changes will affect the brand.

Concern 1: Will introducing Boy dolls take boys away from relating to girl dolls and characters?

Sure, I understand American Girl’s mindset, the fact that they want to encourage others to recognize that boys can play dolls too, and so it seems that the logical thing to do would be to introduce boy dolls into the brand. But should a boy need a “boy doll” to get interested in the American Girl brand?

Girls don’t need a girl character to get interested in Marvel’s superheroes (though they’ve released girl dolls, but it wasn’t necessary to get girls interested in Marvel). Plenty of girls loved Harry Potter books, even though the story is male-driven. So why should boys need a boy character to relate to American Girl?

Boys should be encouraged to admire toys of all kinds, art of all kinds, even if the image on the cover is that of a girl. Boys should be encouraged to admire any character’s strengths, regardless of their gender. Why can’t boys admire and look up to girls as much as girls admire and look up to boys?

And let’s be honest, girls do look up to boy characters a lot. Women will deny being into dolls before they’ll deny being into action figures because boy toys are considered “cool” while girl toys are considered “weak” or “lame” or “babyish”.

I think it’d be great if a boy can find a girl doll or character that relates to him. Kit is pretty popular among boys because she does just that, but she doesn’t have to be a boy to relate to boys. When boys read stories like hers, they can connect and discover that girls don’t feel any different from them. And isn’t that more of American Girl’s goal? To put girls out there more? To help the world understand girls? It shouldn’t be to help girls understand boys. There’s plenty out there that can help girls understand boys. But few stories do what American Girl stories do, and few dolls represent the message that girls can do important things and inspire others with their positive actions. How many stories give such realistic portrayals of girls in ways all children can understand?

For this reason, I fear that American Boy dolls will give boys a reason to overlook the girl dolls, as if they don’t have anything valuable to offer or teach boys.

Concern 2: What would happen if the success of these boy lines encourage American Girl, LLC to start creating more boy characters in the brand? Should the boy dolls be treated as accessories to the girls or should American Girl seek to give them their own lines?

This is a trickier question, one that I proposed five years ago when AMERICAN BOY was first trademarked. So far, American Girl has already decided to go the “best friend” route, the route I was especially against when it came to American Girl. It seems they also might try some customization with the boys in Truly Me. Which I’m okay with.

I’m not against the boys being in Truly Me. I’m happy with them right there.

I won’t be okay if American Girl starts making boy friends for the Beforever characters or the Girl of the Year. My issue is that the boys may steal the attention from some of the girls in the brand, like what Logan has done to Gabriela and his “friend” Tenney, even if they are just accessories. The girls of color would be at the greatest disadvantage, as they already struggle for attention against the white American Girl dolls. Now, they would have to compete with the boy dolls, too!

And yet, with the success of Logan, I believe the best boy friend concept will be reintroduced in the near future. It won’t stop until the novelty of boy dolls stop.

I would personally like the boys to have their own separate lines in a completely different section called AMERICAN BOY, as trademarked. I’ve talked to many fans that don’t like this idea. I’ve asked them why. Most just don’t want the boy line to compete with the girl line. They don’t want the American Boy books to show more history with male-driven characters, as it’s so often portrayed that way. They feel it would take away the symbol of American Girl. Truly, it wouldn’t be American Girl anymore, in their opinion.

I agree that the competition for importance would be a factor. However, I believe that having a separate American Boy line, with maybe a variety of different characters and outfits, but not so extravagant like the girls, would be a good way to implement boy dolls without them outshining the girl dolls. After all, most of the little people who walk in the AG stores are little girls, and little girls tend to be drawn to little girl dolls.

Of course, there would still be the issue of honoring boys in “women’s spaces”, a space set aside to honor girls that never had a place in history books, on movie screens, in literature, and in the present working world.

Concern 3: Will having “gendered” outfits limit the fluid fashion expression of the girl characters? Are boys the only ones capable of having short hair and wearing baggy pants? What clothing and accessories will define the “boys’ line”?

As someone who loves androgynous fashion, I couldn’t help wondering why Logan couldn’t be a girl. And hard as I’ve tried to pretend that Logan is, after reading about his story, I just couldn’t put that into my imagination. I guess I’m not that creative?

There doesn’t seem like there will be any stories with the release of these new “Boy World” dolls. Still, how is it going to be defined separately from the girls? For me, I don’t understand why the first dolls we get with bowl cut or pixie cut hair dos have to be boys. This just made me realize how much American Girl lacks in terms of diverse gender expressions. Sure, we have tomboys like Felicity and Kit, but few modern characters have the same expression they do, and even Lissie and Kit wore dresses and such most of the time (considering the time, it wasn’t their fault).

In our modern world, we have all kinds of ways to express womanhood, and not all of it is in a dress, ballerina flats, and pink hair streaks. Some of us like to wear out hair really short. Some of us like our clothes baggy instead of hugging us. Some of us like bland colors like brown and black and green.

With this new “Boy World”, will the lines between what is boy and girl be set? With the boy dolls now, there’s no chance a true tomboyish character could be released. They’d be associated with the “boy’s collection”.

And how are we going to define this boy line when it comes to items and accessories? With basketballs? STEM items? Items it took years for the girls to get?

Are we going to stereotype the boys by shoving them with most of the sports attire or the science attire? Truly, what defines a “Boy’s World”?

I’m curious to see what that will mean in the American Girl brand.

Concern 4: Is it necessary to “create diversity” by adding boy characters, especially when we don’t even have a diverse range of female characters yet?

As mentioned before, American Girl doesn’t even have a diverse range of gender expressions among girls yet. How can they seek to bring representation to boys when they haven’t even represented all the girls yet?

How revolutionary it would’ve been if Logan had been a girl! I would’ve been more tempted to buy Logan (it’s the face mold that still turns me off). I guess I can buy him and still pretend, but the fact that he comes with a back story and everything kind of kills the imagination for me.

It’s more necessary to make more characters of color, something American Girl is also seriously lacking. They don’t have any Asian American Beforever characters with their own line and series (Ivy was a sidekick, and so was not important in my honest opinion). They’ve only had ONE African-American Girl of the Year character. They don’t even have any Muslim characters (Leyla, from the Girls of Many Lands, was the last one from the brand, and she wasn’t an 18″ doll). They’ve only had one 18″ Indian doll, none from Pakistan or Iran or any other group. We don’t even have a Native American, or indigenous, Girl of the Year!

And yet, Logan gets his chance to shine? Nu uh. There are far more role models out there for boys. American Girl doesn’t have to offer boy dolls for boys to have options. They find these options in toys, video games, literature, history books, and in LIFE. I just finished watching the Hey Arnold movie. He’s a pretty good role model for boys, and American Girl didn’t have to be around for him to exist.

Concern 5: Is it okay for the boy dolls to share the same mold as girl dolls?

This might seem like a silly concern (well my whole rant about a bunch of dolls might seem silly to most of you), but I believe having boys carry on some of the girls’ molds would hurt the sales and perception of the girls. A lot of times, what is considered masculine is considered “ugly” on a girl. But if it were placed on a boy, it might be deemed more “attractive”.

Take the Addy mold for example. There are a lot of people who don’t like the Addy mold and they think she looks masculine. That’s people’s perception of black women anyway, but they will project that perception off on the doll. If a male were to have that exact mold, they might find it looks “better” on him.

I’ve heard some people say that Kaya’s mold looks better on Logan than on her! It’s not fair to her. She was designed with that specific mold because it fit with her culture and time period. For Logan to appropriate her mold is just an outrage!

My other concern is that these dolls would end up being considered ugly by girls because they share the same mold as the boy dolls. Though it shouldn’t matter, the opinions of these girls can greatly affect the success of the dolls. I mean, we shouldn’t think anyone is ugly, and so we shouldn’t find characters’ dolls to be ugly, just because they have more masculine faces. But how can anyone really change the way a kid feels?

Black girls already get called masculine and ugly by some of their peers. Do they really need to see that Addy shares a mold with a Truly Me boy doll?

I know this is a lot to talk about, and all just for some child’s plaything. I guess it bothers me because American Girl dolls have always meant a lot more to me than the average doll line. I’ve collected a lot of dolls, but American Girl was always the diamond in the rough. This brand brought a new kind of representation to the toy industry, and changed my perception of what a girl could and couldn’t do. I believe it’s why I’m able to be so independent to this day. I know I don’t have to follow the crowd. I know I don’t need to be married by 30. I know my role is not just to be a loving wife and mother. I know there’s more for me out there. And American Girl dolls, among other things, helped me discover that at a young age. I can’t deny that it was a contributing factor.

Perhaps we shouldn’t politicize toys, or make them into a social issue. But some toys can be great tools for promoting positive and encouraging messages. I think it’s important to create toys that have a purpose than to just have kids play with toys meaninglessly. But when we do create toys with a purpose, it’s important to remember the message sent when selling them.

This is why the imagery this company dishes out is so very important. These images really do influence the little girls who play with them, especially because there are books that accompany the dolls. That’s why American Girl has a responsibility to make sure the images they produce really do bring honor to girls.

This is why what American Girl produces is important to me. This isn’t just some flimsy underground brand. American Girl is a brand that has the power to influence girls. I just hope that American Girl uses that power wisely.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the new rumored “Boy World”! Are you for it or against it? Are you concerned? If you are, do you share my same concerns or do you have some of your own? Let’s discuss!

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American Girl’s Native Hawaiian doll, Nanea Mitchell from the 1940s, Has Arrived!

5 Aug

For those of you who don’t know, American Girl is a brand that produces a line of wholesome and family-friendly dolls centered on encouraging girls to be the best they can be and to make their mark on history. Pleasant Company originally produced the American Girl collection in 1986 with their line of historical dolls as the focus, now called Beforever. Soon, the brand was sold to Mattel, creators of the Barbie doll, and it has expanded since then to include Bitty Baby, Wellie Wishers, Girl of the Year, and other contemporary and historical lines throughout the years since it’s been around.

Lately, American Girl has been pushing for “diversity” in their brand of dolls. Earlier this year, the first African American Girl of the Year  , Gabriela, was released followed by American Girl’s first boy doll. Z Yang, a young Korean filmmaker, was also added to the group.

And finally a new doll was added to the Beforever lineup: Nanea Mitchell, a native Hawaiian girl from 1941, during the early WWII era.

I’ve done write-ups on the dolls before, if you want to check those articles out. –>Check it out here.

To promote the new 1941-1942 Native Hawaiian American Girl doll, American Girl has allowed all of their “Rewards” members early access to the doll! That’s right. Instead of waiting until the end of the month, AG Rewards members will receive their Nanea as early as this week!

Many AG Rewards members received their Nanea on August 1st, and already there are reviews everywhere of her. American Girl fans who have been excited for her arrival were surprised when American Girl bumped up her release for their active consumers.

And Reward members weren’t just getting a doll. Oh no. They received a collection.

What is AG Rewards?

 

It is just like any rewards membership you get with any retail store. The more you buy, the more points you get. Attending American Girl events can also give you points.

It’s free to join.

It’s kind of difficult to find on the main website. But you can access it by going to the “Shop” page, clicking “Sign in/Register” at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Or you can access it by going to the “Shop” page or “Stores” page, scrolling all the way to the bottom, clicking “About American Girl”, which then gives a drop-down menu that includes “AG Rewards”.

You must be 18 years or older to join, so kids should ask their parents first.

Other F.A.Q.s are listed on the page if you scroll down.

But don’t expect to get Nanea just because you decided to be a member today. You had to have accumulated 350 points or more (Gold status and Berry status) to be able to get the doll and her collection.

The doll and her collection run about $216 for pre-order. Nobody over my way can afford that right now, but happy days to the rest of ya’ll who can.

What was included in the Nanea collection?

Included in the collection are the doll in her Meet outfit, some accessories that go along with it, a hula outfit with some floral accessories, her Pjs, and her cute little dog.

There are videos out now from people who received their collection. I haven’t gotten anything yet. :/

One of the best videos I’ve seen has been lead by a very intelligent and bright child.

 

Another great video is by the Youtuber American Girl Ideas.

After watching the videos, I have my own review.

My Review

Nanea’s Meet Outfit and Accessories

I’ve already seen it a thousand times already. But I never really gave my opinion on it until now.

Nanea’s Meet outfit comes with a pake “Teatimer” blouse that became really popular in the 1940s and 1950s.

More searches on “Teatimer” blouses

She also arrives with sailor-inspired moku shorts. She has crisscrossed strap sandals. She has a bag/purse that can turn inside-out to match her outfit. And she has a blue-white shell necklace to tie it all together.

I love the color and style of the “Teatimer” top as well as the cute little shorts. But I’m not sure I like everything together. For some reason, it just seems like the jewelry and handbag are off with the outfit. The red in the shirt is the only color that pops. The blue with it isn’t doing it for me. The blue is nice too on its own. But it doesn’t seem like there’s enough to go with the red in her shirt.

But separately, everything looks really appealing. The doll itself looks stunning. Yet, I don’t know why they saw the need to paint the ends of her eyes. Was that to make it look more slanted than it was supposed to look?

Regardless, I personally appreciate the historical emphasis put into the wardrobe. I was especially interested in her Meet items.

Some other Meet items include a letter from one of her best friends, Donna, and an envelope. I read a bit about Donna, but there will be no spoilers from me. 😉 We can see Nanea’s address on the front of the envelope. This friend Donna lives in California …I’m assuming Donna’s family moved after the events of Pearl Harbor, December 1941.

Nanea’s Meet accessories also come with two $1.00 bills with HAWAII printed on the back. This is a very historical detail. Right after the Pearl Harbor attack (so these accessories have to have been related to events that took place in 1942), dollar bills were issued with a Hawaiian print. This was so the US could distinguish the money during a Japanese invasion, if such were to happen. If an invasion were to happen, the Japanese could seize millions of dollars from institutions on the island. But with the Hawaii print, the USA could easily declare the money useless since the notes weren’t actually the legal currency of the nation. It was like making a bunch of fake dollar bills for people so the Japanese wouldn’t still the real ones.

All  “bank notes” that were not stamped had to be turned in. Hawaiian residents were not allowed to use any other form of currency unless they had permission.

History on the Hawaiian Bank Note

So far, the most interesting parts for me about the Meet stuff are the accessories. I like everything else, but the other items just adds to the overall historical and story experience, which is something I appreciate about American Girl. The letter in its envelope kind of reminds me of the American Girl’s “adventure” books. You know, like Kit’s Railway Adventure? Samantha’s Ocean Liner Adventure? Molly’s Route 66 Adventure? I loved those books so much.

The Hula Outfit and Accessories

Sigh. I am not shocked, but mildly disappointed. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from Nanea. It’s an era I’ve already collected so much for (because I’ve had Molly, one of the original dolls, since 1997, and have shopped around for off-brand WWII items for her). The things that make her different from Molly deal with her culture, the unique setting, and the extra floral prints.

But I was sort of hoping for maybe a more authentic Hula dress that was less…I don’t know…stereotypical?

I thought it was bad enough that Molly’s perception of Hawaii was the grass skirts (to add Molly’s mom thought it was a good idea to be a hula dancer for Halloween, but this was the 1940s).

But having a “native” Hawaiian girl perpetuate the same stereotypes as Molly almost gives off a worse vibe. This doll could be a gateway for little girls to learn more about Hawaiian culture and history.

When girls see Molly, they know she is just an ignorant white girl who doesn’t know any better. But when they see Nanea, they will think that she really is what she’s advertised as: a “Hawaiian” girl.

So, something a little less stereotypical would’ve been nice. Where was the advisory board when this was designed?

This is not to say there were no hula outfits with ti-leaf skirts being designed in the 1940s. The ti-leaf skirts may have been more common in the late 1800s and early 20th century, but they had them in the 1940s, too.

Before more hula skirts were being made with cotton, hula skirts were often made from raffia fibers. But originally, in the 1800s and before, Hawaiian ladies would just wear the skirts-and nothing else.

Because white missionaries wanted to spread their morality and religion, the style of clothing for the hula changed. It had to so it could fit the current “moral codes”. The dance was banned sometime before the 1940s because of the movement of the dances, the different spiritual undertones, and how “scantily clothed” the dancers appeared.

But by Nanea’s time, hula had moved beyond a traditional spiritual ritual and had become more of an art form. Girls by the 1940s wouldn’t have flounced around in grass skirts all the time. They often wore colorful skirts that may have been made from simple cotton. Then again, if they were trying to appeal to tourists in the 1940s, they may have used the grass skirts instead. Still, there were other styles that I wish had been made for Nanea.

The true evolution of the hula outfits have yet to be elaborated on by any entertainment mediums presented to children. And American Girl joins the other bulk of companies that fall into capitalizing off of the stereotypes.

Perhaps someone should’ve looked up the various different outfits hula dancers wear. Even girls today could provide better and more accurate examples of what is appropriate for hula. And it’s certainly not always grass skirts. Maybe they didn’t want Nanea looking so close to Kanani, but Kanani’s Luau outfit looks more unique than Nanea’s “hula” outfit.

Kanani Luau dress

Today, the hula is mostly done for entertainment and to embrace Hawaiian heritage and culture. Many Hawaiians do still wear the raffia skirt. But wouldn’t it have been refreshing if American Girl had gone a little deeper?

But no. I wasn’t shocked they didn’t. It was exactly as I expected. Still, I was disappointed that they met my low expectations with this outfit.

I prefer the Holoku dress on the cover of her second book.

And from the look and feel of the hula outfit and the accessories, it just seems cheap and lazy. I know doll companies are struggling, but come on. Any time the lei and floral accessories and outfit are worse than Kanani’s, we’ve got a problem. Even the kid in the video can feel it!

The historical line of dolls should be of higher quality than the contemporary dolls. People can get away with wearing plastic everything nowadays. Nanea’s outfit is supposed to reflect the 1940s. Plastic was rationed! I understand the floral accessories can’t be too real because then the flowers could wither and die without proper care. But it should at least look and feel real. It’s just unacceptable.

Sure, Kanani’s doll came out years ago when American Girl could afford to make high-quality items. The doll industry is really suffering nowadays. Mattel might be losing two of its biggest doll lines of the decade (Monster High and Ever After High) and may not be able to bounce back from that. But it still would’ve been nice if there was some effort to be original or different.

The top that goes with the skirt is nice, but Nanea has enough red in her Meet outfit to go around. And it kind of makes it look like a tropical version of Molly’s “costume”.

The “strapless” look of the hula top kind of reminds me of Disney’s Moana, but okay.

Overall, again, Nanea looks good in the hula outfit once everything is put on her. But the look of it is better than the overall quality. It’s like having food on the table that looks better than the taste.

Nanea’s Pajamas and Mele the Dog

The pajamas are cute. They kind of seem to relate to modern fashion styles. This isn’t to say this style wasn’t popular in the 1940s, but I can see how it can be pretty trendy for today, too. American Girl presenters said on facebook that Nanea’s outfits were sort of designed to be “timeless” where girls could mix and match some of her 1940s outfits with modern outfits.

Presenters

While that’s thoughtful and all, I’m not too on board with the idea of mixing the contemporary styles with those of the past. I enjoy the authenticity of the historical line, and quite frankly I find the modern outfits to be something I can find at my local target from another popular 18″ doll line.

But overall, I find the pjs to be okay. They look soft and comfy and I would like a pair for myself.

Mele is cute as a button. I love that doggy!

Overall, her collection seems okay. I’m not as into the outfits as I am the accessories this time around. But I’m glad this dress was released!

Some fans have gotten hold of Nanea’s family market!

1.Once again, the items are the most interesting part of Nanea’s collection for me. I’m seeing some Victory Garden stickers. XD Flashbacks of Molly comes to mind.

2.  I do see a sticker asking people living in Hawaii to donate their empty bottles. TRIVIA: The war brought a shortage of bottles on the island. This is probably when “recycling” really took off the ground. People were encouraged to bring their empty bottles, which were often glass, back for further use. Milk bottles used to be delivered to people by a milkman in glass bottles instead of people going to the store to purchase them in cartons.

3. Did you see how cheap stuff was in the 1940s? Jello….5 cents!

4. The first edition of the Honolulu Star newspaper!

5. The canned spam and the rice bags are two of my favorite items. Canned became a favorite in Hawaii when the army men and air force, the GIs, fell in love with it. It didn’t require refrigeration and had a long shelf life. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Menuism/why-do-hawaiians-love-spam-so-much_b_1901306.html

Hormel shipped over 100 million pounds overseas.

6. There’s beautiful fabrics! I wonder if any are truly long enough to make doll clothes with…

 

 

Check out the rest of Nanea’s items!

I love the rest of Nanea’s collection. Really time-period ready!

Learn more about her at americangirl.com!

*************************************************************************************

I hope I don’t sound too disturbed in some parts of the article. But I’ve been put-off from her since I found out I wasn’t going to be learning about a new era and was revisiting the 1940s. Forgive my skepticism. I’m trying to be fair.

I was also put off when I found out she isn’t really fully “Native Hawaiian”. She’s also not really fully a “doll of color” because like all the other Asian/Pacific Islander dolls from American Girl, one of her parents are white. I supposed that’s to make her “prettier”.

But it is more realistic for a Hawaiian girl to be mixed in the 1940s. Few islanders were fully Hawaiian by the 1940s. And even fewer are today.

Oh well. I guess it’s better we get some history on Hawaii now than not at all.

That’s my review of Nanea’s collection. What do you all think? Do you like everything you see? Are you impressed? Are you disappointed? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

 

American Girl’s Girl of the Year 2017: Gabriela McBride! + ‘Girl of the Year 2017’ Is Set To Last More Than A Year!

31 Dec

In West Philadelphia, born and raised

On the playground is where I spent most of my days…

You readers like that ‘Fresh Prince‘ reference right there?

That’s the first thing that came to mind when I heard about American Girl’s newest Girl of the Year 2017.

If you don’t know what American Girl is:

American Girl is a premium brand for girls and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT, www.mattel.com), a creations company that inspires the wonder of childhood. Headquartered in Middleton, WI, American Girl offers an inspiring world of dolls, content, and experiences that nourish a girl’s spirit and help develop her strength of character. Best-selling lines include Truly Me™, Girl of the Year™, Bitty Baby™, WellieWishers™, and the classic historical character line BeForever™. The company sells products through its award-winning catalogue, on americangirl.com, in its proprietary U.S. experiential retail stores, and at select specialty retailers nationwide. Outside of the U.S, American Girl products are sold in specialty boutiques at select Indigo™ and Chapters™ in Canada and El Palacio de Hierro locations in Mexico City. By inspiring girls to be their best, American Girl has earned the loyalty of millions and the praise and trust of parents and educators.

If you’re a fan of the American Girls, but have been out of the American Girl loop for awhile, you probably don’t know why I made that reference in the introduction. Let me introduce to you GABRIELA MCBRIDE.

girl-of-the-year

Gabriela is a true talent who gets creative for a cause. She is considered a quiet, creative girl growing up in a family of artists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (exactly why I made that Fresh Prince reference). Her mother is especially passionate about the performing arts. Her mother is founder and director of the arts center Gabriela loves and her dance instructor.

Gabriela is also interested in the performing arts (particularly tap, hip-hop, and ballet) and poetry. Aside from dancing and poetry, Gabriela also helps run a sandwich shop.

Gabriela has a reason she’s so quiet: She struggles with stuttering.

In the first book, Gabriela is said to be “going into the 6th grade”. Still not sure of her age, but she may be the “oldest” Girl of the Year produced.

Gabriela is a true creative talent who uses the power of poetry to help her break down barriers and overcome a personal challenge with stuttering.

Gabriela inherited a love of the arts from her parents, especially her mother, but spoken word poetry is becoming her own passion. Although Gabriela often finds herself in a battle with her own words because of her stuttering, she discovers that her poetry, filled with wit and honesty, helps her speech flow more easily and gives her the confidence to find her voice to help save her beloved community arts center from being torn down.

American Girl Press Release

Despite Gabriela’s struggles, she’s still witty, honest, and courageous!

Her book cover and synopsis are out. Are you ready? {insert drumroll}

gabriela-book-1

Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Yes, believe it. Finally, finally American Girl has released their first African American Girl of the Year character!

After seeing the name Gabriela trademarked, most assumed the character would be of Latin/Hispanic heritage. It turns out it was set aside for an African American character.

Gabriela is set to have a series of FOUR books (yes, four, 4). The first book will be out in January. The next one comes out in March. The other two will be released throughout the rest of the year.

Book synopsis 1: Gabby loves expressing herself — especially in the dance studio — but lately, poetry is becoming her art form of choice, and for good reason: Gabby struggles with stuttering, and spoken word poetry helps her speech flow more freely. Still, compared to how confident she feels on the dance floor, speaking up can be scary. When the city threatens to close her beloved community arts center, Gabby is determined to find a way to help. Can she harness the power of her words and rally her community to save Liberty Arts?

Teresa E. Harris is the author and it is her first time writing for American Girl.

*This will be updated as more information is released.

And now, what all American Girl fans have been waiting for…

The reveal of the doll!

 

melodys-pjs

More items and one of her books will be available Spring 2016.

Gabriela’s doll is really adorable in these pictures, but…

This is where my excitement diminishes. I came to the realization that she’s not just a doll of color. I came to the realization that if I look beyond her color, I have very mixed feelings…

 

Gabriela McBride is considered by many of the American Girl Fan Community to be the LAST GIRL OF THE YEAR.

For those who don’t know, there have been rumors that American Girl plans on ending the Girl of the Year line after Gabriela (possibly to make room for their rumored Contemporary line). I’m not sure how true the rumors are, but it is a FACT that there will be changes to the Girl of the Year line in 2018.

In American Girl’s press release, they stated:

Additional Gabriela products and books will be available starting in spring 2017, and—for the first time—the new Girl of the Year collection will be available for a full 12 months and beyond.

On facebook, American Girl has confirmed that they have plans to release their next girl of the year in 2018. So does this mean Gabriela will be available along with the new Girl of the Year?

American Girl said they don’t have plans to retire the GOTY line, but they’ve been known to hold back from revealing a retirement or archival before.

american-girls-message

 

One part of me is happy that she will last long enough for me to save for her collection.

Another part of me is sad that I may not have a Girl of the Year to look forward to next year. It was sort of an American Girl tradition.

And another part of me is just a bit frustrated with the design of the doll and her collection…

Here…at this moment…I have to analyze this objectively.

This Girl of the Year is really mediocre as a doll in comparison to dolls prior.

Here I am, being the Negative Nancy. Call me a self-hating black woman, a coon, whatever. I’m know I’m going to hear it all. I don’t care. I can’t fully accept her as a “great” Girl of the Year character, not under the current circumstances (with this possibly being the final GOTY doll).

If you’re an American Girl fan, you can probably better understand where I’m coming from. Newcomers may find her to be a great doll addition. And she isn’t garbage, but she has flaws.

I fell in LOVE with Gabriela’s story. I love the fact that she loves poetry and how she uses poetry to overcome her own disability. I think she’s a good role model for girls. I fell in love with this story so hard, even though I haven’t read it all, I want to buy two copies.

However, I have my hang-ups.

First off, this doll is #46 from the Truly Me line. She doesn’t just look like #46. She IS #46.

46

Truly Me #46

I always thought that doll was beautiful. I was sad when she was retired. And I am personally happy to see her return (especially because I don’t collect the Truly Me dolls). But I know plenty of people who said they already have this doll. This means there will be quite a few people who aren’t interested. It always leaves me uneasy when I hear that people don’t want to buy a doll of color. It’s especially bad because Gabriela is the only African American character (in 15 years) to have been produced (or rather “picked”) for the line AND she is supposed to remain in the line through 2018.

Some fans have expressed that American Girl, LLC has put a lot of effort into making the Caucasian American Girls look different and unique, but clearly didn’t do the same for Gabriela. Some feel they didn’t really plan on making an African American character for the line. Some people feel the company rushed production of her because the demand was so high. Basically, they pulled out a retired doll, put clothes on her, gave her a story, and called her Gabriela. Some people feel Gabriela is recycled and doesn’t reflect the same effort the company has put into former Girl of the Year dolls.

I can see their point. Maybe they have given up caring because they wanted the line to come to an end. Maybe they recognized the popularity of #46 and wanted to make her into a character.

Regardless of the reason, this part has been disappointing for most fans.

I don’t have #46, so I feel compelled to get Gabriela, but I wish she was designed in a way that would compel others to want to buy her.

The second problem I have with Gabriela is the fact that she is a DANCER.

I have to be fair about this. I talked about Isabelle being another dancer, I talked about Lea being another tropical princess, so I can’t let this slide.

This Girl of the Year is supposed to last for more than 12 months, she is the ONLY African American character, and you stick her with one of the most unoriginal themes? It doesn’t hurt the story, which incorporates poetry and overcoming disabilities, but it certainly hurts the collection.

Marisol was a tap dancer, ballet dancer, Mexican folk dancer, and jazz dancer. Isabelle danced ballet and modern dance. And now Gabriela! How many dancers does Girl of the Year need?

Because other “dancing” dolls came out, I’m not really interested in the majority of Gabriela’s playsets or accessories.

american-girl-marisol

isabelle-barre-set-hr

What would I need with two ballet barres?

I just can’t get excited AGAIN about another dancer when American Girl has done the theme TWICE before.

I know there are other people out there feeling the same way. And I just don’t like the idea that the first African American character in this line is not unique enough to be a MAJOR sell-out this year.

The final insult is that American Girl has stated on their facebook page that they don’t have major plans to release a movie for her! It takes at least a year to create a movie, so if they haven’t thought of one now, I don’t know if she’s ever getting one!

Still, she’s going to be around in 2018, so only time will tell. But she clearly seems slapped together.

Despite all of that, there are some American Girl fans who are excited about Gabriela. Some are even willing to buy her even though they already have #46! Some people like her dance collection the best out of the three. And some people are new to American Girl and missed collecting the other dance items.

Since Gabriela will be out more than one year, at least none of us have to worry about her selling out within one year. People will have the opportunity to save up for her and have a chance to get her between this year and next year.

That wraps up my review of the new Girl of the Year.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you all think of the new Girl of the Year and my article!

“An American Girl Story-Melody 1963: Love Has To Win” Disappointed This American Girl Fan

29 Dec

melody-movie

I know. This movie was released two months ago in October 2016, and I am just now giving my review on it. I have my reasons.

For those who don’t know, American Girl is a widely popular doll brand that is known for its historical line of dolls and books, contemporary lines of dolls and books, and baby dolls for toddlers. The historical line is the oldest line in the brand. It has been around since the mid-1980s and it continues to impress upon the minds of little girls even to this day. Parents also love the dolls for their educational value.

Prior to Melody’s movie, four other historical American Girl characters have had movie adaptations produced by WB, HBO Films, and New Line Cinema. The original four movies (made for Samantha, Felicity, Molly, and Kit) were full-length, feature films. Melody’s movie and Maryellen’s movie are short films.

I loved the original four movies a lot. They really brought the characters to life. Of course, American Girl no longer has the budget for those kinds of films anymore, especially since they began focusing more on making new dolls (which is good enough for me).

Now, their movies are made by Amazon and are mostly released through Amazon Prime.

Set in Detroit during the Civil Rights Movement, “An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win” examines the joyful life and troubled times of an irrepressible 10-year-old African-American girl whose vivid imagination and creativity reinforce her optimism. When shocking national events threaten her sense of security, Melody must find inner strength to restore her hope for a better world.

Director:

Tina Mabry

Writer:

Alison McDonald

Before I begin, I just want to inform new readers that I’ve always been a HUGE American Girl fan since the 1990s. I love toys and I love history. Combine the two, and you have one of my favorite doll franchises. I also want to remind readers that, as an African American, I am very happy that Melody was released. I loved her book series and the doll with her accessories…Just amazing.

But because I’m an American Girl fan and an African American at the same time, I can honestly say….I couldn’t really LOVE this movie. I don’t hate the movie, I just…don’t love it like I was expecting to.

Go ahead and chew me up. Call me self-hating, coon, liar, whatever. But before you decide to stop reading right here, just read me out.

One of the reasons I took so long to write this review was because I honestly wanted people to decide for themselves what they think of Melody’s movie. It was American Girl’s first movie dedicated to an American Girl doll of ‘color’, and I wanted people to mostly think positively. I didn’t want to shatter any dreams or feelings with my thoughts. I want Melody to be as successful as possible because I hope American Girl will continue to make more dolls of color in the future. I bought the movie on Prime because I wanted to encourage American Girl to make more movies with girls of color in lead roles.

I also waited to write this review because I saw how many people actually liked the movie (mostly people who never read Melody’s book series) and I knew they would just chew me up and spit me out for saying anything negative about this movie.

Last, I just really couldn’t find the right words to express how I was feeling. I tried to love this movie. I tried to force it, just because she was a girl of color and because I related to the message. But the American Girl fan in me just couldn’t attach herself to it.

The only reason I decided to share my opinion was because a fan emailed me and asked me.

*The following article may contain some spoilers.

It’s not that this movie was garbage. Far beyond that. In fact, it had its pros. Let me just run down the list of pros I saw.

PROS

The Message

Out of most of the other American Girl movies, Melody’s movie was one of the few that actually talked about a serious issue. The only other American Girls that presented issues that relate to our modern world were Kit (we were in the midst of the recession at the time) and Chrissa (bullying is still very serious). And Melody’s story was much deeper than all of those stories combined because real events were intertwined in the movie (particularly the Birmingham Church bombing).

Melody’s movie was designed to relate to issues young black children are facing today, and honestly, without the 1960s period outfits and references, I could see her being a girl in 2016/2017.

As an African American, I was happy that African American history was being represented by a movie, an American Girl movie at that. American Girl is a popular brand and it means a lot for such a brand to bring attention to girls of color and their struggle for equality.

The movie downsized the events that happened in the books, making the message clearer.

Marsai Martin

Marsai Martin was the actress that played Melody. She brought a lot of fire to Melody’s character (fire that wasn’t really felt in the books). Marsai is an intelligent and bright child herself, and I think she really shined in the movie. She had all the attitude, strength, and intelligence that I loved and that I feel all girls of color share. She had spunk.

Promotional Value

Melody’s movie has brought a lot of attention to the doll itself. Even though Melody has been out since August, a lot of people didn’t hear about her until after the release of the movie. There were many people on facebook inquiring about Melody after this movie was released. Hopefully, this will help Melody sell better than Black dolls prior. If Melody sells well at the end of this year and in 2017, American Girl may consider making more Black dolls in the future. This will shut the mouths of all the people who claim “black dolls don’t sell”.

Educational Value

The movie was educational for all races. For black children, it helped them connect today’s events to past events. This helps them see history as something that’s interesting and a major part of their modern lives.

Children of other races could learn to understand black people better through this story, through a beloved American Girl character.

CONS

Unfortunately, there were quite a few things that disturbed me about this movie. Please, don’t take offense. It’s just my opinion. I really felt there were things that would’ve made the movie better, but you readers are welcome to disagree.

The Cast

I felt everyone did a pretty good job with their acting. My problem was the lack of key characters from Melody’s stories.

Without Melody’s REAL family (and not that small family in the movie), her life felt empty. In comparison to older American Girl movies, her cast was the most butchered and horribly downsized. This made Melody’s family life seem lonely rather than bustling and close-knit, like in her books.

To add, by getting rid of most of the IMPORTANT characters, they left out potential black actors and actresses. Instead, more than half of the cast was WHITE. Not only was this totally opposite Melody’s story (which could’ve boasted an all-black cast), it was completely disappointing that black people still couldn’t get a chance to shine in this movie. There are few black actors and actresses getting screen time as it is. It’s especially rare in children’s films.

Maybe they added different races because they wanted to relate to more races of people, but I felt that using Melody’s real story would’ve related to more people. Melody’s life was similar to how most people lived in the 1960s and all of those 1960s references would’ve been appealing. Why switch it up so much?

They probably wanted to highlight the racism experienced in the 1960s, which was rightfully highlighted, sure. But I feel that racism was tackled well enough in Melody’s story, from an authentic and realistic perspective, and with mostly black people involved, for them to adapt it.

I’m not saying it’s bad to have white people in the movie, and maybe I should be grateful the lead characters were black. But wouldn’t it have been amazing if most of the cast was black? With Melody’s real family highlighted? Maybe that’s just my opinion.

Lately, it’s all about pushing agendas and less about telling the story.

Yes, I know that in American Girl movies prior, some characters were removed from the story. But the key characters were always present or at least mentioned. The family life could be “felt”. Melody’s family in the movie just didn’t feel like her family.

Characters

This is something that really bothered me. As an American Girl fan, and not just an African American, this bothered me a lot.

NONE, and I mean NONE, of the characters really seemed like they came from Melody’s stories. In fact, they all felt like totally new characters from a completely different story. Even Melody really wasn’t Melody.

In the older American Girl movies, all of the characters had the same personalities and interests as the characters in the books. It truly seemed like they brought the characters to life. The movies just weren’t teaching history; they were also telling a story.

Melody in the movie was NOTHING like the girl I grew to know and love in the books. Some people may have liked her better in the movie, but I didn’t. It’s not that Marsai didn’t do a good job with what she was handed, the problem was what she was handed.

Melody has been described as a sweet and hopeful girl. In the books, she was sweet, thoughtful, and caring. In this story, she seemed feistier. In the movie, she was a bit of a know-it-all. Melody wasn’t really a know-it-all kind of character in the books. I think they combined Melody with her sister Lila (who was in the STEM program in the book series, loved to read, and was super intelligent).

Melody was interested in singing (which they got right), but she also loved gardening. In fact, she was gifted with planting. In the movie, they made her more interested in sewing and space (giving her Maryellen’s interests). Gardening was a key part of her character, more than singing in the church choir, and they completely removed it. This was the first time I hardly recognized an American Girl in her own movie. The only thing “Melody” about the character was her outfits. I guess that’s all the doll company cared about when they allowed this movie to be produced.

Another thing that bothered me was the omission of Melody’s siblings. Having Melody’s siblings would’ve taught kids more about the 1960s. I understand that this was a short film, but somehow, in Maryellen’s short film (a movie for the strawberry blonde character from the 1950s) they managed to bring most of Maryellen’s siblings into her story. Why not in Melody’s? The Baby Boom was still in full swing in the 1960s. It would’ve made sense for Melody to have more siblings.

Dwayne and Yvonne did much more to add to Melody’s life than did Maryellen’s siblings, and yet Melody’s family was omitted.

music-in-the-movie

I felt cheated because I played this “quiz” on Americangirl.com that told me songs from the book would be in the movie. These songs were “written” and “composed” by Melody’s brother in the book series, so I thought he would be in the movie. I didn’t really hear all the songs in the movie, but even if I had, I would’ve been more upset. Dwayne influenced Melody’s music interests so much, it just didn’t feel right to keep him out. He would’ve showed the new generation how black people influenced modern-day music through his affiliations with Motown. He could have represented that part of history that is unknown to the new generation, but a part of history that influences them even today.

Yvonne was a particularly empowering young woman. Her role in the book series was really interesting. First off, she was the first in her family to wear her hair all-natural (an afro). She was a real civil rights activist (not just a participant). She went to college, she risked her life to educate people in the south, and she marched on Washington with thousands of people just to hear Martin Luther King give his most famous speech. I was torn to bits when there wasn’t anyone in the movie to represent her.

Yes, I know American Girl is on a budget. They can’t make their movies too long, with too many people. But I would’ve rather had Yvonne than any of those brats in Melody’s (fake) classroom. Again, how was Maryellen able to get away with having most of her siblings, but Melody’s movie had to succumb to the budget?

Finally, I want to talk about Melody’s mom. I’m happy that she was a hard-working African American woman and that her role revealed the struggle African Americans experienced in the USA. However, I found Melody’s mother to be more empowering and more authentic in the book series than in the movie. In the book series, Melody’s mother wasn’t a struggling seamstress working for racist white people. She was an educated, black teacher, teaching at an all-black school. Melody’s mother graduated from Tuskegee. The movie sort of combined Addy’s mom with Melody’s (maybe to make up for the fact that American Girl, LLC has overlooked Addy as a potential for a good movie all of these years). I was not pleased with this.

I feel that Melody’s mother was over-dramatized in the movie. The book series was more authentic. Maybe it felt more authentic because the panel that worked on the books lived and understood that time period. Maybe it felt more authentic because my own grandmother and her friends had gone to school and became teachers in the 1960s. When I read it in Melody’s stories, I immediately connected with Melody’s mother. But the movie was dramatically trying to show us a racist society. While they did that, they took away Mrs. Ellison’s strengths. Even though the 1960s was a harsh time for African Americans, many were educated by then, many were successful, and many lived comfortably, especially in the North.

I would’ve liked to see Cousin Tish’s salon brought in the movie and I’m still crossing my fingers for the playset in the future.

I also wanted to see Big Momma, one of the most important figures in Melody’s life. She is the one that taught Melody how to sing!

Melody’s friends barely appeared in the movie, and when they did, they were mean little brats. They weren’t supportive like they were in the books.

So much was missing from the movie because the key characters that shaped Melody’s life in the books were not there.

The Story

In the older American Girl movies, the stories were flipped, butchered, and changed around. Scenes were added and scenes were taken out. However, the heart and inspiration was clearly evident. Key important events were not taken out.

For example, Molly’s struggle with her hair was taken out of Molly: An American Girl on the Homefront. However, Molly getting the role as Miss Victory, the most important part of her Changes for Molly book, was in the movie.

There are more examples I could name, but the point is most of the older movies brought the important events from the book series to life.

The new Melody movie was so focused on pushing agendas and highlighting modern-day issues, it failed to actually tell Melody’s stories. Melody was used as a tool to tell an entirely different story unrelated to the released American Girl. And that’s fine. But I watched the movie looking for one of my favorite characters to come to life on screen. I was disappointed when I found I was being introduced to a completely different story with a completely different character in Melody’s wardrobe.

First issue, none of the events in the movie happened in the book. Melody never went to an all-white school in the book series. She attended an all-black school. Her school provided encouragement and support to the students, especially when it came to combating racism. In the books, when the church bombing happened, her teacher talked to the students to console them. Melody’s friends were there for her when she was frightened by the events.

Melody’s reaction to the bombing was different, too. In the movie, she was angry and bold. She posted clippings about events in her all-white school. In the book series, it hit her much deeper. It struck fear in her. It made her afraid to walk in her own church. That felt more realistic, considering she was 9 years old. These different reactions revealed that the two girls were actually TWO DIFFERENT characters. They didn’t react the same to situations, they didn’t have the same personalities. To me, they are two different “Melodys”.

I know the new story relates better to modern black girls. But I feel that they cheated Melody and spent less money on her movie than movies prior. I feel that her stories were butchered the most out of any of the other American Girl characters. And because of that, I don’t feel Melody’s story was really told.

Authenticity and Realism

While some modern day African Americans may find the movie to be more realistic, especially in relation to today’s events and some major occurrences in the past, I found the book series to tackle the Civil Rights Era in a more authentic and realistic fashion overall.

Considering the book series was meant to be told from the perspective of the average 9 year old, living in Detroit in the NORTH during the 1960s, the book series relates more to the real African American story. In the book series, there were many cases of racism in stores, when trying to buy property, or when trying to fix up black neighborhoods. But most black people lived in all-black neighborhoods in nice brick houses. Most children attended all-black schools. Most black families were close-knit. Families were large because of the Baby Boom. The book series had a naturalness to it that felt more authentic.

The movie was definitely what happens when “Hollywood” gets hold of something. With Hollywood taking hold of Melody’s story, everything became more dramatic. Racism and oppression became key themes, but strength, optimism, community, and hope were not added as themes as they were in the books. Especially not the community involvement.

I wish that theme had been brought out because I don’t feel enough African Americans are encouraged to get involved in their own communities. Some have given up hope that they can do anything to make a difference. I really hoped that there would be emphasis on community involvement and I was let down there.

Maybe these things don’t bother most viewers and American Girl fans, and I wouldn’t say it made me hate the movie. But I definitely felt disappointed and didn’t really have the same overwhelming happy feeling so many other people had after watching it. It was decent for a kids’ movie, but it just didn’t live up to former American Girl movies.

After this, I barely wanted to watch Maryellen’s movie. I was afraid it would also be butchered, and if it wasn’t, I would be mad that Maryellen’s movie was closer to her true series and Melody’s wasn’t. So far, I’m not a fan of the move to Amazon Prime. The movies are short, I don’t like paying for Prime just to watch these movies, and I would rather have a hard copy, like I did with other American Girl movies.

Anyway, sorry to be negative about this. I still love Melody and I still support American Girl bringing attention to dolls of color in the future. I’m just not a huge fan of this movie. I don’t think this movie really catered to the fan base and mostly catered to newcomers to the brand.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the movie. Do you think I’m being too petty about it? I am one of those people that can’t read the book series and fully enjoy loose adaptations. XD Do you agree with me? Are there any points you appreciated about the movie? Anything you disliked? Please share.

If you haven’t read the books and don’t plan on reading them, I think this movie would be good to watch. If you’ve already read Melody’s series, tread with caution and remember that this movie is a pretty loose adaptation.

Nanea Mitchell, the Hawaiian 1940’s Character: American Girl Beforever Running out of Eras in History?

30 Oct

Hello, readers! This American Girl fan is back with a topic I’ve been meaning to discuss. It has come up several times among American Girl fans and I just wanted to share my thoughts on it. My views on this topic may be a bit controversial, but I’ll go ahead with it anyway.

I’ve been thinking more and more about when I should end my American Girl collection. My American Girl collection has gotten large enough and my pockets won’t be able to take investing in the brand forever, especially because the prices appear to climb higher every year. XD I’ve decided that I’ve got to find out where I should stop and just add to the dolls and collections I already have.

To add, the latest in the Beforever collections have just been…well, boring. I’ve been really disappointed with the recent American Girl Beforever items. I was disappointed with Maryellen’s lack of “character-specific” items. For example, they didn’t give her anything scientific, artistic, or Davy Crockett-related or something like that; there weren’t any items related to her interests in the books. With American Girl, LLC’s trend of changing up the books, they probably are avoiding book-specific items as much as possible. They had to rewrite many of the books to omit the descriptions of old outfits just so they could revamp the line for Beforever…

Melody was better about it, but she is also suffering from a rather small collection (in comparison to what I’m used to from the 1990s, I guess). I had hoped for something a little more interesting with Melody (like a 1960s salon with nail design or something, as mentioned in the book).

The Melody movie didn’t satisfy my inner American Girl, either (though it did satisfy me as an African American). It just didn’t feel like Melody’s story. It felt like the story of another Melody from the same time period…

Overall, I just feel unimpressed with American Girl Beforever lately.

So, as I was contemplating where I would end my collection, and contemplating which eras I’m looking forward to the most, I thought about this…American Girl basically covered most of the major eras that interest me. The only eras left untouched that I have any interest in are the late 1800s, the 1920s, and somewhat the 1980s…

1920-girls-fashion-01

1920s fashion for girls

For an American Girl fan like me, yes, American Girl is running out of eras. Depending on the kind of fan others are, this may not ring true, especially new fans, as some characters may have been archived before they became fans.

However, it still is crystal clear American Girl is running out of MAJOR periods and eras in American history to cover, no matter what fans are willing to accept. Still, there are a couple of minor ones they can touch on (though they don’t interest me much, as I feel many of the current American Girls have covered the gist of most of them).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_United_States_history#Named_eras_and_periods

In comparison to most countries around the world, the USA is still a relatively young country. We don’t have the vast amount of eras that other countries have. Sure, if we focus on every particular event in American history (as opposed to eras, like American Girl has been marketing their dolls for), we can find a whole slew of history. The original American Girl History Mysteries books did that.

But that still doesn’t stop the fact that American Girl is running out of MAJOR ERAS inUSA history. Focusing on particular events will just produce thousands (exaggeration here) of dolls that dress very similar and may even look similar. I suppose if you can deal with it with Girl of the Year, you can handle it with Beforever. GOTY characters are back to back, and they somewhat manage to make their characters’ outfits look relatively different (though in the past, fashions didn’t change as frequently as they do now). At the same time, I never feel like I have to buy a new Girl of the Year every year. I can easily buy the new GOTY fashion for another GOTY character I got previously. I’m not a major Girl of the Year fan though, and maybe that’s why. That’s aside from the fact that there isn’t enough diversity in the line, but that’s a subject for another day…

List of American ers in history https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era

List of American eras in history
https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era

List of era in American history continued. https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era

List of eras in American history continued. https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era

Kaya was in the major era of Exploration and Colinization giving the Native American persective. A pilgrim perspective is possible (1) as that can’t be touched on thoroughly in Kaya’s stories.

Felicity covered the Revolutionary era. There is no need for another perspective because most all perspectives were brought out in her stories.

Caroline covered the era of the New Nation. There’s only so much to really highlight here.

National Expansion & Reform was covered by Josefina, Kirsten, Marie-Grace and Cecile. A girl expanding west is possible (2), but she may look similar to Kirsten. Josefina also lives west herself, and also touched on western expansion directly in her story, as Americans began to take over Mexican territory.

Civil War and Reconstruction was covered by Addy. There is no need for another perspective. A confederate perspective would be quite controversial. Marie-Grace and Cecile touched on southern life positively in the 1800s without getting into the “Civil War” controversies regarding the South.

The Industrial Age is left open. Hopefully, American Girl stops focusing on modern history long enough to realize this open opportunity. (3)

Progressive Era to New Era, WWI, American Imperialism were touched on by Samantha and Rebecca.

The 1920s is open. (4)

The modern eras were covered by Kit, Molly, Maryellen, Melody, and Julie. And they have characters of various perspectives as well. Other perspectives are possible within other additional American Girl books (like the mysteries or Best Friend books, for example).

The 1980s can be covered as a modern era. At least it would make for interesting fashion, accessories, and maybe even playsets. (5)

Looking at what we have above, we don’t have many major eras to work with. I can read many different books about many different events, but can I buy a doll that is a “twin” of another when it comes to style and playsets? No. Not interested. Especially with four eras basically untouched.

After all the major eras are covered, I suppose American Girl will just rehash eras from different perspectives. As a history fan and American Girl fan, I have no interest in rehashed eras. 1) I’m too attached to the characters that represented the eras in the first place. No one can replace my Felicity, Molly, Kit, Addy, etc. 2) The American Girl books have already given many different perspectives already. Why would I want to hear the same information twice, from a different perspective, with just slight differences? 3) There are only certain Major Eras that can truly give two different perspectives in a way that actually makes the story feel different. If characters sound too similar to each other, in the same era in time, you might as well just make them friends of the characters already designed. Especially if the books are supposed to stretch over two volumes.

Each American Girl has many different perspectives in their books. Example: Even though Felicity is from a Patriot family, she had her grandfather and Elizabeth to represent the alternative perspective. In Samantha’s stories, she was the wealthy girl and Nellie represented an alternative “Irish immigrant” perspective and the horrible conditions factory workers endured.

I really didn’t have much interest in the Best Friend stories, as I felt I learned enough about their friends from the main American Girls’ own books.

I just have a hard time reading about the same subjects twice. It was one of the main reasons why Changes for Rebecca bored me. It was because I already read about factories in Samantha’s stories. Sure, Rebecca’s stories touched on the actual Labor Movement, but the shock factor of the factory conditions was lessened because I already read about it. Good thing there was enough differences between 1904 and 1914 to add other differences to the Rebecca series. That’s not the case with every major era. Some eras were so major they overcame daily life. WWII was one of those eras.

This is why I’m not extremely interested in the Hawaiian 1940’s character. For those who don’t know, there is  another 1940’s character from Hawaii set to be released. Originally, the rumor was that she was Japanese, but with the recent trademarked name “Nanea Mitchell”, it seems she’s just  going to be”Hawaiian”.

Nanea Mitchell

I don’t have any interest in another 1940’s character, Japanese, Hawaiian, or any other. I feel, in my heart of hearts, that Molly fulfills my 1940’s needs. Though I would love more diversity, I just wouldn’t want any other doll from that era. There are so many untouched eras that I would be more excited for. I’m just being honest. The 1940’s feels exhausted for me. To me, Molly has represented what most Americans on the home front have experienced, especially from a child’s perspective. My grandparents are African American, and they STILL related to the way Molly lived during the war, after I shared the stories with them. My great-grandmother even showed me a movie that she found about growing up in the war, a movie she felt described the home front perfectly from her perspective, and much of the things mentioned in the movie were highlighted in Molly’s stories. Sure, my grandparents only experienced slight differences, like racism and discrimination, but they mostly lived in black communities and shared the same patriotic spirit (surprisingly).

Whether in obvious ways or small ways, Molly’s stories have really given a complete introduction to the era from a patriotic, very “all-American” perspective.

Now, most people tell me that they would LOVE an internment camp doll. I would NOT. If anyone has any knowledge of internment camp history, (and from my experience, many American Girl fans surprisingly don’t), I don’t think they would really think an internment camp character would be a good idea. First of all, it was a shameful time for not only Americans but for the Japanese Americans especially. It’s not like the end of the Civil War, where many slaves like Addy were running away from their masters in droves, enlisting in the war and fighting for freedom, and rebuilding their lives as free people of color, overcoming obstacles. It’s not like Melody who was able to use her strengths to overcome prejudice, racism, and discrimination, but also focused on the good times for African Americans, especially in the music industry. The Japanese Americans needed strength to endure the camps, sure, but they couldn’t do much to fight their fate. They lived like this for the whole war to boot. Some didn’t even live in houses, being placed in temporary shelters such as stables and barns. It just wasn’t a really good time for the Japanese Americans. It doesn’t highlight the strengths of the people.

It’s similar to the idea of touching on the European takeover of the Native Americans’ land and the placing of Native American children in boarding schools…It’s not the best light to show the Native Americans. This is why American Girl went with Kaya, before European take-over and influence…A time that showcased the “strengths” of the people and how they were thriving long before European influence…

Story-wise, internment camp history may be very interesting (rather sad) for an intermediate or advanced reading audience, maybe if someone wants to go into detail about WWII, but I don’t think an internment girl’s collection would be much different from Molly’s, and possibly would be worse. Many Japanese Americans couldn’t bring their toys, furniture, or heirlooms with them because they could only bring what they could carry to these camps. A few were able to bring their kimonos, though…

An article with Color photos of Life in an Internment Camp

Relatively, the Japanese American character would dress similar to Molly on a day-to-day basis. As far as playsets go, can you really imagine the bedding and furniture? Not very nice as a miniature size for playtime. I’d rather them bring Molly back if they want to touch on WWII again, like they did with Samantha and are doing with Felicity.

Lastly, there were no internment camps in Hawaii. The American Girl character would have to be relocated to a different state. This is also why the original rumor seemed a little shaky to me.

Internment Camp Locations and other info

If you really want to learn how it felt to live in an internment camp, just look up the REAL facts:

Japanese Internment Camp Facts

Some fans suggested that some of her family members be taken into an internment camp and she just stays on the island with the rest of her family and tells all of us about WWII on the Hawaiian home front (because not all Japanese Americans were taken into these camps). While this may be interesting to some people, I have no desire to hear about the war again, not even from a different perspective. I feel that Molly’s extra stories have the potential to bring that material to the fore. Just like one of Molly’s mysteries, A Spy on the Homefront, she could easily have another story about life in Hawaii on the homefront. That would satisfy my mind and my pockets. It doesn’t require a two-volume series.

Any outfits that come with a new 1940s character will just be placed on my Molly (unless it is Japanese or Hawaiian specific, which is unlikely with an internment camp girl). It saves money.

A Hawaiian character’s bedding and clothing may be more interesting than a Japanese internment camp girl, but probably still will only have slight differences from Molly in many respects. I just wouldn’t be compelled to buy everything because I know that not only do I have a ton of items from Molly’s 1990s collections to make up for it, but much of it was superior in quality to what I’m seeing come out of American Girl Beforever recently. All of the Hawaiian collection would just go to my Molly’s “Hawaiian vacation”. Lately, American Girl has opted out of character-specific items. I doubt the Hawaiian Beforever character will have many items that reflect her individual personality. And what would the average girl in the 1940s be interested in anyway? Possibly very similar interests to Molly.

Hawaiian girls in the 1940s

Hawaiian girls in the 1940s

I only feel compelled to buy new dolls if they are from unique eras in time. I just can’t get excited about an already-covered “Era” in time, no matter the events in the books or ethnicity. I suppose this is mostly because I love American Girl for the history and the tiny models (toys) that reflect complete eras in history. I’m just not into it just because they have dolls, with face molds, eye colors, and period fashion. I think representation is important, but I think girls of color should be represented in fresh eras in history first. Accurate history is a priority for me.

So I’ve decided that I will end my American Girl collection when all the major eras in history have been covered. If Beforever begins to repeat eras in history, I will just not buy it. That’s my resolve. The ones I numbered are the last couple of dolls I’m willing to collect. After that, I will just add to my collections.

My hope is that an Asian American character comes from the 1980’s. That would make this fan happy. 🙂

I’m interested in hearing the opinions of other American Girl fans. Where do you plan to halt your collection and just add accessories, if at all? What eras do you look forward to most? Are you interested in eras-done-twice? What do you think of the Hawaiian 1940’s character? Do you believe American Girl is running out of eras in history? Leave me a comment and give your opinion.

American Girl and African American Beforever Characters: What does the future hold?

15 Aug

Rumors always spread like wildfire in the American Girl community. We are an enthusiastic group of fans. Our latest rumor comes from (basically) the confirmation that the newest American Girl Beforever character, “Beforever” being the name of the historical line of dolls from American Girl, would be an African American girl and that she is due to come out in 2016.

fb african american girl doll

This is all exciting news considering that this year Maryellen Larkin, an enthusiastic girl from the 1950s, has joined the American Girl Beforever group of characters.

Maryellen2

Two American Girls within two years? That’s quite a treat considering American Girl dolls are very challenging to produce. American Girl has many lines of dolls. They have the Beforever line of dolls that teach girls about history, a contemporary line of dolls, and the Bitty Baby line that favors younger children. Of all of their lines, the Beforever line is the most challenging to create. First, market research must be done to understand how they can appeal the doll to modern girls. Second, they have to find a time in history that is important for teaching and relating to girls today. Then they have to research the time thoroughly while still observing children because the history will be told from a child’s perspective. Lastly, they have to create authentic clothing and accessories that realistically fit a 9 to 10 year old girl (Though I can honestly say lately they’ve been slipping on that. Julie in platform shoes?).

But American Girl has somehow managed to work on two girls at once. They probably got a lot of practice creating those Best Friend dolls over the years (for those of you who don’t know, the “Best Friend” dolls were dolls that were the friends of the lead American Girl characters in their stories and usually accompanied the lead character in the collection). Now, fans don’t have to wait anxiously for the next new Beforever character. It’s exciting news!

Well, since the African American girl is basically confirmed, many have been wondering what time period she could possibly be from. Many speculate that she will be from Detroit in the 1960s. This coincides with the heavy demand for a girl who has experienced the Civil Rights era. With all of the current racial tension being the focus, many people feel that now would be the best time to release a character that touches on controversial issues such as race. This would make the character powerful for now.

But many also are still hoping for that 1920s Harlem Renaissance character, too.

I can honestly say that I’m stuck. I feel that if either comes out, I will be happy and disappointed. I truly can’t decide which time period would be more interesting for African Americans. And honestly, the sad part is, I don’t think American Girl would release an African American character for both time periods, though that would be ideal. So to give in to one time is to lose something precious historically from another. And the chances that they would cover an era twice (with a white girl and black girl representing these periods in history) is just weird and time-consuming…Might as well cover the era once…

As an African American, I feel both times may do many different things for the brand, but what each period does for African American girls will be different. What do I mean by that, you ask?

Let’s look at the 1960s, the most popular rumor.

The 1960s

People have made many interesting points about the 1960s girl being interesting. I’ve always been in favor of the 1960s prior to Maryellen’s release.

The 1960s is a very popular modern era. It relates more to modern African Americans than does the Harlem Renaissance.

The 20th Century is a big deal with children and adults alike. The possibilities for those “stereotyped” fashions are endless. When thinking of Maryellen, for example, people focused on a poodle skirt. Realistically, not every girl flounced around in a poodle skirt all the time and listened to a jukebox. These are stereotypes. But they did exist.

Likely with the 1960’s girl, many people are probably looking forward to fashions that may reflect more of a teenager’s look rather than a kid’s look. I’ve heard some people say they hope her hairstyle looks like something from the Supremes…Like a 9 to 10 year old girl would look like that in REAL life…

So people are not very realistic with their hopes and dreams regarding American Girl’s Beforever, but that doesn’t stop people from wanting American Girl to touch on a moment in history that strongly relates to the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of today.

The 1960s were an interesting cultural time for African Americans as well. The “Motown” era emerged when an all-black label helped transcend racial boundaries by producing artists that appealed to those outside of the black community. We have the birth of funk (James Brown, “say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud”). Talking about hippies? The sixties was the true era for that. The afro and all the colorful clothing marked the generation. Of course, we’re thinking about a child’s perspective here. The most she may have is an afro, and I’m inclined to believe she’ll have braids in her hair with hair ribbons.

Last, but not least, the 1960s were known to be a transforming period for African Americans because the Civil Rights Movement sought to equalize people of the minority group with white citizens, and many African American political and social leaders rose from this movement. It was an empowering time for African Americans and influenced many people throughout the nation and around the world. The efforts of African Americans/Black people in this period showed great accomplishment, intelligence, courage, and strength when it came to their use of the justice system during this period. It’s very American.

It also relates to modern African American children, who mostly understand their history through the Civil Rights movement and 1960s music.

People of other nationalities were also greatly affected by the Civil Rights movement. Desegregation moved black children into white schools, changing the environments that they were used to. Much prejudice had to be overcome in order to help this transition work. People of other backgrounds, such as the Native Americans, saw this movement as inspirational for their own Civil Rights movements.

Still, it’s obvious that the Civil Rights Movement mostly impacted African Americans, so it’s fitting for the newest Beforever character.

The 1960s weren’t all about Civil Rights and funk. The Beatles rock era and Bob Dylan/Joan Baez’s folk music influenced the sixties hippies as well. There are a lot of exciting things to get into regarding this era.

The downside to this era is that, when dealing with African Americans, this era focuses on the negative side of being black in America. It heavily brings out the same problems Addy had: racial oppression. Again, the story focuses on black people being held back versus prospering and inventing. It doesn’t show how African Americans influenced all of American culture. Instead, it shows how racial tension and oppression influenced black people. This is the strength I’ve found with covering the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. The history is more positive in that era.

The content may also be controversial. This may scare away certain ethnic backgrounds and the sales of the collection may suffer for it.

I also don’t like that the doll is being released so close to Maryellen, the white character who is just 10 years prior to 1965 (assuming that’s where the era would begin if the new girl is from the 1960s). We saw how promoting two girls of different ethnic backgrounds can be when they are from the same time when it came to Marie-Grace and Cecile. Though Maryellen and the new girl wouldn’t be from the same time, they are near one another in very popular moments in history. Having the two girls fight for the spotlight can be rough when it comes to marketing.

The 1920s

The 1920s shows the elevation of black people and focuses on the positive side of African American history.

If you want to know the truth, there isn’t any 1960s without the 1920s. The 1920s were the first time, since the Civil War, black people were able to receive an education, find opportunities to prosper, and grow into the modern African Americans we know today. Know any Black people who live in Harlem, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, or Los Angeles? You can thank the Harlem Renaissance. Many African Americans lived in the South prior to the 1920s. Big cities began sprouting upward. Schools, libraries, office buildings, and parks sprouted up all over the big cities in the nation. African Americans moved into the inner city areas which were becoming more affordable for living. With all the modern technology came a social-cultural explosion in music, art, and literature.

In Harlem and other northern cities, many African Americans saw the benefits of their freedom. Many black people owned their own businesses in the North. There were black-owned stores, black-owned libraries, and even schools.

The libraries were the biggest contribution to the black community. Education laws made school mandatory and African Americans benefited from having access to free books to help them study. They began to learn about the laws in America and began taking steps toward “civil rights” through organizations like the NAACP. The rise in education helped give rise to many poets and even to great literature.

One of the biggest parts of the 1920s was music, even outside of black communities. The 1920s were often coined around the world as the Jazz Age. Guess where Jazz originated? In the African American community! Many people do not give credit to African Americans for this fun, modern music that made the 1920s glamorous. But without African Americans, Jazz music wouldn’t have made the 1920s as “roaring” as it became.

The 1920s didn’t just affect African Americans or Americans at that. Big cities around the world, such as Berlin, Paris, and London caught on to the modernized lifestyle. This is why a 1920s girl would be more appealing to others than a 1960s doll. Many African American dolls don’t sell as well as the white dolls. A lot has to do with the fact that most of the African American dolls lack “glamor”. The 1920s were such an exciting moment in history, it would really make African Americans look good. I’m sure the fashion choices would be lovely, though, maybe for a young girl, not too different from Rebecca.

Sure, most people know about Prohibition, flappers, and gangsters, but from a 9 to 10 year old perspective, they wouldn’t have been involved too heavily with these things. Still, the flappers showed that attitudes about “proper” behavior were loosening, especially regarding women. Even the men loosened up.

Home decor became a thing in the 1920s as well. Automobiles started replacing carriages. And the radio stepped into people’s lives.

Women were able to vote for the first time. Imagine how this influenced the modern black woman!

People also began focusing on celebrities and sports stars for the first time. Movie theaters and sports stadiums brought attention to talented individuals in these fields. All-black teams were created, which greatly influences the black community to this day!

Certainly the 1920s can relate to anyone of any background. Because of this, I think that a black girl in this time won’t just be looked at as “the black girl” who fights “racism”. She will be looked at as the American girl, the girl that can relate to any girl no matter their background.

While I know American Girl will only choose one of the two eras for next year, I still hope both eras are eventually represented by African American characters. I often doubt that American Girl is that open-minded and I often get the feeling that, in the future, the 1920s will be represented by a white girl. I would be sorely disappointed if I find a white girl dancing to Jazz without proper respect to the African Americans who brushed in the genre.

From the rumors, it looks like the new American Girl may be from the 1960s, which is really great. But I hope they don’t get rid of Addy because her story touches on racism. There are hardly any 19th century girls as it is. Josefina and Addy are the only two. I also hope that this doesn’t stop them from making an African American character from the 1920s. After all, there are many white dolls from many different times. Why not have many black dolls if they are more suitable to a time period? Anyway…

Which era in African American history would you like to hear? What are your hopes for the newest African American character and any future dolls?

Leave a comment in the comments’ section and let me know what you think!

Meet American Girl’s Beforever Characters Through Engaging Youtube Videos Inspired From Their Stories! #AGBeforeverVids

16 Sep

*This article is to spread a campaign of sorts. I want more of the videos American Girl has posted on Youtube and better American Girl commercials. The videos they are missing are Rebecca and I also consider Caroline (Because I think her video was lacking). #AGBeforeverVids

Personally, I hated American Girl’s last couple of commercials for their historical line of dolls. However, one of Beforever’s ads was a step up. And yet, this isn’t the ad that’s appearing on t.v…

The commercials always seemed so “modernized”. My last favorite commercials were of the American Girl historical movies.

(The one below is not the actual trailer, but it has some clips from the original trailer)

I know the goal of the commercials are to make the American Girls seem “easy” for modern girls to relate to, but sometimes it’s easier for girls today to relate to engaging and interesting ads, rather than cheesy ads that over-emphasize “girlhood”. Especially the girls of the “target age”. If we look at online ads/trailers/commercials, like the Hunger Games trailer or the Maze Runner, big kids are usually drawn in by the dozens to those dramatic teasers. I understand people want to encourage little kids to stay kids. But the American Girls can provide a realistic view of life, while still appealing to sophisticated girls of today. American Girl admits that girls are more sophisticated today, which is why they consolidated their books to “feel” more like volumes. So why can’t they provide advertisements that appeal to sophisticated children?

Caroline’s commercial was an example of what I mean by just plain yuck. While I thought it was cute to have the girls play with Caroline during the entire ad, and cute when they threw in some rowboat scenes, the music threw off the appeal. They could’ve at least had some adventurous music. They could’ve given some more appealing insight into her story. They could have given it an artistic feeling. The ad felt very “thrown together”. They put some girls in a room with a doll, those girls played a bit with the doll, and then they added some cheesy modern music. I liked the McDonalds commercial from several years ago better than Caroline’s commercial! They could’ve made an interesting background scene. Other doll brands, like Ever After High and Monster High, have very innovative commercials. But no. This commercial didn’t tell me anything about Caroline or her time. It didn’t make Caroline seem like an interesting doll from all of their other dolls. I saw her accessories. I saw her outfits. But I didn’t seen any creativity-I didn’t see any imagination!

Look at THIS McDonalds commercial in comparison:

But American Girl has posted some interesting videos that are far more superior than any trailers above. On Youtube.com, on American Girl’s official channel, they have saved their beautiful historical videos for others to watch. Unlike everything above, these videos are interesting and inspirational. They are like mini-documentaries or audiobooks. They give the gist of the story with engaging historical footage and thrilling background music. They are a bit lengthy. I know a commercial can’t be as long as the videos they posted (you’ll understand when you watch), BUT I think that a commercial can utilize some backgrounds from the stories to create a scene for the dolls.

A good commercial needs a good scene for the dolls. Let’s take the Monster High Freaky Fusion commercial for example (Not to go off-topic, just giving an example of what I mean).

Like the commercial above, the advertisement places the dolls in a fitting scene. The music is also fitting for the dolls. This makes the dolls seem like they live in an interesting world. This sparks interest from it’s viewers.

The videos that were posted on Youtube made me so much more interested in American Girl dolls, I want to share them. I’m so sorry that Rebecca doesn’t have one and that Caroline doesn’t have one in this style. These videos also sort of make up for the lack of historical movies. I love them. But maybe kids don’t like them. All the kids I showed them to loved them! Let me know what you people think. Check them out:

Unfortunately, these videos use a lot of the illustrations that used to be in the book series, and since the Beforever books are picture-less, who knows if there will be any videos in the future. But I will be pushing for it.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the vids!

If you like them, and would like Rebecca and Caroline to have similar vids, #AGBeforeverVids.

 

American Girl is Retiring Four Dolls At Once!

20 May

American Girl has decided that Cecile, Marie-Grace, Ivy, and Ruthie don’t fit into their “future plans” when it comes to Beforever.

So, now these girls will be in the Archives.

Yes, Mattel was so inconsiderate, they had the audacity to make this announcement just TWO MONTHS before Beforever, like people are going to be rushing like chickens with their heads cut off to buy FOUR $100 dolls in just TWO MONTHS!

You know what, screw Mattel. I’m glad I’ve gotten all the dolls I want because I would be skeptical about any purchase I make from them from now on. I still support American Girl for providing wholesome dolls for little girls, I still support the educational value of the brand, but as a company, American Girl aka Mattel SUCKS.

american girls retired

American Girl LIED to fans stating previously on facebook: “We don’t plan to retire ANY dolls this year”. Yea, full of lies, just as I predicted. This was confusing and breached any trust people had in this company.

Come on. American Girl has been planning Beforever for TWO years. We all saw Beforever trademarked a long time ago. It had to have taken them at least a year to design the clothing and concept. They KNEW these dolls would be retiring long before MAY. They could’ve announced it long before. And why are the store workers more open about it but the FB workers so “oblivious”? Store workers said the dolls were retiring while FB kept saying none were retiring this year. Right.

I already can’t stand what their new “fresh approach” is looking like. I do like the idea of consolidated books and the new images. However, everything else just pretty much bombs for me. I also might support the 1950’s doll, if she even turns out all that great. I’ve seen prototypes and I despise all of the pastels showing up on the American Girls so far and those over-used hazel eyes.

My article on American Girl’s Beforever

I was never a huge fan of Marie-Grace and Cecile, and I never saw the fairness in the Best Friend dolls, since all the girls’ best friends never had dolls. But Ivy WAS the only Asian Historical Character. She was nothing more than a side-kick, but a doll little Asian girls could relate to. Marie-Grace and Cecile have become a major part of the line. Cecile has shown people that there is more to African Americans than slavery. I guess only “Vanilla” fits into American Girl’s vision of “fresh and new”. They only had five other diverse girls that were a part of the main line (And no, I’m not including the side-kick Ivy, but I’m including Rebecca because her ethnic religious background is different). Now, that has been stripped to four.

Some fans didn’t see this kind of behavior coming when they were making “demands” for Mattel to “focus” on the American Girl historical brand. They didn’t see that American Girl would make inaccurate clothing to replace the old outfits when they begged American Girl to make new outfits. They didn’t see this coming when American Girl was Archiving dolls, imagining that American Girl was “replacing” girls. And I tried to tell them that’s what they WANTED people to think, to make change easier. They are really just trying to find new ways to make money. They may not replace all four at once, like people may want.

For any normal company archiving dolls in just two months, it would be okay. Companies retire and replace dolls all the time. Most dolls only cost $12.99-$20.00. Buying four dolls at that price would amount to buying ONE American Girl doll. Considering the PRICE of American Girl dolls, change isn’t easy without loss. If the price was lower, people wouldn’t be complaining as much. They could complete their collections within weeks. But with four dolls at a high cost? Inconsiderate, and shows how much they care about their fans: Not much at all.

Oh well, I got my answer for the Archived girls. It looks like the books WILL STILL be sold! At least they had the courtesy of doing that for fans.

Well, Beforever is set to launch around August 28, 2014 according to Amazon.com. Stay tuned for more updates.

American Girl dolls and other dolls: Do Blonde dolls sell better?

30 Jan

Looking at Mattel’s recent string of blonde dolls (McKenna, Caroline, Isabelle), and sales statistics in the recent 21st Century, the answer would appear to be yes. Even looking at other doll lines, like Barbie, one can see how blondes sell well in almost every doll brand that exists. Around the world, Barbie is the world’s best-selling doll. Even people in other countries admire this blonde doll.

It has been noted that other countries admire blonde hair in general. Japanese anime tend to have leading female characters with blonde hair, like in Sailor Moon, Mew Mew Power, and Magical Doremi, though none of their females have this natural hair color. Precure has also had its share of blonde lead characters.

Isabelle.jpg

Now you can say that this is because blonde whites are the majority in the USA and around the world. You can say it’s because European influence dominates the world. But actually, statistics show that blondes only make up 18 percent of the population in the USA, and only 2 percent around the world, and even the majority of white people are brunette. Many people are artificially blonde. So European-dominated culture is actually made up mostly of dark-haired people.

http://www.historydoctor.net/Advanced%20Placement%20European%20History/Notes/european_migration_and_imperiali.htm

Another thing to note is that the selling of these dolls has nothing to do with the fact that white girls want “dolls that look like them”. Blonde girls are actually more attracted to darker dolls than other girls are!

Girls of other colors and other nationalities are drawn to blonde dolls. One study showed three different dolls: a light haired doll, fair haired doll, and dark-haired doll. When asked which one is the nice one, all of the girls said the blonde was the nice one and the dark-haired girl was the mean one. The girls they brought into this study were of all colors and nationalities in the preschool age range.

This is a reflection of what society has been pushing. Society has always pushed blonde hair since the Ancient Roman Empire. Some theorize that this is because blonde hair is “rare” in the world. The same reaction girls gave to blondes, in another study, girls have the same reaction to strange eye colors, such as hazel eyes.

As we see, American Girl has had the same trend of hazel eyes that seem to fascinate young girls. These rare qualities are fascinating, almost like seeing twins.

And yet, what pushes us to see “rare” as beautiful? If we look at many fairy tales in the old days, we see that the blondes were considered the beautiful princesses, and the brunettes were considered dark and “sinister”. In fact, darkness has always been associated with things that are scary. How many people are afraid to sit in a dark room? Darkness has also been associated with hollowness, emptiness, and evil. Even “This Little Light of Mine” the song discourages darkness. Darkness has even been associated with Hell, though fire and the color red has also had that devilish association as well…

The latest Ever After High dolls have banked on this traditional viewpoint. Apple White, the lead Royal character is a perfect, chipper, outgoing, airy blonde, while the other lead is a dark-haired, gothic, Rebel and “Evil Queen”. Though this story is meant to be satirical in some way, and point out the irony in fairy tales being set up so “perfectly”, kids who buy the dolls may still yet see brunettes as evil, mean, and unfriendly.

http://facts.randomhistory.com/blonde-hair-facts.html

Aren’t these ideas outdated? Modern society hasn’t yet encouraged people to look at brunettes as lovely and kind people, despite how much human kind supposedly has “progressed”?

And yet, I believe that brunette dolls have the ability to sell over blonde dolls if a company takes a chance and uses the right approach. MGA, maker of Bratz, made four diverse dolls with interesting, unique fashions and hair styles. And though the black girl still didn’t sell well over the others, the blonde wasn’t the best-selling either. The highest selling Bratz doll to date is Yasmin, and her hair is of a light brown color! She is also not associated with the Caucasian race, and has often been highlighted as “Mexican” and “Jewish”, as we saw in the live action Bratz movie. The Bratz brand was the first doll brand where brunettes dominated the whole brand, and blondes didn’t! And they still managed to sell to young girls. And because of their diversity, to an older crowd too. How did they do this?

Back to American Girl dolls…

In my opinion, I do believe the blonde dolls at American Girl sell, but I also believe this isn’t only just because little girls like blonde better. I do believe Mattel, the owners of American Girl, has maneuvered it in this way, considering that most of the production team is white. Why do I believe that Mattel has maneuvered it to be this way?

Well, I believe any production team knows what sells to girls, but a production team also knows how to sell a product to girls, too. Since Mattel owns some of the biggest toys running, and has collaborated with major toy companies , to add, they are the maker of the Barbie doll, it’s fitting that they would know the right way to sell more blonde dolls. Mattel is known for using blonde dolls as “fail-safe” dolls. When they are low on money, they tend to release blonde dolls. That’s what they did with Diva Starz, My Scene, and other brands they’ve had. But this is because Mattel knows how to cleverly manipulate the public into believing “blonde dolls sell better”. Even I was caught up in this belief. But lately, as I started reviewing my doll collection and my collection of magazine clips, I realized something. I realized that Mattel has had a high-selling brunette doll before, and I realized how it happened. Let me highlight more about the American Girl company in the past.

American Girl’s Samantha Parkington

American Girl’s best-selling brunette doll!

Before the release of dolls like Julie, Caroline, Isabelle, Kailey, and many other blonde dolls in the American Girl line-ups we know today, there were very few blonde dolls. Back in the 1990s, there were only six dolls, the only blonde being Kirsten. But in the ’90s, Kirsten was one of the lower-selling dolls, while Samantha was the highest selling doll, and still remained the highest selling doll until her retirement! Why was this?

Look at the difference between Samantha and Kirsten. Samantha was the only doll with soft, pretty, curly hair at the time. She was the only doll with lovely clothes and accessories. And unlike most brunettes, she was lively, outgoing, perky, sweet, and kind. And she still sold just as well, if not better, than the blonde American Girl dolls today. Kirsten, on the other hand, had braids and a very practical wardrobe that wasn’t very glamorous to little girls.

Is it safe to say that maybe the reason why blonde dolls have been selling better than brunettes is because they are given more glamorous wardrobes and accessories?

If we look at the recent brunette dolls in the American Girl brand, either their hair is blah or their outfits are blah. For instance, Rebecca has pretty hair, but considering she’s meant to represent a time where most immigrant families were simpler, she has simpler clothing. Even the modern American Girls with brunette hair have had plain fashions and drab accessories. Look at Lindsey Bergman, Jess, and Chrissa. Their wardrobes, hair, and accessories were so plain compared to Isabelle’s glitz and glamour.

Mattel has even given their brunette My American Girls uninteresting hair styles that aren’t stylish or appealing. Samantha was the last of her kind.

But Samantha is living proof that it can be done, even throughout the 21st century. And yet, they retired their last fabulous brunette doll.

I believe the biggest problem with American Girl company and many other doll companies is how they personally view brunettes. I believe because of their deeply-rooted, subconscious biases, they are not giving the same care to brunette dolls that they are blonde dolls. They may not realize this. Sometimes, brunette dolls may help them in conveying an “average girl” kind of message, since the majority of people around the world have dark hair. Still, this encourages girls to “reach for blonde”. It’s no wonder there are so many artificial blondes in the world!

The unwillingness for companies like Mattel to make brunette dolls into feminine, kind, and glamorous characters shows something about their company. It isn’t as if they’ve never sold well from a brunette doll. The fact is they have sold well on Samantha, very well in fact, even with Julie on the scene! But what’s obvious is their approach to the new brunette dolls they’re making today. They are not putting the same effort into the dark-haired dolls.

It is the same way I feel about an African American doll. Cecile is selling better than Addy, sure enough, but her collection is still mediocre compared to that of the blonde girls who, number 1, have their OWN line, and aren’t sharing it with anyone, and number 2, have an array of accessories and playsets. If American Girl takes the ideas they usually have for their blonde characters, and gear them towards their brunettes and minority characters, I’m sure they won’t have to make as many blondes as they are making. They would not only add diversity, but make us “average” girls feel glamorous and special, just like the blonde characters.

I feel other companies have been cheating too. This goes for them: treat your brunette characters like divas too. It CAN be done. The Magic Attic Club doll brand is another good example of how it can be done. The most popular doll in that brand was Heather. Instead of putting the blonde in pink (which they ended up doing eventually with Chloe), they advertised Heather, the brunette with pink. Heather sold better than their blonde doll with the long hair. See? It’s all in how you advertise the doll. There is no excuse. Some of these companies can make successful brunette dolls, they just choose not to. Why not put the blonde in plain pigtails and drab clothes for a change? If you downplay one doll, another doll will stand out. That’s how it works. Why not let the bruns stand out sometimes, huh?

The only company that has done this is MGA with its line of Bratz dolls. Yasmin outsells any of their blonde dolls, and that’s why they keep making replicas of Yasmin. Why? Because they made her glamourous and pretty!

bratz-wallpaper-doll-yasmin-source_uf0

Yasmin-Isn’t she glamorous and pretty?

Other companies can learn from them. Though I forget, Mattel considers them a “rival”.

That’s what I think. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

American Girl: Girl of the Year 2014: Isabelle

1 Nov

Photos of the new Girl of the Year have been leaked on the Internet. Her name has been revealed to be Isabelle Palmer. She is also going to have a movie to complete her collection.

american girl isabelle

My opinion on the Girl of the Year 2014? Do you really want to hear it?

She’s pretty, she’s blonde, she’s coming out with a movie, she dances, she’s modern and she wears pink. She’s sure to sell to this generation of girls.

On the flip side, she’s boring, unoriginal, common, expected, and well…disappointing.

Not that American Girl is crawling with blonde dolls all the time, but at least her hair style could have been unique (though she does come with an attachable pink hair piece). But possibly unique hairstyles don’t sell to young girls, who want a doll that looks “pretty”.

She is said to have hazel eyes. Not that all former dolls had hazel eyes, but it seems like a trend in American Girl lately. Hazel eyes must be selling well…

I’m a bit disappointed that the name Isabelle wasn’t spared for a historical doll, but at least the mystery surrounding that is over.

The outfit is trendy and cute, but not spectacular. Of course, we have to wait for accessories to spruce it all up. Honestly, wouldn’t it be nice if she had an accessory like glasses? With Molly retiring, I think it would be great for a new American Girl to have glasses. Who will make the “weird” girls feel normal?

To me, she looks like she can pass for a My American Girl doll…she’s not interesting enough to have her own line and collection. She just reminds me of Lanie or Kailey with a different outfit. But hey, how many Girl of the Years can you do without repeating a look? I still want my short haired, curly top red head with the green eyes…and now I have a fascination with glasses…Even a bi-racial girl of African American and Italian descent would appeal to my interest. Just something different…

To add, her story is very short of interesting. She’s another dancer Girl of the Year, like Marisol. Though her collection might actually include ballet items, disappointingly unlike Marisol, I feel she is just another Marisol. I don’t feel convinced to buy her, but I will surely buy her items to go with Marisol’s collection. While her story might be empowering and inspirational for little girls, it’s not really all that unique. It really feels slapped together, ya know?

It has also been revealed that she just doesn’t dance ballet but modern dance too…great, now she’s REALLY like Marisol!

Book summaries

Book 1  GOTY 2014 is excited about starting her first year at the Anna Hart School of the Arts! But she can’t help comparing herself to her older sister, Jade, who attends the same school and is an amazing ballerina. GOTY 2014′s other classmates are equally talented, and she starts wondering whether she really belongs at her new school. She earns a role in the fall festival, but she struggles during rehearsals. Can GOTY 2014 learn how to focus less on those around her and more on her own dancing? With help from her sister and her friends, GOTY 2014 may discover a unique talent that she can truly call her own.

Book 2 As GOTY 2014 rehearses her ballet routine for The Nutcracker, she wonders if she’ll ever master her pirouettes, especially with her classmate Renata pointing out her every mistake. She tries focusing on the other parts of the production she enjoys: exploring the costume and props room and helping out with costumes for some of the younger dancers. But when Jade, her big sister who also attends Anna Hart School of the Arts, becomes moody and withdrawn, GOTY 2014 taps into her design skills to try to find a solution for Jade. In the meantime, can GOTY 2014 find the confidence to tune out Renata and perfect her own performance, too?

Book 3 GOTY 14 is doing great at the Anna Hart School of the Arts–her dancing idol Jackie Sanchez even invites her to go on tour! GOTY 2014 jumps on board, but she quickly finds that the traveling show has its challenges, not the least of which is bossy Renata who was invited to come, too. When the dance show suddenly starts falling apart, GOTY 2014 tries to help Jackie pull it back together–and begins to learn more about a mentor who encouraged Jackie to dance as a young girl. As GOTY taps into her talents to try to save the show, she not only discovers who inspired Jackie, but also how she, herself, can inspire those around her.

Sadly, I’m not impressed. I was so impressed with Saige, I expected much better of next year! Saige is the one that should have had three books, if you ask me. Or even Jess, as I felt her stories were the most interesting, and had the most unique setting. Well, it has been revealed she is from our nation’s capital Washington, DC.

However, I can understand why they chose such a simple girl. It’s much easier to find an actress to fit this role than for someone who has features that are hard to match. And the modern movies are really what sell the Girls of the Year and bring the brand to the mainstream audience.

But hey, let me not bash her before I see her with my own eyes.

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Just in! Her collection has also been leaked! Someone got a hold of the catalog! Thank Youtube!

Give me your opinion on the new Girl of the Year!

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The DVD trailer has been released! Check it out! It looks pretty good. It’s due out July 22, 2014 according to amazon, just weeks away from Beforever. Isabelle Dances into the Spotlight will also air on Disney Channel August 9, 2014 7/6C pm.

Oh, by the way, Isabelle lovers, Isabelle is coming to a McDonald’s near you!

A SPECIAL VIDEO FROM GENERATION NEXT:

 

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