Why I'm Loyal to the American Girl Doll Brand
When my daughter was around two years old, a close friend of mine gifted us with three American Girl historical dolls that she and her sisters had played with growing up- Kirsten, Samantha and Felicity. The dolls were probably twelve to fifteen years old and had been well loved. Kirsten had seen many soccer tournaments according to my friend and Felicity had spent plenty of days at the dolly hair salon, which is why her hair wasn't in such great shape.
I have a confession to make before I go on. I had never seen an American Girl doll in person, and I kind of thought they were ridiculous and elitist. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would pay over a hundred dollars for a doll… until I was given those three dolls from my friend.
It didn't take long for me to not only fall in love with those dolls, but become very loyal to the American Girl brand, because of their quality and the messages they send to girls about strength, character and the importance of history.
Here is my little girl with her beloved Felicity doll. Felicity has since been re-wigged because her hair eventually gave out from many salon sessions with my daughter.
So why am I so passionate about the American Girl brand? Maybe my reasons below will make you a fan, too!
.After about fifteen years of heavy play, our Samantha, Kirsten and Felicity dolls were, believe it or not, in pretty good shape! If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believe that any doll would stand up to that much play for that many years. Kirsten should have been a complete disaster but she held up okay.
Their hair wasn’t perfect anymore of course, so I did some reading and learned how to restore it using Downy fabric softener. (That will be another post.) Their hair came out really nice, especially Samantha’s. Felicity quickly became my daughter’s favorite doll, which meant she had a lot of spa days and heavy brushing, so I eventually had to rewig her, but because the dolls are made so well, they CAN be rewigged! Cheaper dolls have the hair sprouting from the crown and it cannot be removed. Well made, high quality dolls like American Girl brand have an actual wig that is separate from the doll's head. The old wig can be removed and a new one glued on, (which will eventually be another blog post to show you how to do it.) With a cheaper doll, if your child takes scissors to the hair, or it gets burned when the doll helps her blow out her birthday candles, forget it. The doll is done for. With an American Girl doll, she can be fixed.
They also have limbs and a head that are tied into the soft, cloth body which means... they can be removed and even replaced! Worst case scenario, your doll's head or an arm gets chewed by your puppy (that almost happened to us and we saved her just in time!) you can send her to the American Girl doll hospital and have her repaired. With a cheaper, lower quality doll, repairs are generally not possible because the limbs and head are not removable.
American Girl has several different collections of dolls, but some of their most popular ones are the historical dolls. When you visit the American Girl store, each historical doll has her own museum style room showing all her outfits, furniture and other items that are unique to her period in history. Each historical doll also has chapter books with her story, and they are an inspired way for your child to be introduced to historical fiction. There are many unit studies you can find online for American Girl books and there are several places in our area that teach history to homeschool kids using American Girl books and dolls.
My friend gave us quite a few articles of historical clothing for the dolls, and the clothing helped seal the deal with my love for the brand. It was high quality and it was historically accurate. I have never gotten a piece of American Girl brand clothing that wasn’t well made and beautiful.
Children can learn so much more from reading historical fiction than they can learn from dry history text books. American Girl’s historical doll books bring history to life and give girls a tangible connection to history through the dolls.
DOLLS FOR EVERY GIRL (DIVERSITY)
The American Girl brand has dolls for every girl. My children are interracial- half Caucasian and half Filipino. My daughter looks quite a bit like me, but she has darker skin and darker hair. She has dolls of all skin colors and hair colors, but it’s a special thing for her to be able to find dolls that actually look like her. The Truly Me dolls come in a wide variety of hair, skin and eye colors and you can customize your doll for your child.
American Girl also has diverse historical characters and dolls of the year such as Addie, Kaya, Kanani, Ivy, Josefina and others.
American Girl also offers items for disabled children such as wheelchairs and crutches. They have an allergy free lunch for the dolls, which may sound a bit odd, but my kids and I DO have a food allergy and it made my daughter feel special that AG would make such a thing. They have a retainer for girls who wear braces to make their doll look like them and many pairs of cute glasses.
We went to a birthday party at the American Girl store in Los Angeles, and the birthday girl, who was turning 9, wore glasses. She was so excited to find glasses that matched hers for her new doll so they could look alike.
THE AMERICAN GIRL STORE- AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE
I had already fallen in love with the American Girl brand before I ever visited a store. Once I visited the store, they earned my undying loyalty. I really wish they would build more AG stores, because the store itself is an immersive experience... think a miniature Disneyland, but for dolls.
Above: Mary Ellen's historical doll room at the American Girl store at the Grove in Los Angeles, California. Mary Ellen is the from the 1950's.)
I will do a more in depth article and YouTube video on the AG store experience for another post, but the highlight for me was the rooms for the historical dolls upstairs. As I mentioned above, each doll has its own little museum and you could spend hours there not only drooling over beautiful doll clothes and other items, but learning with your child. As a homeschool family, we pretty much learn wherever we go and the AG store was no exception. Kids get a feel for the time period of each doll by just being in the museum and seeing the set up. Then follow up with some book reading and fun activities and you have an entire unit that is engaging and thematic… something your child will always remember.
THEY HOLD THEIR VALUE
If you’re still not sure if an American Girl doll is worth the price, the final thing that makes me loyal to the brand is that they hold their value. American Girl dolls are so well made that they last even when your kids play hard with them. They can easily be restored when their hair gets crazy and their skin can easily be cleaned. IF your child outgrows them (I say “if” because many people do not outgrow their dolls, including me), you can sell her American Girl dolls on Ebay or Craigslist and, though you won’t get a ton of money for them, you’ll get enough to make you feel like it was worth it to buy them.
Even if you don't become American Girl Doll obsessed like my daughter and me, you might just find yourself wanting to play dollies with your sweet girl if you invest in a quality American Girl doll. I don't think you'll regret it.
(This is a photo of my daughter and me at the American Girl Store at the Grove in Los Angeles, Caifornia.)