American Girl is an American line of 18-inch (46 cm) dolls released in 1986 by Pleasant Company. The dolls portray eight- to twelve-year-old girls of a variety of ethnicities, faiths, and social classes from different time periods throughout history. They are sold with accompanying books told from the viewpoint of the girls. Originally the stories focused on various periods of American history, but was expanded to include characters and stories from contemporary life. Aside from the original American Girl dolls, the buyer also has the option to purchase dolls that look like themselves. The options for the line of Truly Me dolls include eye color, face mold, skin color, hair texture, and hair length. A variety of related clothing and accessories is also available. A service for ordering a custom-made doll with features and clothing specified by the owner, dubbed Create Your Own, has also been introduced in 2017.
|American Girl Dolls|
The current logo for American Girl
|Created by||Pleasant Rowland|
|Original work||Dolls and books released by Pleasant Company (1986)|
|Book(s)||See American Girl (book series)|
|Films and television|
|Film(s)||See American Girl (film series)|
|Video game(s)||See American Girl (video game series)|
|Toy(s)||Various (dolls and playsets)|
|Clothing||Dress Like Your Doll|
Pleasant Company was founded in 1986 by Pleasant Rowland, and its products were originally purchasable by mail order only. In 1998, Pleasant Company became a subsidiary of Mattel. The company has been awarded the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award eight times.
Dolls and accessories
Molly McIntire, one of the first American Girl dolls
|Company||Pleasant Company/Götz, Mattel|
|Slogan||Follow your inner star|
The Historical Characters line of 18-inch dolls, which were derived from the 18-inch dolls made by Götz in West Germany (known as Germany from October 1990) during the late 1980s to the 1990s, were initially the main focus of Pleasant Company, founded by Pleasant Rowland in 1986. This product line aims to teach aspects of American history through a six-book series from the perspective of a girl living in that time period. Pleasant Rowland came up with the idea after she returned from a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, where she noticed there was a significant void in the toy market for younger aged dolls and saw an opportunity to provide an alternative to baby and adult dolls. Although the books are written for girls who are at least eight years old, they endeavor to cover significant topics such as child labor, child abuse, poverty, racism, slavery, animal abuse and war in manners appropriate for the understanding and sensibilities of their young audience.
In 1994, Pleasant Company released a line of contemporary dolls called American Girl of Today. In 2006, the product line was renamed Just Like You; it was changed again in 2010 to My American Girl, and in 2015 to Truly Me. This line has included eighty-eight different dolls over the years. Each doll has a different combination of face mold, skin tone, eye color, and hair color, length, texture, and/or style. American Girl states that this variety allows customers to choose dolls that "represent the individuality and diversity of today's American girls." A wide variety of contemporary clothing, accessories, and furniture is also available, and there are regular releases and retirements to update this line. Each year, a Girl of the Year doll is released who has her own special talent; for example, Mia St. Clair, the Girl of the Year for 2008, was an ice skater, and Marisol Luna, the Girl of the Year for 2005, was a dancer.
Bitty Baby is a line of 15" baby dolls targeted to children aged three and older. They are cheaper than the 18" dolls, and currently retail at $60 each.
Hopscotch Hill School was released by American Girl in 2003. The dolls were 16-inch (41 cm) tall, came with jointed limbs and painted eyes, and had a slimmer overall body shape. They, along with the stories which came with the dolls written by Valerie Tripp, were aimed at elementary-age girls from four to six years old, and were sold until 2006.
A reboot of the Historical Characters line dubbed as BeForever was launched in August 2014, complete with redesigned outfits, a two-volume compilation of previously-released books, and a "Journey Book" for each character, with players taking the role of a present-day girl who found her way to the past and met up with one of the Historical girls. The line also coincided with the relaunch of Samantha Parkington, whose collection was previously discontinued in 2008.
In June 2016, American Girl unveiled Wellie Wishers, a separate doll line similar to Hopscotch Hill School aimed for younger children and with a focus on the outdoors, positioning it between Bitty Baby and the BeForever/Girl of the Year/Truly Me dolls. As the name implies, dolls from the line wear Wellington (wellie) boots, and have a body design distinct from the classic, Götz-derived American Girl dolls. The line was released on June 23, 2016. The names of the Wellie Wishers are: Willa, Camille, Kendall, Emerson, and Ashlyn.
In February 2017, American Girl released a new line of 18" dolls called contemporary characters. The first doll in the line was Tenney Grant, an aspiring country singer and songwriter. Other dolls of the contemporary line include Logan, Tenney's bandmate and American Girl's first ever boy doll, and Z Yang, who is interested in photography and making stop motion videos.
In December 2019, there is a report of declining sales for The American Girl Doll Brand. Following four years of declining sales at Mattel, American Girls sales rose 13% in the fourth quarter of 2020.
In 2004, American Girl teamed with Julia Roberts's Red Om production company and to create the first American Girl direct-to-video movie, Samantha: An American Girl Holiday. The film spawned a franchise that was followed by Felicity: An American Girl Adventure (2005), Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front (2006), along with the 2008 theatrically released film Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. In 2009, HBO premiered An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong. In July 2012, American Girl released a direct-to-video movie, McKenna Shoots for the Stars. A seventh movie based on Saige Copeland's stories entitled Saige Paints the Sky was released in July 2013, and a television film entitled Isabelle Dances Into the Spotlight, based on Girl of the Year 2014 Isabelle Palmer, was released in 2014. A ninth film based on 2015 Girl of the Year Grace Thomas was released under the title An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success, with Olivia Rodrigo playing the title role. The tenth film, Lea To The Rescue, was released on June 14, 2016, with Maggie Elizabeth Jones playing Lea Clark.
A live-action web special based on Melody Ellison's stories entitled An American Girl Story - Melody 1963: Love Has to Win was released by Amazon, starring Marsai Martin as the title character. Love Has to Win was then followed by An American Girl Story - Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas, starring Alyvia Alyn Lind as Maryellen Larkin and released by Amazon on November 25, 2016. Another film entitled An American Girl Story - Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance, starring Nina Lu as Ivy Ling and Hannah Nordberg as Julie Albright, was released by Amazon on March 24, 2017.
American Girl Store
The American Girl store sells American Girl dolls, clothes, and accessories. The first store, the 35,000 square-foot American Girl Place, designed by Nancye Green of Donovan/Green, debuted in Chicago in 1998. It was followed by stores in New York City and Los Angeles.
In May 2014, Mattel American Girl opened new stores in Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada in partnership with Indigo Books and Music. The company has also expressed interest in other overseas ventures, as they are seeing orders from Europe and Latin America. In 2015, the company announced that they were expanding operations in Mexico with two stores at El Palacio de Hierro’s Perisur and Interlomas in Mexico City, and a third in Polanco.
- Charlotte, North Carolina — SouthPark
- Chicago, Illinois — Water Tower Place
- Columbus, Ohio — Easton Town Center
- Dallas, Texas — Dallas Galleria
- Hershey, Pennsylvania — Tanger Outlets
- Houston, Texas — Memorial City Mall
- Los Angeles, California — The Grove at Farmers Market
- Miami, Florida — The Falls
- Nashville, Tennessee — CoolSprings Galleria
- New York City, New York — Rockefeller Plaza
- Orlando, Florida — The Florida Mall
- San Francisco, California — Stanford Shopping Center
- Washington, D.C. — Tysons Corner Center
- Seattle, Washington — Alderwood Mall Closed February 2021
- Scottsdale, Arizona — Scottsdale Quarter Closed September 2020
- Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kansas Closed July 2020
- North Point Mall in Atlanta, Georgia Closed July 2020
- Park Meadows in Denver, Colorado Closed July 2020
- City Centre Mirdif in Dubai Closed Early 2020
- Mall of the Emirates in Dubai Closed Early 2020
- CF Sherway Gardens in Toronto, Canada Closed August 2019
- Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota Closed March 2019
- Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts Closed March 2019
- Centro Comercial Perisur in Mexico City, Mexico Closed 2018
- Paseo Interlomas in Interlomas, Mexico Closed 2018
- Polanco in Mexico City, Mexico Closed 2018
- Chesterfield Mall in Chesterfield, Missouri Closed February 2018
- Outlet Shoppes in Oshkosh, Wisconsin Closed July 2016
The first temporary boutique opened in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Ala Moana Center, running from October 4, 2014, to April 2015.
American Girl opened several temporary locations during the holiday season in 2016 in an attempt to reach more customers. In August 2016, a temporary location was set up in Novi, Michigan a suburb of Detroit in Twelve Oaks Mall which closed on January 28, 2017. In July 2017, a temporary location opened in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the Crabtree Valley Mall; to be opened until January 28, 2018.
The American Girl magazine was run by the American Girl company. It was started by the Pleasant Company in Middleton, Wisconsin in 1992, with the first issue dated January 1993. Aimed towards girls ages 8–14, the bimonthly magazine included articles, recipes, advice columns, fiction, arts and crafts, and activity ideas. American Girl announced in late 2018 that the January/February 2019 issue would be the magazine's last.
Online marketing and philanthropy
American Girl launched Innerstar University, an online virtual world featuring the My American Girl contemporary doll line, on July 13, 2010. Access to the online world is via a Campus Guide, bundled with purchase of a My American Girl doll, which contains an access code for the creation of a doll avatar that then navigates the various games, shops, and challenges of the virtual campus of Innerstar U. In 2015, when My American Girl dolls were changed to Truly Me dolls, this website was closed down. The launch was simultaneous with Shine on Now, a fund-raising effort Kids In Distressed Situations, National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions, National Wildlife Federation, and Save the Children charities. The company has also donated "almost $500,000" over several years to national non-profit homeless housing group HomeAid. These contributions are mainly through its Project Playhouse program.
The company has drawn criticism for the expense of the dolls, which cost $115 without accessories as of December 2014. Buyers can easily spend more than $600 for a doll, outfits, accessories and lunch in the company's store in New York. Some aspects of the doll's characters and history have also provoked controversy. Some observers questioned why Addy, American Girl's first African-American historical character, was portrayed first as a slave (in later stories Addy and her family gain their freedom after the Civil War), while Cecile Rey, American Girl's second black historical character, was portrayed as a well-to-do black girl in New Orleans. American Girl later went on with releasing their first African-American Girl of the Year, Gabriela McBride, who is portrayed as a dancer, artist, and poet. In 2005, residents of Pilsen (a neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois) criticized a passage in the book associated with the Latina-American doll Marisol, claiming it inaccurately depicted their neighborhood as dangerous. A senior public relations associate for American Girl responded to critics saying: “We feel that this brief passage has been taken out of context in the book." The 2009 limited-edition release of Gwen, a homeless American Girl character, was also controversial.
In 2005, some pro-life and Catholic groups criticized the company for donating funds to the organization Girls, Inc., which supports underprivileged girls and promotes abortion rights and LGBT acceptance.
The American Girl Place store in New York City was the center of a labor dispute with Actors' Equity Association (AEA). On August 3, 2006, 14 of the 18 adult actors at the store's now defunct theater went on strike. AEA reached a two-year contract effective April 1, 2008. All American Girl Place theatres were subsequently closed in September of that year.
In May 2014, the company was met with criticism on social media over its decision to discontinue four characters from the historical collection, two of them, namely African-American Cécile Rey and Chinese-American Ivy Ling, representing ethnic minorities. They however defended their move as a business decision, as they decided to "move away from the character-friend strategy within the line". A petition has since been filed through the activist group 18MillionRising.org for the company to provide a replacement for Ivy. The company has also drawn criticism for its recent focus on the contemporary line, specifically the Girl of the Year characters and their backstory, to which was viewed as lacking depth and more important issues in comparison to the Historical/BeForever characters' backstories. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic series creator Lauren Faust also expressed her concern and criticism of the line in a Twitter post, stating it "was once radically positive for girls before it was homogenized for money".
In July 2020 an internet meme in the form of a parody advertisement for a fictional Girl of the Year character depicted as a personification of the "Karen" stereotype, wearing a track suit, bob haircut and openly carrying a semi-automatic pistol while defiantly violating face mask guidelines mandated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, provoked criticism from American Girl who took umbrage to the use of their name and trade dress, stating that they were "disgusted" by a post from brand strategist Adam Padilla under the online persona "Adam the Creator", and "are working with the appropriate teams at American Girl to ensure this copyright violation is handled appropriately." Boing Boing however expressed doubts over the merits of American Girl's proposed legal action against the "Karen" parodies citing the Streisand effect, though it has also noted the debate on whether the satirical intent of the parody advertisement is protected by law.
Permanent underwear controversy
American Girl attracted considerable criticism in February 2017 when they announced that they will be changing the dolls' bodies to incorporate permanently stitched panties on contemporary dolls and certain BeForever character dolls, namely Maryellen, Melody and Julie. Public reaction to the permanent underwear—the first major change since the transition to flesh-colored bodies in 1991 following the release of the Felicity doll—was overwhelmingly negative, as fans of the franchise complained that it stifles customization and devalued a well-established and successful brand "from heirloom quality to be passed down for generations to low-quality retail."
The company then reversed its decision in a Facebook post in May 2017, stating that any existing or upcoming dolls from the line will revert to the old body design, and customers who bought a doll with permanent underwear are eligible for a "one-time" exchange to have the dolls retrofitted with conventional torsos. In addition, the company has switched back to the old "iconic boutique box" packaging following complaints by collectors who deemed the new boxes to be inferior and more susceptible to damage.
YouTube videos made with American Girl Dolls are becoming increasingly popular. In 2015, the American Girl fan community, more specifically the practice of creating and uploading American Girl doll-based stop motion videos, (AGSM for short) was featured in a news report for BBC News' Trending site, along with interviews and videos from several prominent doll community members. Besides stop-motion animations and music videos set to popular music, the report covers recurring subject matters in the said clips such as cyberbullying and other social issues among children and teenagers, along with doll customization, photoshoots and unboxing videos showing new and discontinued clothes, accessories and dolls from the company.
Besides YouTube, social media services such as Instagram and Facebook serve as platforms for fans of the toy line, spawning a community called AGIG, or American Girl Instagram, who photograph their dolls and post their photos on the service. Although mostly made up of girls usually around the age of 12–18, a number of boys and adults also participate and congregate on AGIG.
American Girl's teenage fans, particularly ones on AGTube and AGIG, will meet up with other fans at American Girl stores. At the release of Lea Clark and Gabriela McBride, certain prominent community members were included in the "Clue" videos released by American Girl. At the release of Z Yang, American Girl hosted meetups at their New York City flagship store and at their Dallas location.
In 2019, the American Girls Podcast, a book-by-book exploration of the series, launched. Co-hosted by historians Allison Horrocks and Mary Mahoney, each episode discusses one book from the series, contextualizing the story presented and making connections to elements of pop culture. The podcast has received positive attention from many media outlets, including the New York Times.
- Outside of the Bitty Twins line, whose dolls consist of fraternal twins; Logan is the first male character doll and the first male doll in American Girl's mainline roster.
- "Oppenheimer Toy Award". Toyportfolio.com. Archived from the original on 2006-04-21. Retrieved 2006-05-04.
- Falligant, Erin; Calkhoven, Laurie; Anton, Carrie (6 September 2016). American Girl: Ultimate Visual Guide. Tripp, Valerie. DK Children. ISBN 978-1465444967.
- "Meet History: The Original American Girl Dolls". CompleteSet. 2016-03-20. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
- "Company History". American Girl. Archived from the original on 2012-12-16. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "American Girl Unveils Truly Me™ Doll Line and Helps Girls Explore and Discover Who They Truly Are". Business Wire. 2015-05-21. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "Collecting Hopscotch Hill". American Girl Playthings. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Mac Kay, Allie; Cruz, Nancy (27 August 2014). "American Girl 'BeForever' Collection". KTLA. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
- Fisher, Daniela (28 August 2014). "Mattel intros new American Girls line". Kidscreen. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
- Menza, Kaitlin (15 June 2016). "New American Girl Doll Line - WellieWishers". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
- "American Girl is in Free Fall". 2019-12-17.
- Whitten, Sarah (2021-02-10). "American Girl sales grow for the first time in 4 years, a sign Mattel's turnaround is working". CNBC. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
- "An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- Cohen, Steven (4 March 2015). "'An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success' Blu-ray Announced for June". High-Def Digest. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- Cavassuto, Maria (25 August 2016). "TV News: Marsai Martin of 'Black-ish' Becomes First American Girl". Variety. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
- Barsanti, Sam (25 August 2016). "Black-ish's Marsai Martin cast as American Girl Melody". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
- Raynor, Madeline (3 November 2016). "This American Girl Christmas special trailer will warm your heart — exclusive". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Lavin, Maud. "Where the Girls Go". epdf.tips. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- Diamond, Nina (May 2009). "American Girl and the Brand Gestalt: Closing the Loop on Sociocultural Branding Research". Journal of Marketing. 73 (3): 118–134. doi:10.1509/jmkg.73.3.118. JSTOR 20619026. S2CID 168036907.
- "American Girl to open outlet store". PennLive.com. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
- Strauss, Marina (29 October 2013). "American Girl dolls coming to Canada's Indigo stores". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- "Step aside, Barbie. American Girl dolls coming to Canada". Toronto Star. October 29, 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- "American Girl debuts in Canada with boutiques in two Indigo stores". Financial Post. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- Rhee, Minna (May 2, 2014). "American Girl dolls arrive in Canada at stores in Toronto, Vancouver". Global News. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
- "Mattel sends American Girl abroad - Behind the Storefront". MarketWatch. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- Schuyler, David. "American Girl expanding into Mexico - Milwaukee - Milwaukee Business Journal". American City Business Journals. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
- "American Girl® Expands into Mexico - MarketWatch". MarketWatch. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
- "'American Girl Stores That Have Closed'". American Girl Doll News. Retrieved 2020-07-17.
- Shimogawa, Duane (13 April 2015). "American Girl closing Hawaii test store at Alla Moana Center this month".
- Shimogawa, Duane (4 September 2014). "American Girl opening first Hawaii store at Ala Moana Center next month". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
- "American Girl tries temporary stores to reach more customers". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
- "American Girl is bringing its pop-up store back to Raleigh". newsobserver. Retrieved 2018-01-16.
- James S. O'Rourke (2007). The Business Communication Casebook: A Notre Dame Collection (2nd ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-324-54509-8.
- "Children's Magazine Markets Paying Professional Rates". Eugie Foster. Archived from the original on November 24, 2015. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
- "American Girl Magazine". Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- Karakus, Nesli (June 30, 2010). "American Girl launches online charity donation campaign". Internet Retailer. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- Newman, Judy (June 29, 2010). "American Girl invites girls to give, customize dolls — and return to the company's website". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "American Girl's "Homeless" Doll Sparks Outrage". KTLA News. October 5, 2009.
- "Donor Highlight". HomeAid. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- Thompson, Caroline (3 December 2014). "How to save on American Girl, LEGO, and more of Google's top 10 'most searched' toys". Christian Science Monitor.
- Fierro, Christina (9 October 2010). "How much does an American Girl doll really cost?". WalletPop.
- Salkin, Allen (May 22, 2009). "American Girl's Journey to the Lower East Side". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "The First Black American Girl Of The Year Doll Is Here". Black America Web. 2017-01-09. Retrieved 2018-01-16.
- "Girl of the Year: Gabriela | American Girl". www.americangirl.com. Retrieved 2018-01-16.
- "Marisol in the Middle: 'American' Doll Upsets Latino Neighbors". News.ncmonline.com. Archived from the original on 2006-03-07. Retrieved 2005-04-23.
- Peyser, Andrea (September 24, 2009). "'Homeless' doll costs $95 (hairstyling extra)". New York Post.
- "Flap Over "Homeless" American Girl Doll". CBS News. September 26, 2009.
- "THE AMERICAN GIRL PROMISE". Store. Americangirl.com. Archived from the original on 2007-05-18. Retrieved 2006-12-26.
- Alfano, Sean (December 21, 2005). "Dolls Draw Conservatives' Ire". CBS News. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
- Robertson, Campbell (August 4, 2006). "Actors at American Girl Place Store Go on Strike". NYTimes.com. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved 2006-08-04.
- "American Girl Place Theatre". Actors' Equity. April 10, 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- Kindelan, Katie (28 May 2014). "American Girl Rebuts Critics After Dropping Minority Dolls - ABC News". Retrieved 29 May 2014.
- Clehane, Diane (8 July 2014). "Why Is American Girl Rebranding Their Historical Line Without An Asian Doll?". Forbes. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
- Mccall, Stephanie (17 June 2015). "The Evolution of the American Girl Collection and How We Should Respond". Business 2 Community. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
- Faust, Lauren (13 May 2013). ""Even "American Girls" was once radically positive for girls before it was homogenized for money."". Twitter. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
- McCarter, Reid. "American Girl calls manager over "Karen" doll parody". News. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
- Beschizza, Rob (6 July 2020). "I found out about this amusing Karen parody of American Girl dolls because they want it taken down". Boing Boing.
- Lutkin, Aimée (8 February 2017). "Everyone's Really Upset That They Can't Take the Panties Off These American Girl Dolls Anymore". Jezebel. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
- "American Girl doll underwear design causes controversy". NBC News. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Kimble, Lindsay. "American Girl Dolls Underwear Controversy". People. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
- "Following criticism, American Girl goes back to removable underwear". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- Kimble, Lindsay (22 May 2017). "American Girl Dolls: Separate Underwear After Backlash". People. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
- Lutkin, Aimée (22 May 2017). "Those Upset About Not Being Able to Take Off American Girl Doll Underwear Have Been Vindicated". Jezebel. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
- Thomchak, Anne-Marie (25 March 2015). "AGSM - The secret world of animated doll videos on YouTube - BBC Trending". YouTube. BBC News. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- Perry, Douglas (12 May 2015). "It's alive! Alive! Why stop-motion American Girl doll movies are sweeping the Internet". OregonLive.com. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- "#BBCtrending: The secret world of animated doll videos - BBC News". BBC News. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
- Williams, Audra (13 July 2015). "Read this: A peek inside Instagram's tween American Girl doll fandom". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- "These adults are really into dolls". New York Post. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- Lyons, Margaret. "'American Girl' & Me". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-03.