Yes, my mom gave me this haircut and I have been so ever so thankful for it ever since, but thinking back, I absolutely loved it because it was the same as my American Girl Doll, Kit. It is hard to tell in this photo, but we are wearing the same t-shirt, one with a dog named ‘Coconut’ on it. While writing this, I looked back to try and remember what the dog’s name was, and I stumbled across some information about this white dog. In 2000, the dog was released to consumers of American Girl as a male dog, and later, in 2001, was re-marketed as a female dog to be more attractive to its buyers, girls.
In Jacqueline Reid-Walsh’s essay on “Girlhood”, she talks about dolls being “..connected girls to fashion-doll play and argued that this play predicated a girl’s life-course.” (93). Kit’s life, style and looks were exactly the way I wanted my life to be as a young girl. I highly encouraged my mom to buy me her clothes, maybe even cut my hair, and get a magazine cover posing with her as a gift for my birthday. Seeing this photo again and thinking of connections to our class with this, brought up the question in my mind: Is this okay? Is it okay for young girls to be looking at a fake story of a doll and desiring for their lives to be just like the dolls?
This may seem innocent, a girl wanting to be like a doll, but does this set unrealistic expectations for what girlhood should be like? Yes, the stories about these American Girls have true, historic content, like Kaya in “The Journey Begins”. Here in this story, Kaya lives a pretty independent life for a girl of her age, and tells of the good and troubling times of her childhood. The traits Kaya possess, strong, independent and brave, are all admirable traits girls should strive to be like, but what about dolls that aren’t known for their courage and bravery. An example of this would be Barbies. Barbies have perfect bodies, perfect hair and are known for their looks and fashion. What happens when girls start to think that is what they need to look like, because the dolls they love do these things. I am not trying to say that we should stop letting girls play with dolls, because they are a great toy for girls and even boys, but are there unrealistic expectations set for girls wanting to dress up and be like dolls? Girls need to be taught that just because they love playing with their dolls, does not mean they need to BE their doll. Stressing the difference between pretend play, should independent from the character development of the girl playing with the doll and needs to be to all young girls during their ‘girlhood’.