When Did Mattel Buy American Girl
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This blog series "Don't Buy... Instead Try..." intends to point out some of the most egregiously unethical, wasteful, and environmentally ridiculous companies out there. Instead of dwelling on their considerable awfulness, the series will focus on the other options you have for purchasing.Every purchase we make is a vote for the kind of world we want. Every single purchase is political. Every single purchase has ethical ramifications, and every single purchase should be approached with a spirit of stewardship. We can change the world by refusing to fund extreme greed, the mistreatment of other human beings, and the trashing of the environment. We need to stay aware of the many choices available to us. Will we get it right every time No. But if we all make little changes, we can send companies a new message, that consumers will show up if they do the right thing, are transparent, and focus on more ethical manufacturing. from The Odyssey OnlineEvery girl in America in the 90's got the American Girl catalogs as regular mail to flip through. I think I read the vast majority of the historical fiction books that went with each doll. They covered an amazing spread of American history, from slavery to immigration to the effect of war on families. Pretty impressive when you think about it, and the dolls actually won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award multiple times for their educational value as well as play.I don't remember being impressed deeply by the historical accuracy, but I loved the outfits. You could buy the dolls pajamas, dress up clothes, all the good stuff. I think Samantha was my favorite because she had the best stuff, though eventually Molly won me over. I mean, who can fight mid-century with glasses. I also went through an Addy phase and a Kiersten phase.Remember, I never owned one of these dolls, though I did have tons of their books. That's how great I thought they were. I had a favorite without ever owning one.So, it cuts me deep to do this to you, Molly.Now, the company looks very different. Many of these historical dolls have been phased out and they have mega American Girl Doll Stores, not just the catalog. Go ahead, accuse me of just being bitter that they have discontinued all of my childhood dolls. It might be a little true, but it is only part of the story...American Girls are all made in China. They aren't all that American at all.American Girl dolls are also very expensive- 115 dollars a doll without any accessories. When a product made with cheap labor is this pricey, it's worth it to us to ask where the rest of that money goes to. Maybe before this was because the Pleasant Company still manufactured stateside, and they were only available by mail order. In 1998, the company became a subsidiary of Mattel.Did you know Mattel (of Barbie fame) also owns American Girl dolls Mattel is another company that started out "All-American" but have since moved all of their labor overseas to reduce costs. So it is hard to feel too excited about Barbie's more "inclusive" line up when Mattel just got busted (yet again) for unsafe conditions for their workers. In 2015, both Mattel and Hasbro (the two most mainstream toy brands) failed inspections for the safety and treatment of their workers. They did so badly that they failed most of the Chinese labor laws for hiring and breaks. They began to be under scrutiny after a string of suicides by a sister company's workers. I hate this. I hate thinking that a child's toy, a desperate grab for a teeny bit of money, could be that destructive.Equally disturbing is Mattel's history of very unsafe toys being made in these places. In 2007, the company recalled Barbies, Cars toys, and more because they had lead paint and unsafe magnets in them. 19 million toys had to be recalled for these reasons. Don't fool yourself, companies like these, with incredibly lax and irresponsible regard for their workers don't care more about you. If they can get away with poisoning your kids to make money, they probably will. Not exactly the American Dream, and a far cry from the really thoughtful designs that the American Girls began with.Want to read more about how Mattel and Hasbro try to cheat their audits and refuse to comply with labor standards Ethical Consumer has written multiple reviews on this exact topic.Perhaps because of Barbie's clearer association with this nastiness, the company chooses not to connect the two brands, but they are both made by the same people. Yuck.So, don't buy American Girl Dolls, Instead Try... 1. Get them Used- Eh, this one is way tougher than most of what we have talked about, because they do still have a perceived value. On Ebay "American Girl" brings up 42,000 hits, but the dolls are actually a little more expensive. When I was a kid, the dolls were in a glass case in the library- serious business. So you can find old Molly's or Addy's, but they may be pretty expensive. You could also ask around on your local Buy Nothing, but again, perceived or emotional value might make these hard to part with.2. Cabullis Shop- This Etsy shop makes sweet personalized dolls, though the Frida Kahlo doll may be my favorite! I think it would be fun to look at more history for kids (especially girls) through real figures, and there are lots to choose from. from Roving One3. Roving One- These rag dolls are in a similar spirit, but I think they are a little more affordable. You may have to keep an eye out for one that speaks to you. I just think they are so adorable- those legs are ridiculously sweet and lanky. Plus, they are a whopping 75 dollars cheaper than an American Girl doll.from Riley Construction4. Riley Construction- I think these dolls, more so than any of these others have a distinct style. They also come in more iterations (including Mermaid). Maybe not historically accurate to the American Age of Mermaids, but they still look great!5. HollysDollShop - I think these custom dolls from Holly's Doll Shop are so sweet. I feel like the personalized style would be so special to a little kid. I learned doing research for this that Cabbage Patch Kids still make their all soft dolls in Cleveland! The ones with vinyl heads are imported, but you can get a made in America baby doll from them as well. They are expensive, but maybe worth it to you No matter what, I thought this was cool. If you are looking for something realistic or personalized, you can also check out Secrist Dolls, where you can order a doll or even get a set to make a doll on your own. Looking at even more dolls- Twiice Loved, Made with Luck, Le Petite Melina, and Little Side Kick.from Sew My GoodnessIf you already have an American Girl Doll...So you already bought one of these dolls or your kid received one as a gift. Don't panic! The key to living a green life isn't about being perfect, it's just about trying to do better. You can find tons of great accessories and clothes for the doll. And instead of shelling out for their way overpriced accessories, try looking on Etsy for cute clothes and accessories- tons are out there! Here are some stores that sell really cute accessories:My favorite- Sew My GoodnessBeezies Custom DollsFizzy Zig Zag (Star Wars Stuff)Little Doll ClosetJoDee PetitesHardwood FurnitureSandi's Dream CreationSweet FluttersCreative Kids FashionsLittle Prince CharlieHarper's Fashion CityMy Fair CottageFaux Real FoodSee how many options you have Tons. It may be slightly different from the vision you had for your kids and grandkids, but if they don't mind, why should you Skipping out on the American Girl doll is a vote for toy manufacturing using ethical labor. Because if you are going to buy a 100 dollar doll, shouldn't it at least have been made ethicallyWant more shopping inspiration Check out my Giant List of Shopping Lists.
With the limited-edition Girl of the Year dolls, there isn't a drawn-out waiting period for the items to disappear from stores. Historically, a Girl of the Year doll has been available on americangirl.com from the first of the year to the last of the year, although the company has added an extra year to that timeframe since Gabriela. Both the 2019 and 2018 dolls (Blaire Wilson and Luciana Vega) are still available for sale on the American Girl Doll website as of January 2, 2020.
Sometimes called "the Anti-Barbie" for moving beyond tired stereotypes by looking "normal" and "real", American Girl is distinct from Barbie even though they are owned by the same company and both are critical to the early development of children (Inness, 1998, 164). As the brand name suggests, the 18-inch American Girl dolls are girls rather than teenagers, and are therefore not sexualized (americangirls.com). Since the dolls are closer in age to their users, girls may relate more closely to them. Instead of being a platform for projecting into one's teenage future and serving as an iconic figure whose beauty status is near-unachievable as in Barbie's case, where "reality is not the intention" (Schwarz, 2005, 298), American Girls set good examples in communicating positive values (e.g. philanthropy, family values, and self reliance) which can help make positive differences in society (Inness, 1998, 166). Compared to Barbie, American Girls can be considered more realistic role models for young girls to emulate.
Unlike the European-inspired and internationally famous Barbie whose product portfolio includes "Barbies around the world" (barbie.com), American Girl is more "America-centric" (Inness, 1998, 175). There is great emphasis on educating girls on American history, since the brand's most popular product line features 13 fictional dolls representing nine historical eras and several ethnic groups in the United States (americangirl. com). The books that accompany the dolls create a narrative of a protagonist's life in her specific historical time period (Inness, 1998, 169). Although these stories take place in America's past that may be unfamiliar to them, contemporary American girls tend to create intricate backstories for their dolls, "intertwining content from the books with their own family histories" (Diamond, 2009; Sherry et. al., 2009, 118). This further illustrates the extent and influence of American Girl dolls on young American girls. 59ce067264