American Girl. It sounds so wholesome and non-threatening. So very normal and accessible. It brings to mind images of red, white and blue. Of apple pie, a tall glass of milk and a little girl's ballet class. It makes me think of girlhood in this beautiful country of ours. I'm no marketing guru but I am sure that is what the makers of American Girl were hoping to evoke when they named their company and started churning out dolls and everything a doll could ever possibly need. What it probably doesn't bring to mind is a maxed out credit card, a young child bawling their eyes out and a woman heading into a downward spiral questioning all of the life choices that have led her to this point.
Welcome to American Girl. Where the dolls are meticulously crafted, their outfits are pricier than your finest yoga pants and your financial security is only a few pieces of tiny doll furniture away from total ruin. My daughter got Molly from my parents for Christmas last year (yes, she is now discontinued, no I am not selling her on Ebay) and we were officially headed down the rabbit hole that is American Girl. Everything Molly needs costs major coin. Her bed is almost the same price as a toddler bed. Her clothes cost more than Gymboree. It is $10 to replace her shitty plastic glasses (I know because we lost them within a week) and if you want her to have any fun at all, be prepared to spend more on her sports equipment than your own children's. This is a lucrative industry, no question.
That is why, as with other things I cannot afford, I will make fun of it. I have gone to The Bad Place for you and plucked from the pages of the American Girl catalog the 10 biggest wastes of money that you can buy for your new little family member. Try to hold in the contents of your stomach, everybody:
1. This Complete Disappointment Of A Snack Cart- $150
I say disappointment for a few reasons. For it's $150 price tag, I would expect it to come with some bonus Mom Snacks. That's just good form from a company hoping to coax a mortgage payment's worth of merchandise out of you. Also, this thing is only 20 inches high. You could buy a legit kid-sized play kitchen for less than $150 and your kid can make tiny Molly be her sous chef. I call bullshit.
2. This WTF Assortment Of Costume Designing Crapola- $275
This complete joke of a product is for the newest American Girl doll- Isabelle. It purports to combine Isabelle's love for dancing and sewing ALL IN ONE BREATHTAKING SET!! All it does for me is combine my disdain for wasting money and my eye-rolling for making yet another female doll who is obsessed with dance class and pretty dresses. I want to see American Girl Hayley the Hockey Player.
3. This Tent That Only Fits A Fucking Doll- $85
When searching for items for this post, I came across this one and at first, dismissed it. At $85, I thought it surely must be a tent for both a real live girl AND her doll and while a little pricey, I could almost understand $85 for an actual play tent your kid can fit into. Upon reading further, my eyes widened in a mixture of horror and disbelief- this tent is JUST for a doll. But wait! It comes with it's very own lantern THAT ACTUALLY LIGHTS UP. Forget it- this is completely reasonable.
4. This Parlor Set For A Goddamn Doll- $300
First of all, no 8-year old girl is going to be entertained for more than 10 minutes by sitting her doll in front of a pretend fireplace. I mean, really. "JEEVES! Fetch us some tea and scones!" said no 3rd grader, ever. There is also the matter of this PART of one room costing more than a whole actual dollhouse. More than two actual dollhouses. Let that marinate in your brain juices for a moment.
5. This Pointless Game Table And Lounge Chair- $106
If you had $106 you were planning to set on fire and throw in the toilet I might say that this lounge chair and game table is a better way to use it. However, I doubt any of you have that kind of scratch laying around so let me just say this might be the biggest waste of money in this entire catalog. Buy this set so your doll has a place to sit during game night? Is it too plebeian to just have the doll sit next to your kid on the Big People couch?
6. Doll Outfits That Cost More Than Your Own- $30-60
Depending on how fancy we are talking, outfits for your 18" doll can cost as much as your jeans from Loft. If that doesn't get your panties in a twist, consider the fact that you can buy a matching set of these clothes for your actual child from the website for not much more. Why so much money for so little fabric? American Girl, you are making me ask some hard-hitting questions.
7. A Bed For A Doll That Costs As Much As Some Real Beds- $100-200
There are several models of doll bed in the American Girl catalog and the one in the image above is one of the more reasonable at only $94. The reason I chose to showcase this bed instead of a fancier one is the fact that this is Kit's doll bed. Kit's doll back story is that she is a child of the Great Depression. I found it to be delicious irony that the books focus on her meager life but her merch in 2014 is worth enough to outfit Kit's entire house with furniture in 1932.
8. A Doll Changing Table That Will Be Just As Useless As Your Real Changing Table- $120
I know we have argued before about whether a changing table is necessary but I think one thing we can all agree on is that $120 is positively ridiculous for a changing table for a doll. I think my daughter can just change her baby dolls on the floor like Mommy did.
9. A Feeding Chair That Is Nicer Than Your Baby's Real High Chair- $42
I know $42 isn't an insane amount of money but considering you can buy a REAL feeding chair from Fisher-Price for $30 it just makes no sense at all to bother with this fuckery. Buy your kid the Fisher-Price chair and at least once she tires of it you can sell it on Craigslist and make half your money back.
10. A Bullshit Fake Camp Stove And Plastic Play Food- $58
This camp stove is a complete crock. It makes "clicking" sounds when you turn the knobs- for $58 it can't even beep like a real oven? It includes pretend food that you can buy metric shit-ton of at Target for $10 and also, a special storage bag! I can feel the savings adding up.