American Girl Dolls Are Total Sellouts

Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

R.I.P., American Girl Dolls. Today The Atlantic traces the sad changes that have befallen the doll company since Mattel purchased it in 1998, concluding that the discontinuation of Kirsten, Felicity, and Samantha "represents a lost sensibility about teaching girls to understand thorny historical controversies and build political consciousness." I don't know if the famously overpriced dolls were ever "radical," as The Atlantic claims, but their accompanying books were probably a generation of upper-middle-class girls' first exposure to sad stuff like slavery, the persecution of Americans, and child labor. Now those historical characters have been sidelined in favor of contemporary Girls of the Year, who have first-world problems like wanting to grow vegetables organically and needing to host a bake sale to raise money for arts education — "Just Like You." The writer conveniently omits the recession-minded 2009 Girl of the Year, whose homeless backstory was universally found to be insensitive, considering the doll's price tag.