For those of you who aren't familiar with the New York Post's Andrea Peyser, she is a very furious person who, today, turned the force of her rage on the latest American Girl Doll - a topical doll:
Gwen Thompson, the newest addition to the American Girl family, is homeless. She's actually a secondary character, a companion to modern Girl of the Year, Chrissa Maxwell. According to Gwen's official American Girl wiki,
Gwen and her mother Janine fell on hard times when her father lost his job; they later lost the house as they were unable to keep up payments. Soon after, Gwen's father left them and they became homeless the fall before the start of the book's events. Initially, Gwen's mother has them live in their car until the winter comes; she then takes them to Sunrise House, a place for homeless women and children. Sunrise House helps them get on their feet and eventually get a new apartment.
While Peyser seems to have a bizarre and inherent animosity towards what she terms "these pricey little monsters," I can't help but agree that there's a pretty obvious irony in charging a hundred bucks for a toy that ostensibly teaches about the misfortunes of others - the whole thing feels very Liberal Victorian. American Girl has become a bit of a juggernaut for my tastes, I'm mad that they got rid of Samantha, but the dolls are wholesome and at their best they do teach a little something about history. And there are worse things than a fortunate child being aware of realities that could well be befalling children they know - or kids they never would otherwise. While Peyser decries the AG empire, I actually think it's important to remember that the books exist, too. When I was little, I couldn't affiord a Molly, but my library had all the books and I loved them. I don't think there's anything wrong with a senstive portrayal of a girl who happens to be in this situation - especially given that she's apparently smart, accomplished and a terrific musician.
That said, it's hard to know how a real-life girl in Gwen's position would feel about a rich classmate bringing such a doll to school. I'm guessing, less than thrilled! And, let's get real: only the wealthiest or most spoiled girls, those determined to have the entire cast, is going to want this one: seriously, if you can only get one American Girl, it's probably not going to be the second-banana with the sob story, but the wealthy star with the good wardrobe.
Gwen Thompson [AG Wiki]
'Homeless' Doll Costs $95 (Hairstyling Extra) [NY Post]