When I was a wee one, the arrival of the American Girl catalog was a big day in my house—a masterful piece of marketing that worked wonders on my tiny brain, setting afire a yearning for overpriced, historical doll accessories, books, and the dolls themselves. I was routinely denied the dolls because of their price point, but thank god I’m an adult woman with my own money now because the Molly doll my father would not buy me in my childhood can now be mine.
In honor of the 35th anniversary of, uh, the brand, I guess, American Girl is re-releasing the original historical dolls for a limited time only. The gals will be wearing their original outfits and will come with their first book, complete with the “vintage” book covers, which makes me feel like a dusty bag of bones, awaiting death. This is cute news for the children for whom these dolls are appropriate, but something tells me that this re-release is slyly aimed at the hearts of older millennial mothers, eager to relive their childhoods.
Considering the other American Girl dolls on offer, which include this child of the ’80s and this aspiring actor, I welcome the return of our historical sisters. Molly McIntire is the only reason I learned about victory gardens and Boston brown bread baked in a can. Samantha Harkington, the prissy little princess, taught me valuable lessons about rich bitches. (Avoid them.) Kirsten Larson was the original hygge influencer, Addy Walker had the unfortunate and ultimately misguided job of trying to teach 9-year-olds about slavery, and all I remember is that Felicity had red hair, a good dress, and lived on a farm or maybe a plantation? These aren’t life lessons per se, but I don’t know if the children of 2021 are interested in learning about dusty-ass olden times before iPhones and the Renegade.
A brief note: I am incensed that they were not re-released with the full complement of accessories, which were the best part of the catalogs. It would’ve been thrilling to receive a Molly McIntire doll for Christmas when I was 10, but I would’ve done an actual crime for Kirsten Larson’s Scandi-meets-the prairie chic bedroom set or her Midsummer outfit, which I see is for sale on eBay for $150. The point of the accessories was to ostensibly further the history lessons from the books, but really, I think they awakened a passion for interior design. Much like older sneaker aficionados who spend their money now on shoes they wanted but couldn’t afford when they were younger, the American Girl gang that’s reassembled is for the women who wanted the dolls then, and can have them now, if they chose. I won’t be making these choices with my money, but it’s nice to know that I can.