Homeless Doll – Political Indoctrination or Important Social Commentary?

Andrea Peyser New York Post column caught my eye today. As a mother of a 10-year-old girl, anything with American Girl dolls in it is a must read. While I share Ms. Peyser’s distaste for the price and often cultish nature of the entire American Girl empire, I was somewhat surprised by the tone of her recent article on new American Girl doll Gwen. Gwen Thompson is part of this year’s “Girl of the Year” collection. Each year, for those of you without a daughter between the ages of 4-14, American Girl) introduces a “Girl of the Year” doll. As with all American Girl dolls, these dolls come with a story and many times a collection of one or two friends.

The girl of the year this year is Chrissa and her story is focused on the issue of bullying. In the course of this story we meet two additional dolls, Gwen and Sonali. Gwen is a girl whose father left the family and they are now living out of a car, homeless. Peyser’s column quickly highlights the ways in which she believes that this story line for a doll is inappropriate suggesting that it will lead young girls to believe that men are bad and women helpless. She goes on to call doll a tool of political indoctrination although I am unclear as to the political message that parent company Mattel may have been trying to send.

As I mentioned, I have my own set of concerns about the American Girl culture with its overpriced dolls and catalog of accessories, many of which come in around $100 too. Had Peyser led with the irony of a company that hocs $100 dolls promoting awareness of homelessness and economic hardship, she would have earned a loyal follower in me. However in