Bethany doesn’t play with dolls anymore, but every now and then I’ll talk with a mom of a younger girl who happens to still be very much in the AG doll phase. I don’t know what came over me tonight. Maybe it was thinking about culture in preparation for a Sunday School series I’ll be teaching at church later this month? Maybe.
I went on the AG website and was reminded why I was grateful when Bethany announced she had grown out of that phase of childhood.
Currently AG, from what I can tell, has two Asian American dolls. And both dolls are the sidekicks to a “main” doll. Again, finding affordable, quality, multicultural dolls is not the most pressing issue in the world, but it is a pretty typical parenting dilemma for many of us. Our kids want dolls, and while they might not immediately care whether or not its a blonde-haired, blue-eyed doll, some of us parents do care for a variety of reasons.
Anyway, these two dolls are the sidekicks, and of course I have my theory. (I’d love to hear yours if you have one.) My theory? They haven’t figured out how to create and then market an entire line of historical fiction-based matching outfits and accessories for girls and dolls based on the Japanese internment or the immigration/resettling patterns of East, South East and South Asians.
Oversimplifying Asian American history? Yes. And really, isn’t that what the line of dolls is? It makes history (or historical fiction) accessible for those who can afford it, but it isn’t without its share of stereotypes which in the hands of young girls can be a bit tricky.
“Sidekick!” – it makes me think of the movie “Sky High” where new students attending this special school for super hero-type kids had to show off their super hero skills. Cool skills like super-duper strength mean you go to the super hero classes. Other skills like turning into a rodent mean you are a “Sidekick!”
My favorite doll growing up was a little “rag” doll my mom made out of a pattern. She cut out two pieces – the front and the back – sewed and stuffed. Voila! The other doll I remember loving was my “life-sized Barbie-like doll”; she was a black doll! My parents couldn’t find an Asian doll so they figured better black than blonde I guess. I can’t say I remember noticing or caring. The dolls were mine, and that was all that mattered.
Is it always that simple?