The American Girl Doll – Made in China

Since I was a kid, I have heard wonderful things about the American Girl store in Chicago. Since my little girl came along, I planned to go get one for her too. This year I debated whether she was old enough to care for an American girl doll, knowing how cheap they aren’t. But finally I decided that she would do fine with it. They have a “Just Like You” doll that you can buy to match the features of the little girl getting it. I went to visit the store at their new location. Oh my goodness this place was a little girl’s heaven! This was the perfect gift to be from Santa Claus this year! The dolls were beautiful, the clothes were too! But expensive!

Geez, it was 105$ just for doll! Awww, but the store was hustling and bustling with little girls and their parents and their dolls. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so the Christmas mood was creeping on me. “My little girl is worth this.” I told myself. I picked out a little ballerina outfit, hmmmm 36$ more – but I guess it could be 2 outfits and you get a little (very little) book. Then I saw a Christmas dress on a doll, and it was beautiful! Red velvet . . . and the smallest matching “real girl” size would fit my little doll baby. :) But, the girls dress felt like it was lined with plastic-ey vinyl material. You know, like the dress up dresses you find at a department store.

So, I passed on that one. Next I saw the pajamas. Well, I found a cute matching set that looked pretty warm with snowflakes on the shirt. Good. Both outfits together were 58$ which seemed like a bargain because you save money by buying them together. And, the little doll’s jammies had little blue slippers to go with it!! Wait a minute though, the girl’s slippers not included in the “deal” they were 22$ more. I was beginning to think we might just get her the doll, the dance outfit and pick out a book for Christmas.

We could always come back for her birthday or something for a matching outfit thing. Yeah, that way she can pick out the one she’d love the best. (It would be so much more fun with her there, but I didn’t wanna ruin the surprise!) So, the last thing to do was find a book. Most of the books were only 9.95$. I picked up one that talked about minding your manners, and I looked at the back of the book and it said 8+ with a circle around it. That meant it was good for 8 year olds and over, but I figured manners are ok for anybody to read about. Then something caught my eye.

It said “Printed in China” above the barcode. I did a double take. I set the book back down. In all fairness, I am not one of those people who are against doing business in other countries, but this seemed different. I hadn’t seen many books that said “Printed in China” in fact, even the Christmas coloring books that I had purchased early that week in a dollar store were “Printed in the U.S.A.” So I looked at the little ballerina outfit box I had in my hands and flipped it over. And there it said, right above the barcode “Made in China”. I looked at it for a moment. Then I turned over the doll. And sort of prayerfully thinking “Please, not the doll too.” But there it was, in black and white: “Made in China”.

This past year we threw away a bag full of toys that had been recalled because lead paint was used on some toys with the same batch numbers as the ones we had purchased last Christmas. Who knows if the ones we had were “leaded”, but who has the time to go to your local health department and get toys tested for safety? Or who has time to package them all up and sent them to the designated addresses so the companies could possibly get you a replacement? Anyways, that is enough about that.

Suddenly, my American Girl doll didn’t look like the perfect present. The #13 “Just Like You” doll and all the others probably cost 2$ to make in a Chinese factory; and maybe 1$ to ship over to America, but the tax breaks would pay them back for the shipping right? And anyway, they stock them up on American Girl store shelves and sell them for one hundred and five dollars. And you know that every parent and grandparent is saying to themselves as they hand over their hard earned money, “It’s a lot, but my little girl is worth it.”

Sure, American Girl dolls and stores with their salons, and hospitals and theaters are so wonderful for little girls. But if you really think about it, it isn’t the popularity of this novelty doll, it isn’t the dresses or the accessories that are so pretty to just about any little girl (even me, and I’m 25 year old little girl). It’s about tradition. It’s about connecting with our daughters and wanting them to have beautiful things and experiences. We want for them to feel special. Even if it means going into debt, this is what we Americans are teaching our kids.

I didn’t buy the doll. I placed her back on the shelf and left the store. It was difficult to leave without a doll, but I told myself, “My little girl is worth it.” I had no idea what I was going to get her for Christmas (and I’m still working on it.) But, I’m not worried; I will find her something great. They say that you get what you pay for. I couldn’t justify buying the 2$ dollar doll for the 100$ name. But if it’s the name brands you like, might I suggest the American Girl Store? Where you can buy an American Girl doll, Made in CHINA.

Have the Merriest of Christmas’s
in 2008

moved from: – and as I imported I read it and it sounds I don’t like China products or something. Just to clarify, I love China and their culture is so vibrant and interesting. The point of this post, as I recall, was to point out the oxymoron of the dolls name.