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American Girl Doll Challenging Feminist Mothers

January 23, 2013 | Karin

Does the name Kirsten Larson sound familiar?

Her bio reads:

Kirsten Larson and her family arrive in America in 1854, after a long sea voyage. Everything looks so different from the life Kirsten knew back in Sweden—the ways people talk and dress seem strange! Getting lost in a big city and parting with her best friend only add to Kirsten’s worry. Will she ever feel at home here? It is only when the Larsons arrive at a tiny farm on the edge of the frontier that Kirsten believes Papa’s promise—America will be a land filled with opportunity for them all.

Many girls who use the Ottendorfer branch of the New York Public Library have had the chance to get to know this American Girl Doll and her stories thanks to a librarian who started lending her out to attract more children to the library.  For some girls, this was their only opportunity to play with an American Girl Doll because of “financial or feminist reasons.”  Here is one recently reported story:

For others, it was the only way their liberal-minded parents would allow any doll into their home, refusing to indulge in gender stereotypes or what they considered to be an elitist hobby.

Suzette Seepersad had been avoiding buying her daughter Caelyn Osborn, 5, any toys geared toward girls.

But Caelyn fell in love with Kirsten, taking her to the family’s apartment, bathing her, reading stories to her and putting her to bed. After keeping the doll for two weeks or so, she had to be reminded by a librarian to return it. Now, Ms. Seepersad said, “I’m trying to get my sister to buy her” an American Girl doll.

It sounds like Kirsten is not only teaching girls but also their mothers some lessons.

This reminded me of an article Christina Hoff Sommers published in December about gender-neutral toys, You Can Give a Boy a Doll, but You Can’t Make Him Play With It.

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