From Our Readers

American Girl

I stalked the store’s main floor whispering, “This is all a lie. They will break your heart.” A few moms ushered their kids away from the crazy twenty-something, but the girls were too engrossed in their new friends to give me a second thought. I was trying to spare them the pain of seeing their beloved doll disappear from the American Girl store as if she never existed. It wasn’t my fault if they didn’t heed my warning.

Visiting the American Girl flagship store in Chicago wasn’t meant to be such a traumatizing experience. I thought I had come to terms with the fact that my beloved Samantha Parkington doll had been discontinued – or archived – in 2009. Like many young women, American Girl was a large part of my childhood. Each month’s issue of American Girl magazine was read from cover to cover. A book on how to throw the perfect sleepover had worn corners from being repeatedly bookmarked with folded corners. My neighbor and I even built an American Girl museum fort with our little brothers cajoled into being our sole visitors.

So as my roommate strode through the revolving door in anticipation of seeing her Kirsten doll in her natural habitat, I tried to buck up and put on a happy face. After all, hadn’t I looked forward to this day since that American Girl headquarters episode of Oprah which I watched in wide-eyed rapture? We stood in the front entrance of the behemoth department store as a swarm of girls pointed at the dolls encased in a round, plastic display.

Then our visit took a dark turn. My roommate circled the case once, twice, three times.

“Kirsten’s not here,” she said in confusion.

What was this, “1984”? Were the Thought Police sweeping up dolls in the night? A well-meaning employee chose the exact wrong time to ask if we needed any help. We confronted her about the disappearance of Samantha, Kirsten and Felicity, but she gave us a funny look and laughed it off. It was clear she thought it was time we moved on.

We did the polar opposite of move on. I ran to the Molly display, removed the doll’s glasses and clutched her closely in an attempt to pretend Samantha still existed. While I thought I had taken the retirement of Samantha in stride, something about my friend’s shock over the discontinuation of Kirsten brought it all back. I think we both thought that a doll rooted in history was safe from becoming obsolete. Maybe we were just victims of egocentrism. We thought our childhood experience was so important that these dolls were immune to company whims.

I could act high and mighty and say it’s elitist for a company to think they can control what aspects of history are worth highlighting. Or I could say that a $105 doll plus book series is consumerism at its worst. But really I’m just hurt because my childhood had been relegated to a single panel of wall space. A pocket-sized Samantha shared a small corner of the store with all the other miniature versions of the historical dolls past and present. But then again, maybe I shouldn’t judge the new dolls so quickly. The American Girl series taught me life lessons, instilled a passion for history and gave me a doll that was about more than just the clothes and accessories (The American Girl catalogue was more for looking than actual shopping in my house).

The more recently introduced dolls are exposing girls to new historical eras and the experiences of different groups of women across time and space. Many of the stories have to do with girls living in times of change, trying to understand the past while being proponents for change in the future. Even if the nobility of the cause is slightly undercut by a high price tag, I know that young girls get something out of these dolls and their stories. I just wish they still knew about Samantha, the curious and bright Edwardian era girl who wanted to be either a painter or President of the United States and always stood by her best friend Nellie.

I know for a fact that she makes a great childhood friend.

You can read more from Samantha Suchland on her blog.

  • Tamara Baltazar

    When I found out about Samanrha and Felicity, I cried. xD My childhood!!

  • Emily Reed

    I had Samantha, too!

  • Tami Patton

    I had Kirsten, it’s so sad that they could ever discontinue any of them.

  • Jennifer Ann Varnagis

    i have kirsten, samantha and molly and i wish i bought felicity before she retired! i was very upset!

  • Katy Woodall

    I like to think they just put them away for awhile, like Disney does with their movies…

  • Amy Rae Hanson

    I had no idea.. This is so sad. The dolls don’t even look as good anymore, they used to be so beautiful.

  • Elizabeth Simmermeyer

    Loved this article! I had Samantha and later on got Felicity! They were my absolute favorite toys growing up! I was completely obsessed. I’m 6 months pregnant and we decided to name her Felicity! :)

  • Caroline Duff

    My theory is that they will reissue Kirsten, Samantha, and Felicity after a decade or so, but with new face molds. As you subtly pointed out the original dolls shared a face mold, so to make them more distinctive from one another they will be given makeovers.

  • Myra Rivera

    I have Molly in my attic and I’m dreading her being discontinued. My mother got her for me after a lot of saving and scrimping. We couldn’t afford the accessories, but the pretty brown haired girl that wore glasses like me was being called American, for a little hispanic girl who got teased mercilessly that was heaven.

  • Rachel Kauma

    I think part of my soul just died when I found out they were discontinued :( Hurts right in the childhood D':

  • Kelly Hackathorn Tackett

    I had a Samantha too!!! How could they get rid of three of their first four dolls? That’s ridiculous!

    • Anonymous

      Are you Madison Gifford? I just need a way to keep track of everyone? If not you can eiehtr comment your last name here, or email it us Originally it was like the fb page and then comment your fav doll on our fb page. We learned that this was not acceptable per fb’s new terms. So it has gotten a little more challenging to keep track of. So like the page, comment the blog with your FB name so we can keep track .Got that I hope so, seems wordy LOL, if not please contact me and I will do my best to help you understand.THANKS FOR YOUR QUESTION!

  • Stefani Kester

    What?! I had a Samantha and my best friend had a Kirsten! This makes me to sad!!!!

  • Sammie Webster-Connor

    … I’ve never heard of this thing called American Girl (with being British and all) . I had to google and have a gander. I looked these dolls up, and by ‘eck, they scare the living hell out of me. However, the point of the post is… To express the fact that I feel you’re pain. My doll was discontinued several years back, I though she’d still be in production. I went to have a look for her about two months ago…. I was sadly told she no longer existed. It’s safe to say, my eyes welled up and a part of me died that day. :( x

  • Cassandra Wirkus

    It made me sad that they discontinued them too… I couldn’t believe it. I mean I get that maybe they took them away to make room for more dolls but its so sad. I hope they’ll bring them back someday because I really want to get Samantha since I have Nellie. I really wanted Felicity and Elizabeth but didn’t have money to get them.

  • Jennifer Groves Colona

    I still have Kirsten and am so sad that she is discontinued!! My Mom recently got one (one of the new ones, can’t remember her name) for my niece and I was like, ah, I’ll see Kirsten! But alas, no. My heart was broken.

  • Anonymous

    i dont get it i got kit from the ag store she has a tag v thing and neck string but i won ruithe at a party and she is the same as kit with the neck v thing and tag i dont really get what your saying

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