American Girl Advice

When I saw that American Girl had published a book to help girls figure out if they’re “normal”, I was concerned. Not concerned because everyone has their own version of “normal”. I’m concerned because of this…

american girl photoshoot

This is a photo of me dressed exactly like my doll Samantha. Now I’m no expert, but dressing in identical clothes to your Victorian era American Girl Doll is not normal. I wouldn’t have put it past my mother to have created this outfit of her own free will, but this was actually purchased from an American Girl catalogue. That’s why I can’t just sit around and let a company that directly contributed to my not normal childhood be the place that tells girls about what is or isn’t normal. The only logical thing to do is have me – a girl who’s as normal as anyone who was forced to dress like doll can be – answer the pressing questions of today’s youth. You’re welcome, America.

Dear American Girl,

I have a big problem. I am getting braces right before school starts. I’m afraid everyone will think I look like a dork!

–Can’t Face Braces

Dear Can’t Face Braces,

I don’t want to call you ungrateful, but you’re being ungrateful. In these tough economic times, if your parents are willing to shell out the cash to fix your teeth so that you don’t spend the rest of your life asking “Does my smile make my teeth look crooked?”, you should be thankful and move on. Now, I don’t want to sound insensitive to your plight, so let me give you the finest celebrity example and the person I’m sure will be your new braces idol, Gwen Stefani.

gwen stefani in braces

I know what you’re thinking: Gwen Stefani wore braces? That’s b-a-n-a-n-a-s. Yes, kids, back in the late ’90s, Gwen Stefani wore braces. Look at her – does she seem self conscious about those braces? Of course not. In fact, the braces where apparently a fashion choice and not necessary. That’s right, this look, including the braces, was a fashion choice! Now, am I saying that you should go out and get those bangs, pink hair and drawn on eyebrows, too? No. I’m also telling you that getting braces for s***ts and giggles isn’t normal, but being a teenager and getting braces is. Remember: Gwen Stefani chose to wear braces; she didn’t chose to be a badass, but she is and so are you, Brace face.

In conclusion, let me leave you with this final cautionary tale of what could be…

Knowing that you’re going to be getting braces soon, your boyfriend asks to take a naked photo of you so he can “remember what you look like without braces”. Afraid he’ll break up with you if you don’t, you agree. He shows it to his friends, soon someone posts it on the internet and eventually everyone sees it, including your parents. Your parents are forced to use your braces money to hire a lawyer to help get the photo removed from several websites. Not sure of where they went wrong, they ask Gwen Stefani to talk to you, not being a holla back girl herself, she won’t know what to do. Several more years will pass before your parents will have enough money to get you braces again. By the time they do, all your other friends will have gotten their braces off. Having just gotten over the whole naked photo scandal, you’ll refuse the braces, not wanting to draw any unwanted attention your way. After years of being self conscious about your teeth, you’ll finally get braces as a 28-year-old woman. Every time someone points out that you have some food in your braces, you jokingly say, “I thought I would look like a dork with braces at 13, now look at me.” You always try to laugh it off, but deep down you just wish you could go back and tell 13-year-old you to get the braces, because a few awkward years at 13 are normal and way better than them at 28. Well, you want to tell yourself that… and not to let your boyfriend take a naked picture of you.



*That’s right, I’m giving advice so good I had to change my name to something similar to Oprah.


  • Edward Michael Stoddard

    I agree with Hope. Can’t Face Braces, you really need to buck up here. My mother, when I was about 8 years old, asked me, of all people, if I wanted braces that would have been paid for by the state because we were on welfare. I said NO! They would have been too embarrassing for me. I’ve lived with crooked teeth all my life, and I still wish my mother had, had the guts to just make it happen – all without my input. Can’t Face Braces, buck up. Waring braces is a very time compared to the rest of your life! Get the braces and be happy. Wish I had. :)

  • Tamara Baltazar

    I can’t be the only one jealous of you and your Samantha dress and doll. Does that mean I’m not normal?

  • Kristin Eley

    The American Girl advice books and magazine were my childhood.

  • Sarah Lennon

    I have to ask, why is dressing up like your American Girl Doll not normal? I loved American Girl Dolls when I was growing up because I loved their stories. I love history and I want to dress up in period costumes for a living. I would have loved to have had the chance to dress in those costumes as a small girl. I think dressing up like the characters in your book is completely normal if that is what you want to do. It certainly doesn’t make you abnormal.

  • Mary Bergman

    I was always really jealous of the girls with American Girl dolls and dresses. I borrowed the books from the library. I hope one day I can give my future daughter one and introduce her to what I couldn’t have.

    In other related news… I loved my braces!

    • Anonymous

      Yes, she does look like a doll! One year for Halloween my husband and boys were rsdesed up as Jedi, and my husband had our baby (maybe 1 or 2 at the time?) on his back in a backpack carrier. People thought he was a prop as he was rsdesed up as Yoda and would get freaked out when he would move. Too funny!

    • Anonymous

      D3o25B ngnxpgljaiye

  • Courteney Georgina

    I’m from Canada, and my mom wrote her masters thesis on socially constructed gender roles in children’s toys. Needless to say I was dying for an American Doll…someone gave me a catalogue (which was years old) and I lusted over everything in it. I never did get that doll…I guess I should just count myself lucky…but I still really love dolls.

  • Simon J. Broome

    Sorry, I’m British, and I have a thing about people being so self-conscious about their teeth. Mine are crooked, But then again, they don’t hurt and they work. And that’s all that matters to me. It’s just money-grubbing Private Dentists trying to make work for themselves. Refuse the Braces! Snaggletooth Revolution!

  • Milki Kaplanski

    I wish the advise in magazines etc would be as wise and snarky as yours is.

    You should definitely do this more often and you totally deserve the name change!

  • Robert Remillard

    Attempting to identlfy “Normal” is a slippery slope.

  • Alexandra Lask

    when I was younger I got a couple of american girl advice books and they were totally helpful. I learned how to buy a bra and not to pop pimples(thank goodness, because I had some really bad ones that could have been permanent scars) and most importantly I learned that it was okay to ask questions about the things I was going through.

  • Laura Lee Leinbach

    I have to say, when I was younger I had the American Girl book ‘The Care and Keeping of You’, and it really was great. I loved that book!

  • Kaitlin Bodiroga

    thank god i’m not the only one who had photos taken with my american girl doll while wearing the same clothes… in my photo shoot we opted for the “i’m about to go to bed” look in our white night gowns and pink hair bows with my hair perfectly curled. so glad you shared about this!

  • Vickye Fisher

    There is so much wrong with the world if people are telling young girls how to be normal… I thought we were past all that??

  • Hannah Smith

    I too am British and never had braces but I wish I had. After being given the option of whether I should have them I was passed from dentist to hospital to orthodontist and back. In the end I gave up and decided I’d be fine without them. Now I’m 23, haven’t been to a dentist since BraceGate (10 years) and am haunted by the photos where my fang teeth take a shot at the limelight. Go for the braces, Dracula is a hard loom to pull off.

  • Lezia Broussard

    American Girl was a HUGE part of my childhood! I had a Molly doll, all her clothes, almost all of her accessories and all her books. I never dressed like my Molly doll, though. I would’ve loved to. I don’t care if that’s not normal. I’m STILL not normal, and I’m completely proud of that.

    P.S. I’m 24 now, and I still take Molly out of her box and play with her from time to time.

  • Larkin O’Toole

    I have a pretty identical picture of me dressed up in matching outfits with Samantha. Same party dress and everything. I think I turned out ok. It’s normal to carry a lock of your American Girl Doll’s hair in a locket right?

  • Corey Tilson-Jimenez

    i had crooked teeth forever! It took my mom until about my sophmore year in high school to be able to afford my braces, i didn’t hesitate to get them, and all my friends thought i looked cute with braces. especially the boys. The key to braces is wearing them confidently and not trying to hide them because nothing looks weirder then a mouth trying hide braces lol. anyways get them it’ll be worth and you’ll have a better smile then most of your classmates in the end.

  • Susie Lowman

    to post a comment

  • Shani Riley

    I’ve always wanted braces… Unfortunately, my teeth are super straight. But I still love braces.

  • Keeley Garrett-Smith

    I had braces from age 11 – 14 – full on train tracks with the little elastics – I am so glad that I got them. Beforehand I had fangs at the top and twisted teeth in the bottom row. I was the first of anyone in my year at school to get them which also meant I was the first to get them off! The only person who ever teased me about wearing them was my dad – it won’t be as bad as you think. I now have beautiful teeth all because my mum cared enough to make sure I got braces. It’s worth it and will give you so much more confidence in the long run. Do it! Get them! Simon Broome – you’re wrong! My teeth were a problem that wasn’t just an asthetic one, I had to have 6 teeth removed because my mouth was too small for them to align properly. Without that treatment I would have suffered a lot of pain long term including difficulty with wisdom teeth and tooth decay from being unable to clean them properly. If you’re happy with your snaggletooth that’s great but don’t try to convince impressionable teenagers that they won’t regret that decision later in life.

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