If you played with dolls as a kid, you might remember stripping your baby down past her skivvies just because you could. But those days could soon be over for those kids lucky enough to get a doll that costs as much as some car payments.
American Girl, creators of Kit and Josefina and the early childhood exercise in narcissism (aka: Me Dolls), has given doll-dressing fun a wedgie. They made the girls' underwear permanently attached. And some parents? Well, they're just not happy.
A brouhaha broke out on Twitter over the weekend, after some moms caught wind of the perma-panties. So the company issued an apology on its Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. In their post, they presented a series of photos comparing the new dolls with their cotton and polyester non-removable undies to past dolls who sported changeable underwear. A third dolls was clad in swimwear.
The message: These new undies might stay on, but they won’t be visible under clothes and, therefore, shouldn’t impede doll play.
“We take our customer comments very seriously, as well as any changes to our dolls. We would never change our dolls without careful consideration, and we want to address feedback received about the new underwear design, which will eventually affect all of our Truly Me dolls; the BeForever characters Julie, Melody, and Maryellen; and some of our contemporary dolls to come,” the statement reads, later noting, “Doll play is fueled by imagination, and the new underwear design should not hamper a girl’s ability to create limitless play opportunities.”
That's some true belief in the power of the play undergarment.
Still, some parents would prefer their little ones didn’t have to imagine what lies beneath their $120 dolls deepest layer. They want the real, removable thing.
They posted their demands that American Girl put things back to the way they were, when American kids called the shots on whether their dolls were dressed or undressed, and they’re making sure the company knows it.
“I will not be buying that,” one angry mom posted to the page. “If you need to make that change for your ‘expanded markets,’ then you need to change it only for that market. This is America and our children undress their dolls and change the clothes all the way to the skin."
Indeed! If kids want to drag butt nekkid dollies to the grocery store, pediatrician’s office and wherever else they may take them, who are the folks at American Girl to prevent it? Because, truly, this new version is not going anywhere. The tacked on underwear cannot be removed, even via a seam ripper, so parents are stuck with them.
Mandy Bizzell agrees. Her comment: "But what about children who love their dolls to be naked? I know many children who the first thing they do is take the clothes off of a doll. My daughter has sensory issues and does not wear underwear at all and sleeps naked, and insists her dolls sleep naked as well. Like I said above, its not a huge issue, not earth shattering, but its enough to make me not buy a doll that has non-removable underwear."
And Holly Peterson just isn't buying the convenience factor. She appears to think the company is body-shaming the (turns out) completely inanimate objects. She writes, "This whole, "It can be lost" thing is utterly ridiculous from a company whose entire body of merchandise is built by tiny, very expensive, very easily losable products. My goodness. The undies are cheap to replace. What about the lid to the silver dog show trophy? The paper books that accompany high end accessory sets? And these dolls are for 8 and up. I think this is about modesty, and I want to know why! Our girls do not need these kinds of subtle messages from their toys. :( How disappointing."
But for those hoping to preserve the right for their kiddos' dolls to go commando, there’s always this shiny beacon of hope. The American Girl Twitter account assured worried parents that the current “Girl of the Year” doll, Gabriela, will not come with stuck-on undies, although they can’t speak for future dolls in the line.
Only time and market forces will tell. Meantime, Barbie never kept a kid from taking it all off.