American Girl Craze: Cute or Creepy?

My girls adore their American Girl dolls, even my oldest (8-year old tomboy) who has never been into dolls is crazy about Kaya the Native American doll and her horse Steps High. My younger two (almost-7 and almost-4) love to wear matching outfits with their dolls, McKenna and a rotating-name Bitty Baby. American Girl encourages this cloning behavior: the store and catalog are filled with identical outfits for girl and doll. You can even customize your doll to look like you – picking out skin tone, hair color/length/style and eye color.

Um, hello? Remind anybody of the movie Single White Female? You know, the film where Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character cuts her hair to look like her roommate (Bridget Fonda) and starts dressing exactly like her too, before going completely insane and trying to kill her?

The other day I scared myself when I put on a brand-new shirt and my 6-year-old asked me why I was dressing like her doll McKenna. I picked this shirt out myself, among a rack of similar shirts in different colors. Somehow the green/grey combo jumped out at me. Was I subconsciously trying to dress like McKenna? Was I becoming the crazy woman in Single White Female?

This whole matching doll fad is beginning to make me a little uneasy. I used to think it was cute. I mean, what’s not cute about a little girl pushing a stroller with her mini-her, or feeding her mini-her, or bringing her mini-her along with her everywhere she goes? Ok, I guess it’s a little creepy.

Where is the line? When do we go beyond cute, and step into creepy territory?

I decided to compile some pictures to illustrate the difference between cute and creepy, to help you decide what is ok for your family. Some of the faces have been altered to protect the innocent.

Here you can clearly see the difference between cute, and not-so-cute:


The American Girl dolls all come with their own books that tell their personal story. The books are generally sweet, uplifting, positive stories. They are cute. Trying to become the girl on the book cover, not so much:


The movies are surprisingly entertaining and even more shockingly have good acting performances. But they are meant for a younger audience:


Here are some more illustrations of cute behavior, versus just plain crazy.

Reading to your doll:


Going horseback riding with your doll:image

Going on a pretend camp-out with your doll:image

There you have it. I hope you and your family stay on the cute side. It may be too late for me.

***Note: my husband wanted absolutely no part in this project, but my girls had fun taking pictures of me and posing for pictures. However, the whole family agrees that I am very, very strange. If you read my previous post, you’ll understand that my girls now think I’m Weird Mom.


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