My friend Alanna shared this ad for LEGO from 1981. It made my heart hurt a little. It's so simple. The girl looks so normal. She isn't wearing shiny lip gloss or blue eye shadow. She isn't smiling seductively in a way that is well beyond her years. The background is BROWN for God's sake! Not a hint of bubblegum pink. Sigh.
Last week, my daughter Risa saw an ad for an upcoming American Girl doll tea-party and begged me to go. She didn't ask me to take her (she understood that was not within the realm of possibility); she wanted to go with a friend's parent. "It would only cost $35!" She showed me the ad, and I bit my tongue to keep from spewing yet another unwanted rant about the evils of American Girl. In the end, I told her she could go with the friend if she paid for it, and I would be happy to come up with jobs around the house that would allow her to raise the money...we'll see what happens.
Risa--like a bazillion other girls out there in America--gushes over these dolls. She has two, both given as gifts, and she talks to them as if they are pals; puts them to sleep each night, and dresses them with the utmost care. This would all be sweet to me if I didn't despise the perverse empire that is American Girl.
Yes, yes, I know the books that the dolls are based on are lovely, giving girls a glimpse into history and offering good, solid values. But that same company is then selling the historical-character dolls for over $100, along with a doll shirt for $32, and doll bed and bedding for $125. As some of you know all too well, girls can visit the store, and pay a gazillion dollars for their American Girl doll to order a meal (!) at the cafe or get her doll-hair done by a stylist. GROSS.
I have refused to go inside one of the stores or buy a single item online. The only props I can give to this company is that they have come up with an altogether genius marketing plan (getting parents to pay REAL MONEY for doll food and convincing them to line up during holidays for blocks and blocks in the freezing cold to plunk down their credit cards for "sparkly hair pics" and doll tote bags). Muuuuahahahaha.
As for me, I will continue to be the "mean mom" on this one who just "doesn't get it." I don't care that they are making nice books... it's like saying that a company is selling kids crack cocaine, which is bad, but that the same company is also selling fresh fruit. Not good enough.
And so I pine for the simplicity of this LEGO advertising...what it is is beautiful.
I am a journalist, filmmaker, author, wife, and mom to an 8-year-old daughter. My most recent project is I Love Mondays: And other confessions from devoted working moms. Other projects explore raising only children, happily ever after, raising strong girls, and hot topics for Jewish women.
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