Monday, October 31, 2005

American Girl... Revisited

Well then….touched a nerve, have we?

The Girls Inc. “About Girls Inc” message now says, in part:
“Recently, our mission to help girls develop their self-esteem and self-reliance has become the target of false, inflammatory statements from people who are pursuing a narrow political agenda.“

Let’s just consider this statement for a moment. Aren’t the “false, inflammatory” statements based on *quotations* straight from their site, where they celebrate the “reproductive choices” and such for girls? Some concerned people pass on the message that this organization supports some things that we don’t find acceptable….and that makes the message false? By all means, I would LOVE Girls Inc. to come out and say the organization is NOT pro-choice and pro-“alternative lifestyles,” etc . However….I don’t see that happening. So, until the company wants to speak to specifics, the “false” accusation is bogus, as the quotes are about as straight from the horse’s mouth as you can get.

The other hilarious thing is the “narrow political agenda” sneer. So…is it just because it’s a “narrow” political agenda that it’s a problem? Because the company, again, in its own words, supports certain things which are absolutely political issues. So…apparently, then, disagreeing with the company’s political agenda means you have a “narrow” political agenda. But even so, unless, there’s something *wrong* with the political agenda what difference could it possibly make that such an “agenda” is “narrow“? So basically…the organization is tossing off meaningless insults as straw man arguments, instead of being willing to face up to the fact that its nice, friendly, happy, generic façade is crumbling.

So….that’s Girls Inc. for you. Moving onto American Girl itself…In response to complaints, American Girl has replied, in part:

”The donations from American Girl to Girls, Inc. are earmarked specifically to support their work in the areas of intellectual development, leadership, and sports programs, including:

- Girls Inc. Operation SMART®, which builds girls? skills in science, math and technology - Girls Inc. Discovery Leadership®, which develops leadership skills and community awareness

- Girls Inc. Sporting Chance®, which encourages athletic skills, cooperative and competitive spirit, and an interest in sports participation.

We chose Girls Inc. as our benefit partner because of their strong focus and commitment to help millions of girls realize their potential in these fields. American Girl believes that the girls we serve and support today will be the women who make a difference tomorrow. Our support of these three Girls Inc. programs allows us to have an even greater impact on today's girls, particularly those in high-risk, underserved areas. “
Prolife Blogs

It’s been suggested that perhaps American Girl specifically identified these programs as the beneficiaries of the donation, in order to avoid the potential controversy from an unspecified donation to the organization. If that’s the case, it was pretty shortsighted to think that people wouldn’t take issue with a donation to a polarizing, political organization, solely because the three things the money was supposed to go for were “good programs." If that's not the case, it's interesting that they gave the money with specifications.

American Girl is still being encouraged to sever all ties with Girls Inc, and if it doesn’t do so soon, there will likely be an “official” cry for boycotting the company. So if it comes to that point…or if you’re already Christmas shopping for that special doll, but are looking for an alternative to an American Girl doll at this point…allow me to suggest a few alternatives.

A Life of Faith:

Life of Faith, Books, Dolls, and Accessories offers a selection of four dolls. Each doll has a series of books about “her” life. They each have their own wardrobes and accessories to purchase, just like the American Girl dolls (although some of these accessories do seem a bit pricier). In addition to being able to purchase online, here's a list of bookstores which carry the products.

The Vision Forum, Inc.:
This site offers two different dolls, clothing, and books about famous woman in history: Priscilla Mullins, Dolley Madison, Sacagawea, and more. The clothing prices are more in line with the cost of an outfit from American Girl. Unfortunately, this line of dolls doesn’t really offer much in the way of accessories.

Live and Learn Educational and Classic Toys: (Scroll down to “Precious Day Girl Collection”) These are Gotz dolls, and Gotz actually designed the original American Girl dolls. I have not found a current connection, but because they were connected in the past, you might want to do a bit more research before choosing this as an alternative. International Playthings is the company currently producing Gotz dolls.

Seat of Wisdom Books and Gifts:
The Glory of America Series includes four different dolls. You can also purchase 18inch Blessed Mother dolls, and smaller Catholic girl dolls.

Several major retailers also offer their own 18 inch dolls, in a similar style.

I’d love to add more alternatives to this list, so please let me know if you know of another site offering similar dolls.