The new service sector: American Girl

While I was in LA for a gig I went to a mall. I ran into a group of 8 girls aged 6-10 who were all dressed to match their dolls. They informed me that this mall housed one of 3 American Girl stores in the country and they’d driven over a day to make a pilgrimmage.

I went to have a look. The word “store” doesn’t quite capture it. There is a restaurant for the dolls with a full menu; a stage show, a Disneyworld-style tour of the lives of the dolls who are all characters from American history from many races (though therer were no slave dolls, they had all been freed). And yes, you could get your dolls hair done.

I really wished I’d had a video camera so that I could share the thoughts of women who were working there, paid to cut and brushing (with toothbrushes)  the hair of the dolls of 8 year old white girls. I wish I could have talked to them at all but they were busy doing their jobs and there was no really appropriate moment to chat.

I had one Barbie doll at 8 and pulled her head off and that was that.

But in this store (which is an anthropological experience like no other I’ve had this year) there was music playing and self-affirming journals mixed in with the doll jewelry and hair products. There were even dolls that had freckles and played sports upstairs and I was astonished to find myself choked up.