A Girl’s Life
Did anyone but me, and FairerScience friend David Mortman, read A O Scott's essay, A Girl's Life in yesterday's New York Times? Scott, if you don't know him, is the Time's film critic. And while, A Girl's Life is sort of a review of the American Girl movie , it is actually much more.
He's writing about the American Girl phenomena and what it does and doesn't mean for, well, the American girl. He points out that the American Girl dolls are "a kind of anti-Barbie, a sturdy, nonsexualized body whose proportions are more or less those of a real girl." and that "while some of the historical adventure books acknowledge that opportunities for girls — especially poor and nonwhite girls — were limited in earlier times, they emphasize optimism, good will and self-reliance as the ever-available antidotes to injustice or deprivation." He asks "Is the brand reflecting tastes, or enforcing norms of behavior? Is it teaching girls to be independent spirits or devoted shoppers?" and figures the answer is yes.
In the past I, along with many others, rolled my eyes about the whole American Girl thing. But you know Scott may have a point. He sure gets it right when he says
You [the American girl] grow up being told that you can do anything — run for president, win a Nascar race, fly into space or become a four-star general — but in the meantime everything you do is subject to intense and often contradictory scrutiny from the grown-up world. You are exposed to a barrage of mixed signals from parents, friends, teachers, television advertisements, even the stuff you play with, and your response to those signals becomes grist for expert hand wringing and opinion mongering.
So I'm taking a second look atAmerican Girl. Now if only we could them to do more science!