My American Girl (originally American Girl of Today; shortened to American Girl Today in 1996; renamed Just Like You in 2006, and renamed to the current name in 2010) is the line of clothing and dolls that are intended to reflect a more modern time than that of the Historical Characters.
The dolls consist of sixty-one dolls with different combinations of skin tone, eye color, face mold, and hair color that are intended to resemble girls of various ethnicities and looks. They are intended to resemble an older child within an age range of about eight to twelve years. While it is commonly assumed that the dolls are customizable, they are not and purchasers can only pick from the available doll selection. The only way dolls can be modified at purchase is ear piercing, sold without hair or with hearing aids; the last two must be specially ordered at time of purchase and Bald Dolls are only available by calling in.
American Girl does not assign official races or ethnicities to any of the dolls. The dolls' colors are defined only in terms of three skin tones--dark, medium, and light--though several molds have implied ethnicity. This allows a purchaser to decide the ethnic background of her doll herself without being tied to a race. (These terms are also applied to Bitty Baby and Bitty Twins.) Unlike the Historical Characters or Girls of the Year, the dolls are not named or characterized by American Girl directly. Instead, purchasers are encouraged to name and create the doll's personality themselves.
Many of these dolls are turned into various custom characters by older collectors including unique historical characters, uncreated characters from the historical books, true-to-life historical characters, and characters from other fandoms. This is due to the fact that the doll's anatomy allows modern dolls to fit any historical clothing.
Doll Numbering System
- See also: Visual Chart of My American Girl Dolls
The numbering system for the dolls was originally tied to the ordering codes. With the modification of the ordering codes, the numbers for the dolls are determined partially by release order and partially by American Girl. The dolls are numbered in the display cases at American Girl Place and also referred to by number on the website.
Meet Outfits are the outfits the dolls are sold in; they are updated roughly every two years to reflect updated children's fashion. While the dolls no longer come with creative writing books, the outfits are still called meet outfits.
|Meet Outfits for American Girl of Today, Just Like You, and My American Girl Dolls|
|1995: Mix and Match Outfit||1996: First Day Outfit||1998: Red Vinyl Jumper Outfit|
|2000: Urban Outfit||2002: Go Anywhere Outfit||2004: Ready for Fun Outfit|
|2006: I Like Your Style Outfit||2008: Star Hoodie Outfit||2010: Real Me Outfit|
|2012: True Spirit Outfit|
Outfits, Accessories, and Furniture
Along with the dolls, American Girl releases several outfits that are intended to reflect the current fashion trends for modern girls. Outfits generally are assumed to have a life cycle of about two to three years. This can be shorter or longer; many holiday outfits, for example, only last through a single holiday season before retirement. Furniture tends to last longer, as well as some accessory sets.
A lot of outfits and accessory sets reflect the era they are released in. Initially this was only seen in clothing styles. With more acknowledgement of disabilities and allergies, accessory sets have included references to disability beyond the use of a wheelchair.
1995: American Girl of TodayTwenty different dolls were originally released as the American Girl of Today line in 1995. Girls were encouraged to create their own dolls that were part of history. Each doll came with a set of six blank books and a writing guide. Several modern (for the time) outfits were released to mimic the Historical Characters lines with Meet, School, and Holiday outfits. Outfits often came with miniature Grin Pins, to mimic the Dress Like Your Doll outfits.
1998: American Girl Today
The line was slightly renamed to "American Girl Today." The dolls now came with only one blank book (the "Meet" book) and a writing guide. The meet outfit began to change more often.
2001: New Mattel Dolls
The first Mattel Doll was released, American Girl Today 21. This was the first new doll in the line since the initial launch.
2004: First Doll Retirements
For the first time, dolls in the American Girl Today Line were retired: American Girl Today 9, American Girl Today 10, and American Girl Today 20. As American Girl Today 19 had already been modified to have green eyes in 1999, this removed every grey-eyed modern doll from the line, and all grey-eyed dolls available at the time except Molly. This has been retroactively been assumed to be because the color was more prone to the silver eye defect.
2006: Just Like You
In 2006, the American Girl Of Today began to be called "Just Like You." The dolls were re-marketed as avatars or friends of the girls who would be purchasing them, rather than emphasizing a girl's place in history. The targeted girl was encouraged to see the new character as a buddy or playmate that was much like them, and enjoyed the same activities they did.
2007: Bangs Adjusted
In 2007, the bangs of many of the dolls began to be modified to finer, wispier bangs. #7, #14, and #19 were the first to have modified bangs; in 2008 #2, #4, #5, #12, #13, #16, and #17 were all given finer bangs.
When Just Like You 27 was initially released, she came with attached silver star earrings. In 2008, her earrings were removed and any Just Like You Doll could be modified at purchase to have Pierced ears. If this option is selected, dolls come with a package of six studs and danglers to mix and match.
2009: Largest Release of Dolls
In 2009--after releasing new modern dolls in relatively small amounts--twenty new dolls were released simultaneously in September of that year. This took the number of dolls that had ever been available through both the American Girl of Today and Just Like You line (including all retired dolls) from thirty-two to fifty-two and was the largest single release of dolls since the start of the line. This also included the first use of the Jess Mold and Sonali Mold in the line.
2010: My American Girl
With the launch of Innerstar University, the line was renamed My American Girl. The dolls were still marketed as companions or friends, but with less emphasis on the idea of a doll looking like or being a doll sized representation of the targeted girl, and the website helped encourage the consumer to and more on independent character creation. Dolls now came with charms to collect (see details below) and information and codes for joining Innerstar University.
At the same time, Meet Outfits were no longer available for a separate purchase directly, due to the outfits coming with included Innerstar codes.
See Also: Visual Chart of My American Girl Charms
At the same time the line was rebranded, charms were offered with most outfits. Nine Personality Traits are noted, with specified logos and colors:
- Brave: Dark Magenta Star Logo
- Confident: Turquoise Round Flower w/Leaves
- Fair: Magenta Converging wavy lines
- Kind: Light Green Heart
- Loyal: Pink Butterfly
- Proud: Three Orange Shooting Stars
- Real: Periwinkle Star w/ Converging Half-circle Arches
- Smart: Dark Orange Starburst
- Strong: Purple Flower
Charms come in four styles:
- Rectangular Charm in assigned color with text of personality trait in white
- Heart Charm with trait logo in assigned color and coordinated color background
- Square Charm with trait logo in coordinated color (same as used with Heart Charms) and in assigned color background
- Round Charm with white background, logo in assigned color, and assigned color border.
The combination of charm style and personality trait make for thirty-six unique charms. Charms come on small tri-folded pamphlets, with the charms on small cards (thus allowing a generic card for all charms). The paper names the charm, and has a quote from a girl age 8-12 about the personality trait. Charms are marketed as items to be added to the necklace that is included with meet outfits, much in the style of Add-A-Girl necklaces from the 90s, and to define a doll's personality.
In 2015 outfits no longer came with charms, and American Girl stated on their official Facebook page that charms would start to be phased out.
2012: Bald Dolls and Hearing Aids
For the first time, modern bald dolls became available, as well as hearing aids as a permanent modification to any modern doll. While bald dolls must be specially ordered directly from customer service, hearing aids can be applied at purchase including at American Girl Place locations.
Criticism of the Line
De-emphasis of Character Creation
With the switch of the line to "Just Like You", critics initially pointed out that the line no longer emphasized the dolls as characters in time or encouraged writing or creative character design. This was most prominently seen with the I Like Your Style Outfit, which came with a book and CD that had a pop-like song on it; the critique was that the book did not encourage a young girl to begin creating her own stories for the doll. The second book released, Fun with Your Doll, encouraged play; however, after the Star Hoodie Outfit was retired, no further books were included with dolls.
With the promotion of Innerstar University, the line is once again emphasizing character creation, albeit in the venue of online interactivity.
The line has also caught criticism due to the hues of the outfits and the general lean towards more feminine clothes. Many outfits under Pleasant Company varied in both style and colors and several outfits had darker, neutral, earthy tones. Most outfits now are in pastel hues with several outfits having elements of pink and purple. There are fewer outfits that vary in activity and several more feminine activities such as ballet.
Lack of Racial Diversity
While there have been sixty-one dolls released (not including remodels), the majority of the dolls can be mapped to a Caucasian background. The original release of the line included three dolls with the Addy Mold and one unique Asian Mold; only four of the originals did not have "light" skin. 2006 was the first time a modern doll was released with the Josefina Mold, #28. Up until 2008, where the Jess Mold was used for the first time, there had been only one Asian mold used--the one for #4, who does not share her face with any other dolls and has since been retired. In 2009, two dolls were given the Sonali Mold--the first time a face mold had been used multiple times at release since 1986.
It also seems as if one doll is exchanged for another; for example, #31 came out the same time #18 was retired. This happens with several dolls, however--#3 was retired for #32.
Recently, the skin tone for "dark" dolls has become a lighter brown than previously; the "medium" tone so far appears to be the same.
This leads to some people, seeking more diverse dolls, to make custom dolls. Some purchase Historical Character dolls and dress them as moderns or purchase moderns and customize them to diversify their collections.
Emphasis of My American Girl over Historical Characters
With Mattel's purchase of the line, the modern line and the Girls of the Year lines have received more emphasis--they have the most space in catalogs and in stores, and while outfits come out multiple times a year for modern dolls, Historical characters originally only received small releases of items or a lack of new items for extended time periods. Some stores are laid out to overemphasize the modern line, giving them more space.
Some collectors feel that this has resulted in diminished items and collections for all Historical Characters (which were the initial reason for the creation of American Girl) and that since modern characters no longer push a historical aspect, they are seen as a lot more transitional toys or status items instead of educational.
With the launch of BeForever, it appears that the Historical line is again getting emphasis and focus.