chapter  4
58 Pages

Making Americans: The American Girl Doll and American Girl Place

In the fall of 2003 a new Manhattan brandscape opened: American Girl Place. The store marks the astonishing success of the Pleasant Company and its product, the American Girl Doll. Hailed by the press as a “mix of imagination, history and values,” this 18-inch, expensive, extensively accessorized doll is wildly popular. If an upper-class or upper-middle-class female white child was under the age of 8 somewhere between the early 1990s and 2005, she’s likely to have had one or more of these dolls. This chapter looks at the doll and American Girl Place as a new form of corporate performance that is integrally linked to right-wing power in the United States. As we shall see, the American Girl products are the means by which girls perform themselves as Americans – a process of structuration haunted by the threat of disappearance from the world stage upon which only the American is viable.