A New American Girl Doll Book Is Causing Controversy for Discussions of Gender


Dec. 7 2022, Published 1:00 p.m. ET

'A Smart Girl's Guide: Body Image'
Source: Mattel

When the American Girl doll line was created in 1986, no one could predict how much of a sweeping success it would become. The dolls, which feature kids of varying ethnicities, religious backgrounds, and classes across U.S. history, have aimed to teach young consumers about a variety of topics, including racism, slavery, war, child labor, and more.

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Now, American Girl Doll's recent book, A Smart Girl's Guide: Body Image, has come under fire for its themes and messages. What is the controversy with the latest American Girl doll book? Keep reading for everything you need to know.

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What is the controversy with American Girl doll book 'A Smart Girl's Guide: Body Image'?

The line of Smart Girl's Guide books for American Girl began in 2009, starting with A Smart Girl's Guide to the Internet. The series of books is aimed at advising "mid-tween children" about a wide range of topics. The most recent addition to the Smart Girl's Guide collection is A Smart Girl's Guide: Body Image, which has become controversial because it discussed gender in a book marketed for ages "3 to 12," according to Daily Mail.

In the book, there is a section that reportedly advises, "If you haven't gone through puberty yet, the doctor might offer medicine to delay your body's changes, giving you more time to think about your gender identity." The section is followed with a list of resources for those questioning their gender identity if they "don't have an adult you trust."

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Some parents have criticized the book, claiming it pushes the readers to change their genders without consulting an adult first. Many have encouraged people to boycott the company, which currently sells dolls for $115 a doll.

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Who owns the American Girl doll company?

The company was first founded by Pleasant Rowland, who, according to Forbes, developed the idea after visiting Colonial Williamsburg and noticing a lack of dolls for her nieces. She founded her business with the $1.2 million she received from being an author of textbooks. In 1998, after building American Girl into a $300 million company, she sold it to Mattel for $700 million.

Originally, the only way to order the dolls was through a mail-order catalog, but the first American Girl doll retail store opened in 1998. In 2021, the stores even became a TikTok trend with young adults.

So far, Mattel has not addressed the backlash against A Smart Girl's Guide: Body Image, which is currently available wherever books are sold.

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