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Are Kids Ready for Homeless Dolls?

Homelessness is having its fifteen minutes of fame. The windows at Barneys, for example, recently showcased a version of “homeless chic,” and W magazine gave Sasha Pivovarova designer bags to pose with as she channeled a homeless woman.

It’s one thing for fashion and editorials to take inspiration from homelessness. We’re certainly not saying it’s right, but in the time of a recession, life on the street is certainly many people’s reality. But it’s quite another for a toy brand to create a doll who has a deadbeat father and homeless mother.

Yes, that’s right. Mattel has created an American Girl doll named Gwen Thompson who, according to the book written about her, lives in a car with her family, because they are homeless. Her father walked out on the family, leaving her mother alone to raise Gwen.

Aren’t dolls supposed to allow little girls to enter the world of fantasy and to indulge their imaginations? Do you really want your child knowing about deadbeat dads and homelessness? When I was young, my mother bought me a Samantha Parkington doll (who is now, sadly, a retired edition) and my mind would race with scenarios from 1904, where I would help Samantha save her friend Nellie from the orphanage and eat watercress sandwiches with Grandmary. And while each girl had her own reality to deal with—Samantha’s parents died when she was young—I’m quite sure my mother would not have wanted me knowing at the young age of seven that husbands leave their wives, that people actually live in cars, and that sometimes grownups just can’t handle the hardships of life.

Isn’t the target age range for American Girl Dolls just a little bit too low for this sense of reality? Oh also, it bears repeating here that the doll costs $95.

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By Bianca Posterli of TheFrisky

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