American Girl Place Mocks 6 Year-Old For Having A Doll From Target, Refuses To Style The Doll's Hair

This story is just heartbreaking. We feel really, really bad for this little girl. Etta saved all her money and purchased a pretty doll from Target named Gracie. When she was invited by her friend to bring her doll to American Girl Place for a “doll hairstyle” she was thrilled…until the stylist chided her for not having a “real” doll and refused her business.

From Etta’s Mom’s Blog:

“Come spend a day you’ll never forget!” the website promised. And boy did you deliver.

Frommers Guide to New York says “don’t forget to bring [your] favorite doll so it can get a makeover at the store’s own doll salon.” I know it’s craaaaazy that a Target fake (that cost only $29.99 of Etta’s real saved money!) would be her favorite doll but it was.

At least it used to be.

Back when she thought it was real.

“This isn’t a real doll!” the stylist exclaimed. (Thank your stylist!–we never would have had the heart to explain it that way!). And to prove that a fake doll isn’t worth the plastic she’s molded out of, she refused to do the doll’s hair.

I’m not sure exactly what’s in it for your company, because you still stood to make $20 off of my daughter for doing the fake doll’s hair. I have two thoughts on that. Either her $20 wasn’t worth the same as someone else’s $20 (in which case I’ve learned something new too!) OR it was worth the $20 to you to be able to be the one to break the news to, I mean, to *enlighten* my little girl. You do promise to teach little girls, don’t you?

And she cried and cried and cried, and your stylist held her ground. That was a good lesson for her too. That feelings don’t have a place in “the heart of Manhattan’s prestigious shopping neighborhood” (another quote from your website).

This makes us feel terrible. Really terrible. We had a fake Cabbage Patch Kid when we were small. Our parents weren’t about to wait in line and punch other people just to buy a doll, so we made due. We loved that fake doll, and can’t imagine how terrible we’d have felt being publicly humiliated in front of “Real Cabbage Patch Kid” owners:

And did you realize how loyal to you all the other mommies in line were? You’d have been proud of them.

One chided Etta for not knowing she couldn’t bring a fake doll to the store. Tsk tsk. She’s in first grade now and can read by herself (taught herself, in fact). She probably should have done the research. There’s another great lesson for her. (Thanks mom in line!)

One mom muttered to another that Etta probably couldn’t afford a real one. Great hunch! She’s six!

One mom just smiled and said “Well, American Girl Dolls aren’t for everyone, you know.” A sentence cleverly crafted to make Etta feel like someone cared about her but also to be aware that she really didn’t belong there in your fancy store with the other, richer, better girls. How compassionate!


Fake, out. [One of those horrible moms] (Thanks, Matt!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. humphrmi says:

    Wow, those quotes are truly amazing. I don’t think I could have kept my cool if I overheard those. Of course, I have three boys so I don’t think I’ll ever find myself in an American Girl store. But I’ll boycott them on principle!

  2. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    So sad. This is what was bound to happen when Pleasant Company was purchased by Mattel. I have such wonderful memories of the American Girl place, but I was fortunate enough to have a “real” doll. She was very special to me and I remember being impressed by their service when I sent my doll in for service years later.
    But this is disgusting. Their store is catering to the girls who are spoiled and selfish, who have all of the dolls and parents who will spend thousands on buying them dolls that will mean nothing and collect dust.
    Shame on Mattel for making anyone feel like they and their favorite doll are not worthy.

  3. EvilTapioca says:

    Those women treating that child that way sounds like they are bunch of cunts.

  4. missdona says:

    Heartbreaking. My niece has a “real doll” only because I hit it at the right time, I think she was $10 on slickdeals.

  5. ElizabethD says:

    American Girl dolls are the biggest scam going. I actually like the wholesomeness of their products, and even the accompanying books with the dolls’ backstories are pretty well done.

    But those prices. C’MON, guys. My daughter’s Bitty Baby doll quickly lost a leg (yes, we sent it back and it was fixed, but still – the trauma!); its face discolored dramatically after about 6 months (from cafe-au-lait tan to grayish brown, and no, this wasn’t dirt that coulid be removed with any sort of cleaner).

    Parents and grandparents: be very clear when you buy these products. A doll is simply a doll. You are buying a *concept* and a backstory and a bunch of crazy-overpriced accessories that most little girls don’t really care about anyway.

    Shame on the stylist for her elitism. And year-long sojourn in the the slums of a 3rd-world country for those snotty mothers in line.

  6. cindel says:

    American Girls dolls are shit. The people in my area do not buy their products!

    Stick to what you know folks and that’s Cabbage Patch Kids or Barbie.

  7. formergr says:

    God, the store clerk was a total bitch, but she was just carrying out store policy (in a very bad, untactful, unfriendly way). But those other moms in lines? A thousand times worse– how can you say that stuff within earshot of a child, much less her mother, much less to her face.

  8. Lewis says:

    “Thank you, Madam, for explaining to my daughter that her doll is fake. Clearly the real vs. fake dichotomy is a concept with which you are familiar, based upon your ring.”

    But I’m a New Yorker.

  9. gertrudeyorkes says:

    Sucks that the contextual advertising on this page is for a Samantha doll…

  10. formergr says:

    Dang, I just went to the link and read the whole letter (which is brilliantly written and even snarkier than the clip posted here), and it’s even worse than I thought.

    Heh, heh, LewisNYC, good one. That’s the kind of comeback I don’t think of unfortunately until I’m home in bed 8 hours later still steaming after such an incident.

  11. That’s absolutely absurd and infuriating.

    “I’m sorry I can’t do your dolls hair, because it doesn’t have the right kind of fake hair.”

    I’m definately with Elizabeth’s last line. I’d like to take these people with me to my former Peace Corp village in Cameroon. “Well, I guess boiling and filtering your rainwater isn’t for everyone, you know.”

  12. iMike says:

    @EvilTapioca: Best use of the uniquely descriptive term “cunt” I’ve seen all day.

  13. Completely absurd… it looks as if another company has stepped up to fix the problem for Etta – left a comment on their blog saying they will ship any order she places for free (is the shipping free, or the order, I assume the former).

    Regardless, my 6-month old daughter will never own an American Girl doll and I’ll be sure to check out this Emily Rose business. Looks like one company’s trash is another company’s treasure.

  14. Lewis says:

    @formergr: Yeah, I never would have thought of it on the spot either. Would have come out more like “well the jerk store called, and they’re all out of you!”

    Or I would have taught my daughter that today’s episode was brought to us by the letter C and the day Tuesday.

  15. brooklynbs says:

    Wow, what a scam. I pay $12 for a haircut, and I even get lollipop with it.

  16. There’s an AGP store here in Chicago – I made the mistake of going in there one day, it’s like a cult only worse!

  17. TheCFC says:

    Am I the only one who sides with American Doll? Clearly they can’t do the hair of any doll that walks in off the street? It’s all about branding – the American Doll people are selling an experience surrounding their brand. They could’ve refused to do the hair in a more discreet fashion but I think the store relies on kids’ guardians to understand the risk of bringing in a cheap Target doll to an American Doll store and expecting the same treatment.

    If a kid is traumatized for having a Target doll in an AG store, I blame the parents for setting their daughter up for a big disappointment.

  18. …Whoa. So messed up.

    Sarcasm aside, this is an incredibly important lesson for that little girl. People can be cruel and superficial. Hopefully this experience will prevent her from acquiring those traits later in life.

  19. formergr says:

    I don’t think anyone is really knocking the AG store’s policy, but more the way in which that message was delivered.

    Word about the AG store here in Chicago– a friend of mine took her niece from out of town shopping downtown. She was secretely somewhat worried the girl would want to go in there (but of course would have taken her if she did). Instead the niece made lots of fun of the store and they developed a “red bag alert” to identify shoppers on Michigan Ave who were part of the cult.

  20. busrider says:

    I can’t say I know too much about American Girl, but perhaps they have a sort of “DRM” (Doll Rights Management) that strictly prevents anything other then genuine AG dolls from using their products.

  21. joopiter says:

    @mlehet: It is a cult! I had no experience with American Girl Dolls at all until my roommate brought me into the AGP in Manhattan. The whole thing was freaky- overpriced dolls with overpriced outfits with matching clothes for the brainwashed children bought by their brainwashed parents.

    @TheCFC: I can’t side with American Doll – not if they preach girl empowerment and then turn around and make a child feel like crap. I get that they can, and should, have a policy of only working on AG dolls. I don’t expect to bring a ring I bought at Kay’s to Cartier and expect them to fix it. But I also don’t expect them to publicly humiliate me. And if her parents didn’t actually buy into the American Doll hoopla, instead letting her use her own saved money to buy her doll from Target, why should they be expected to understand the rules when their daughter received an invitation from a friend to bring her doll?

  22. I’m gonna be pissed off for the rest of the day. There’s no way I’m setting foot in one of those stores.

  23. Jesse McBesse says:

    WHAT?? There’s a doll salon??? With doll stylists???!?

  24. snowferret says:

    Wow.. thats crule.

  25. Falconfire says:


    Am I the only one who sides with American Doll?


    American Girl dolls are the biggest ripoff this side of Cabbage Patch Kids. It feeds a unsafe need for greed in a child and I for one will refuse to let my child even near one, if they even still exist by the time we are ready to have kids.

  26. Gasface says:

    Meghann Marco is the only real doll in NYC.

  27. Nicholai says:

    Wow. I had to read through the headline of the article a few times just to understand what was going on here. And all I have to say is: that’s jut disgraceful. That’s the textbook definition of “heartless” right there.

  28. mopar_man says:

    How about we have a “worst doll company” contest? Head-to-head we’ll place American Doll and Bratz. Which is worse?

  29. Lewis says:

    @TheCFC: Policies are understandable, but good customer service (and common decency) should have prevailed here.

    My grandmother loved telling this story: in the 1940s or whatever, she went out to dinner with someone who we would today call a kleptomaniac. She systematically stole all of this very good restaurant’s silver, putting it in a napkin throughout the meal.

    As she got up to leave, the napkin with the silver slipped out of her purse, causing a loud commotion at the front door, silverware going everywhere.

    The manager approached, helped her to her feet, picked up all the silverware, put it back into the napkin nice and neat, handed it to the lady with a smile and said “we look forward to seeing you next time.”

  30. Art Vandelay says:

    The attitudes of the women in that store are disgusting, but not surprising coming from mommies that would spent that kind of money on their children. What a gaggle of cunts.

  31. Kos says:

    another reason I don’t want daughters.

  32. phrygian says:

    @joopiter: I always thought American Girl Dolls was about girl empowerment too. That what my friends have always pointed to as why they’re a better gift for little girls than Barbie or Bratz, anyway.

    Nowhere on the American Girl Doll website do they say that the salon is only for American Girl-brand dolls.
    Perhaps they (wrongly) assume that a child’s favorite doll will always be one of theirs and therefore don’t think it’s worthwhile to mention their discriminatory policy toward non-American Girl dolls.

  33. kerry says:

    When these dolls became popular (sometime in the late 80’s, IIRC) my (admittedly rich and spoiled) friends got them. I was smitten for about 30 seconds before being told the cost. Even at a fairly tender age (I was 9, I think) I knew that was way too much money and thought they were all nuts. They had the fancy trunks with all the fancy clothes and they got the catalog in the mail and I never saw past the giant red RIP-OFF sign in my head.
    I walk by the AGP in Chicago pretty regularly, and on the one hand I see very happy girls with their very happy moms spending a very happy day together, but on the other hand I can’t help but feel like a lot of less fortunate little girls would love the experience and get excluded because they can’t afford the right kind of doll. Booooo!
    (BTW, rumor has it that the AGP in Chicago is moving into the ginormous, 6-story Lord & Taylor space at Water Tower. Eep.)

  34. Techguy1138 says:

    It’s not infrequently that a story breaks my heart. Usually it involves some sort of horrible lonely death. Hence being the softie I am I read the consumerist to avoid real news.

    This just seesm really horrible to me. No child should made to be feel that their favoriate anything isn’t good enough. Just imagining the soul crushing feeling that that little girl must have felt just support a corporate policy is awful. It’s so heartless I can’t understand it.

    I understand that there are mean people, I understand that little girls can be mean even at doll parties but adults ganging up on a child for the sole purpose of feeling superior or enforcing policy?

  35. JRuiz47 says:

    Reading this story and the crappy customer service makes me so upset, I can’t even finish my bowl of Fruity Dyno-Bites!

    But seriously, have your policies and enforce them, but don’t break a six year-old’s spirit.

    The little girl is six years-old. Six! You shouldn’t be that mean to a 26 year-old, much less a six year-old.


  36. aka Cat says:

    Cute as Etta’s doll is, it’s clearly a knock-off of the AG dolls, and one that appears to be more cheaply made, to boot.

    Was the stylist right to refuse to do the doll’s hair? You betcha. She had no way of knowing how well the doll’s hair was made, colored or rooted. She could easily have ruined the doll, and she was right to refuse to take that chance.

    Was the stylist rude about it? Who knows. The story is second hand, at best. Did she say “This isn’t a real doll” or “This isn’t a real American Girl doll”? The first is rude — and nonsense. Of course the Target doll is a real doll. The second is blunt, but absolutely true.

    The kid should never had taken her knock-off to the AG store. Etta’s mom should have thanked the friend’s mom, told Etta she could go but without her doll, and — if they had it to spare — given her $10 to buy a hair clip or brush for her doll.

  37. paco says:

    I’m taking my four and a half year old to the city for a week to visit friends and hit some of my old stomping grounds–minus the late-night ones, of course. Anyway, I’d thought that she might get a kick out of wandering through the AG store. This has now officially changed my mind. Heartless bitches, the mothers especially.

    In fact, I see no reason to even go near “the heart of Manhattan’s prestigious shopping neighborhood.” In fact, typing that phrase makes me say things like, “I miss the pre-Giuliani New York.”

  38. wow – that just broke my heart.

    Just totally uncalled for meanness there.

  39. mathew says:

    I’m just pondering a world where there are people who will pay more to have a doll’s hair styled than I pay to have my own hair styled.

    Yeah, a) the site doesn’t say anything about only their own brand dolls being allowed; b) even if it did, the appropriate action would have been for the store clerk to discreetly inform the parent out of earshot of the child; and c) the other parents should have kept their mouths shut in any event.

  40. mikesfree says:

    Man, what happened to the simplicity of being a kid?

  41. elbuzzard says:

    Hey stop saying Real Doll in there! Those things are creepy x1000.

  42. @Danilo Campos: I think you summed it up well

  43. MeOhMy says:


    It feeds a unsafe need for greed in a child and I for one will refuse to let my child even near one, if they even still exist by the time we are ready to have kids.

    That depends on the way it comes into the child’s possession. Just handing one of these dolls to appease their quailing teaches them a sense of entitlement. Using it as a lesson on setting goals, deciding what you really want, and taking care of things you have is probably worth more than the doll could ever cost.

    They may have good reason to not want to style another doll’s hair. Not brand cachet, but liability, liability and liability. They don’t know what the hair is made of. They don’t want to be responsible if something happens.

    As with just about every post on Consumerist, though, the employee could have handled it better.

    And the elitist parents quoted are flat-out disturbing. I think that’s the attitude FalconFire is referring to.

  44. Fancy Pants says:

    I worked in a bookstore in high school and we had monthly American Girl parties on Sundays after the store closed. Dozens of girls showed up, with and without dolls, and we had tea parties and painted faces and talked about how being a girl was cool, and then their parents bought tons of stuff.

    I remember that literature from Pleasant Company, had a section in the “American Girl Club” guide for when girls came without Real American Girl Dolls, and it said something to the effect of, “not ever child is lucky enough to have an American Girl Doll, but that does not mean that she cannot be an American Girl herself.” It’s so sad to see Pleasant Company’s values in the gutter next to my own faith in humanity.

  45. juri squared says:

    I can see why AG would not allow a non-AG doll in the salon; just imagine what would happen if the doll’s hair started coming out, or her scalp ripped. Doll hair can vary wildly in quality, so I can completely understand why AG would want to avoid liability.

    However, there is NO excuse for what the stylist said, or the other moms. A better way to handle it would be to try and find some kind way to let the girl down. “I’m sorry, sweetie, but we’re only allowed to work on American Girl dolls” might have worked. It would still suck, but at least you wouldn’t destroy the poor kid’s fantasy.

    Also, shame on AG for not clearly noting their policy on the webpage. The whole debacle could have been avoided had they done so.

  46. Darren W. says:

    Oh come on guys! Clearly you are all missing the underlying story of the truly repressed character in this tale. I mean really, when you make your living doing hairstyles for dolls, how often do you really ever get the chance to be elitist?

  47. Vinny says:

    @TheCFC: But it isn’t free. I actually agree with you, but what harm would it have done to take the $20 and just do it?

  48. kenposan says:


    Yes, you are. :)

    The issue isn’t branding, the issue is crushing a 6 year-old’s feelings. They could have been FAR more tactful in handling the situation. God forbid something like that ever happen in my presence to my kid.

    I am heartless bastard and this story almost makes me cry.

  49. curlyheatherg says:

    Wow. I just can’t believe anyone could be so mean to a child, and in a store for children. Oh wait, its in NYC, so yes I can. And the moms in line? Ugh. I bet they are the same moms who buy their daughters $96k Jaguars for their 16th birthdays. Souless, blackhearted bitches.

    (Also, I hear you Kerry; I was about 9 too when I got an American Girl catalog. I loved looking through the catalog and running to my mom to say “Look! They want $10 for this tiny pair of shoes!” or something to that effect. I was happy with my garage sale barbies.)

  50. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @TheCFC: Ok so I only have a boy thank god but dude when did we become so jaded that $30 for a freakin plastic doll is cheap…..I can toss him a 3$ Gi Joe and he will be good for the day.

  51. notatoad says:

    i have a “real doll”. i wonder if they’d do her hair?

    these people are truly the scum of the earth. pretentious jerks that need to be the target of physical violence to remind them that they are human beings too.

  52. gardencat says:

    The fact that little girl’s doll was not genuine could have been easily overlooked by this stylist. Maybe her doll’s hair wasn’t of “American Girl” standards, but that doesn’t mean the stylist could not have went ahead and done a simple hairdo on the doll, adding some bows or barrettes to make one little girl very happy.

    Shame on the stylist and shame on American Doll, for making this little girl cry!
    Young children don’t understand and no child ever needs to be treated that way!

  53. AcidReign says:

    …..Usually, I’m bagging on my home state, but not this time. This would never happen in Alabama. The stylist would be fired on the spot, and probably verbally abused by other shocked adults in the area. Rude, rude, rude.

  54. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @notatoad: Hmm I thought the hair on Real dolls was real human hair? So why not take your lady friend to a real stylist? Lol sorry I watched the show on how they make real dolls on playboy a few weeks ago..

  55. infinitysnake says:

    @LewisNYC: It stil happens. My mother has done things like this- we used to go to a local Chinese place pretty regularly, and mom would occasionally swipe the fancy little sauce dishes (utterly embarassing). One night after we ate, the owner brought out boxes for our leftowevers, and after packing them, he picked up all of the sauce dishes, winked, and slipped them all in the bag. After that, they always had some trinket for her.

  56. Lewis says:

    No need to rag on NYC – let’s remember that the other “mommies” who chided the poor little girl and her mom were likely tourists.

  57. Craig says:

    Wow…if this happened to me and my daughter I probably would have ended up getting arrested. I actually visit the NYC AG store once a year as a special treat for her (I’m a single dad and finding girl things to do together isn’t always easy) but won’t after reading this…my daughter’s sense of self-worth is far more important than any allegiance she may have to these dolls.

    Incidentally, the first time I was in the store I shot video of the hair salon…funniest thing I had ever seen.

  58. The Bigger Unit says:

    A doll hair stylist. No wonder everyone hates us.

  59. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Meghann Marco is the only real doll in NYC.

    Congratulations! Please come claim your Ass-kisser of The Year Award.

  60. kerry says:

    Nature Boy wins the thread!

  61. tenofdiamonds says:

    AG is just one of several companies making their business on instilling greed and the idea of extreme consumerism in children. Why parents go along with this is beyond me.

    This weekend, I’ll be attending my nephew’s 6th birthday at Build-A-Bear workshop. He has two bears, and will be acquiring a dog to go with them. His ridiculously indulging family has bought literally hundreds of dollars of clothing and accessories for the bears already and will be adding plenty more this weekend. In fact, when he got the first one, it came from the store with its own stocking for Christmas that had to be filled with gifts FOR THE BEAR, which they of course did. Needless to say, he will not be getting any of this bear crap from me.

  62. InWisconsin says:

    If I don’t hear that this little girl not only received a free American Girl doll, but that she also received a free party for the same group of friends, AND that the person(s) responsible for her treatment were immediately fired, I will be actively campaigning amongst our group of friends to boycott American Girl.

    As a suburban father of two pre-American Girl age daughters, I hope this carries not a little weight with Mattel.

    When you become an institution, the rules for your conduct change. You’re not just a doll company. You’re a right of passage and should have the class to act accordingly or risk losing that status, quite quickly.

  63. superlayne says:

    I had an American Girl doll. I never played with her much, I wasn’t a doll person. But I loved her.

    This was awhile back, though. I never went to a store. Magazine was delivered to my house. I was too fat for the matching outfits.

  64. American Girl dolls are creepy, and the whole culture is creepy. This scenario doesn’t surprise me at all, but it’s awful. I was dragged to the Chicago store by my sister and nieces and the only thing that made it tolerable was my brother, doing things like this:

  65. droppedD says:

    First I felt bad for the kid. Then I realized she was about to spend $20 on a hairstyle. for a doll. I feel no pity for people who buy their dogs $200 coats, or for people who buy their children’s dolls $20 hairdos. I mean, I barely spend that much on myself for a haircut. What a waste.

    So i still feel bad for the kid, since she’s 6 and doesn’t know any better, but i am filled with endless spite for everyone else involved in this story – the mom, the other parents, American Girl dolls…

    I mean, aren’t the stories of half the American Doll girls something like “blah blah poor immigrant trying to fit in and make good blah blah?” Isn’t it a little cynical and hypocritical to rip on a 6-year-old girl for not being rich enough for a “real” American Girl doll when the dolls themselves are sometimes supposedly poor immigrants?

  66. MAS90 says:

    If this blog report is true… Americqan Girl has a lot of PR make-up to do.

  67. zentec says:

    This somehow is a perfect summary of many of the things wrong in American culture. The dolls are appropriately named; plastic representations of an unattainable measure that help salve the insecurities of people long on money, short on self-confidence and even shorter on tact and compassion.

    No, American Girl Dolls are for everyone. It’s just that most people understand that it doesn’t matter how much money you heap upon your child, it doesn’t make them love you any more and it doesn’t make them see that you love them. It just makes them turn out to be spoiled, shallow, insecure and inconsiderate adults – just like their parents.

    Etta will overcome this rather quickly and I wouldn’t worry too much about her. It takes a lot to really damage a kid and I’m sure this will end up being but a blip on her big-deal-o-meter as she ages. Mom on the other hand, I fear for anyone she sees tooling around the mall parking lot in a Lexus or H2 packed full of designer shopping bags, driven by a cosmetic-surgery enhanced female driver with a kid toting around one of those dolls.

  68. superlayne says:
  69. MadCity says:

    Heh, heh. I wonder how those self-absorbed New York women would feel once they found out that before the Mattel acquisition, once a year Pleasant Company would have a HUGE 2-day sale of all of the discontinued, returned, and repaired “healed” dolls and accessories right here in Madison, WI. That’s right, for a SIGNIFICANT discount, folks right here in Wisconsin could get American Girls dolls and accessories for a FRACTION of what the uppity NY moms paid for theirs. A co-worker got 2 of the early Macintosh computers for a buck a pop many years ago; gave one to me for my daughter.

    Etta’s Mom may want to think about writing to the founder of the company, Pleasant Rowland (now you know where the name came from) here in Madison. Tell her what she thinks of what Mattel and it’s minions have done to the company she created.

  70. Elaine Chow says:

    Man! You shoulda posted this to Gawker! It would’ve made a great Underminer post.

    “Oh you buy your kids ‘fake’ dolls, I see… I bet it’s made in China… no, no, I understand, times can get tough and it makes sense to teach your kids how to uh… ‘manage their finances,’ something my kids will never (have to) learn.”

  71. Helvetian says:

    Isn’t the American Girls Store only for the AG dolls? I’ve never been to the shops but seen one, and know it has clothing and extras for the AG dolls only. Very bizarre.

  72. bdgbill says:

    Gee, I wonder what would happen if I brought a Honda Civic to a Ferrari dealer for a tune up?

    Note to parents: Being disapointed and learning how to get over it is an important part of growing into a normal human.

    The huge deal the mom made about this episode was probably far more upsetting to the child then failing to get her dolls hair styled.

  73. Helvetian says:

    I read the entire story, blog and most of the comments here. I have a better understanding. If the information mom provided is accurate, the doll stylist was too condescending. There was no need to vilify the girl and her mother.

    However I do agree that the AG Store only does AG dolls, I don’t have kids, dolls and never stepped foot in the store but just figured out it was exclusively for AG dolls. Sad story.

  74. jennyjane says:

    Please. Having money does not equal spoiled, shallow, insecure or rude. In fact, one would say that even saying such a thing were shallow and insecure, if not rude.

    I’ve had more bad customer service experiences in Wal-Mart and the Dolllar Store than AG every day of the week. There’s enough spoiled, shallow, insecure and rude to go around in every socio-economic group.

    I’m not so sure we should begrudge any little girl her doll, AG or otherwise, wealthy or not.

  75. M3wThr33 says:

    Well. Given that my mother was a big Barbie collector, and I still buy far too many toys, I agree with American Doll. I am always in favor of authenticism, and to be fair, I would not have let my daughter purchase an off-brand to begin with and let her take it somewhere it wasn’t meant to be.

    This is akin to taking a random teddy bear to a Build-a-bear workshop for a party. Sure, it’s a bit more exclusive and they could let you in, but buying that specific product makes you part of a group and that’s what you’re celebrating.

  76. mopar_man says:

    Gee, I wonder what would happen if I brought a Honda Civic to a Ferrari dealer for a tune up?

    They probably would’ve serviced it if you were willing to pay what they wanted for the tune-up. Same deal here. She was willing to pay the $20 (although that’s obscene for a doll, that’s not the point here).

    Note to parents: Being disapointed and learning how to get over it is an important part of growing into a normal human.

    The huge deal the mom made about this episode was probably far more upsetting to the child then failing to get her dolls hair styled.

    Your tone sounds like you agree with how everybody here was treated. Am I correct?

  77. Da5idM says:

    We have several American Girls dolls that the grandparents bought for my daughter. She has never liked playing with them.

    I just wrote American Girl’s customer service an email ( and told them that they should give her a doll. I am interested to see how they fix this.

  78. infinitysnake says:

    The AG doll ads all over this thread are cracking me up.

  79. Buran says:

    @TheCFC: If that was true, they should have said so on their website. It’s not hard to include ‘American Girl’ instead of ‘favorite’.

    How expensive are these dolls, anyway? I was a tomboy so I never really had any dolls, plus I have no idea what prices are these days.

  80. Dr. Eirik says:


    I would hope that, assuming they don’t work on cars outside what they sell, they would politely say, “I’m sorry, we’re only set up to service autos that we sell. There is a Honda dealer down the street that should be able to help you.” and not, “Get that piece of Japanese trash off this property and don’t come back until you can afford a real car.”

  81. spanky says:


    […]buying that specific product makes you part of a group and that’s what you’re celebrating.

    Wait. People celebrate being part of a group of people who have conducted similar retail transactions?

    And this is something that parents should be teaching their children?

  82. clementine says:

    It’s been awhile since I was young enough to play with dolls but I thought one of the best things about them was that you could style the dolls hair yourself – not pay someone else to do it. And the ad says that they are just going to braid it, put it into a ponytail, or do an updo – not much danger of setting the hair on fire with those hairstyles I would think. Unless there are some super secret style techniques that I’ve never heard of before. All in all, the stylist could have done something other than be a B about it.

  83. cedarpointfan says:

    How disgusting. I wont ever buy/recommend this company.

  84. Buran says:


    It could have been worse. The doll could have been wearing a green dress …

  85. joopiter says:

    @Buran: The going rate for an American Girl is about $90. More if you include the accessories.

  86. jgodsey says:

    I really dislike the whole American Girl $$$ doll fad just BECAUSE it draws a line between children with pricey toys and those who’s parents have better things to do with their money.

    But seeing it spread to these money grubbing über nazis – makes me want to beat them bloody.

  87. AngryRepublican says:

    Wow. I thought that American Girl dolls were ridiculous when my littler sisters ploped down $80 each for a Samantha and Addy doll. But they reinforced a positive message, so I let it slide.

    But this is just… I don’t have the words to describe it. The fact that the parents joined in on the ridicule was even more upsetting to me.

    While my sisters had the dolls and a few books, most of the accessories were hand-crafted by our grandmother, and that is what made the experience that much more uplifting and personal for everyone. It isn’t about the fiscal investment in the doll, it is about the emotional investment of the child.

    I thought that American Girl at least knew that much. I was wrong.

  88. twistedcain says:

    I have a 6 year old… and wow.

    If it was me, I would have told the lady, “Well, we can always buy one of your crappy dolls, but you’ll have to live with those things you call ears for the rest of your life.”

    Once a girl told me I was annoying. I told her she had a big nose. She didn’t of course. Years later I found out she had plastic surgery on her nose. Conceited people are easy to manipulate. She couldn’t have walked down that line of moms and gave each and every one a complex by randomly pointing out faults on any part of their body or face.

  89. rideon says:

    Earlier today I called the store to ask about whether or not one could bring another brand of doll to the salon. I was told that they would only do American Girls because they could replace the doll on the spot if the child was unhappy with the hairstyle and were not able to replace other dolls. While this explanation buys them a bit of slack, the stylist should be disciplined. If the company were smart, they would have some sort of sensitivity training for the stylists. This cannot be the only time something like this has happened.

  90. missdona says:

    All “Barbies,” regardless of their background, were welcome in my Dreamhouse.

    Who is to say her Target doll is not good enough for their swanky salon.

    Doll discrimination!

  91. Pssssst... says:

    Well I’d like to say that this is just one sour apple amongst the bunch that would not do the dolls hair but with the way media and advertising is trying to tell everyone to look, act sound it is not surprising.

    Three cheers for the evil cunt comment by EvilTapioca!

  92. rten says:

    My younger sister had gone to the NY store before and with friends before as part of doll/dinner package and I hadn’t thought much about it. I was surprised at the cost of the dolls and the styling packages (doll facials?). Though I think it’s a bit overdone to blow this type of money on a doll and styling, I was more surprised with how the company and customers responded.

    I called American Girl at 1-800-AG-PLACE, and told them about the article, she said they don’t do non-AmericanGirl dolls due to liability (I guess if the stylist gets pissed and rips out the dolls hair), they can replace the doll with another one from the store. I wonder if they will make a doll called “Charity”, such a touching name.

  93. slackerdeluxe says:

    My wife and daughter will be traveling to the East coast in a few weeks and planned to spend a day in NYC with one of their stops to be the AG Place. My child has saved two years worth of allowance, gifts and money made from selling old toys on Craig’s list in anticipation of the trip. It is a big deal to her.

    After reading about this little girl’s experience I’m very uncomfortable with allowing my own child’s visit to occur. I don’t want to disappoint her nor do I want to condone the behavior of the stylist nor the chauvinism of the other parents described has having witnessed the event by allowing her to spend money with them. I dread using this story has a lesson about right and wrong, but “doing the right thing is sometimes painful”.

    I wonder if we can get the $ back from our subscription to their magazine too.


  94. chefofsin says:

    All right all you American Girl doll owners, get out your web cams and create a video of your doll taking The Blasphemy Challenge. Post the vids on This company’s behavior is absolutly ungodly!!!

  95. a says:

    This really depresses me.
    Branding or not, a person who works for a children’s company should know how to act around them. And as for the mothers in line…I’d liked to have dug out my old Molly doll and used her to whack them over the head.

    @Buran — It’s okay as long as it’s not a real green dress.

  96. North of 49 says:

    Yup, they have sown the ground with a little girl’s tears and are about to reap the whirlwind of a HUNDRED THOUSAND OUTRAGED PARENTS WHO WILL NOTHING TO DO WITH THEIR COMPANY EVER AGAIN.

  97. crankymediaguy says:

    The only thing “real” about this story is the bitch slapping the fucking store employee should have gotten for treating a child like that.

    Let’s be honest here. Elitism aside, being a “doll stylist” is about two tiny steps above working the counter at McDonalds. If I walked into a Mickey D’s and I happened to have a Burger King t-shirt on for some reason and the person behind the counter told me he wouldn’t serve me because I was wearing it, I’d serve the fucking thing to him then and there.

    Fuck American Girl and their employee’s (or employees’) false sense of superiority. Shove your dolls up your ass!

  98. cidreflux says:
    the stores service email we should all email this link to tell their employees are pieces of crap

  99. crankymediaguy says:

    “I called American Girl at 1-800-AG-PLACE, and told them about the article, she said they don’t do non-AmericanGirl dolls due to liability (I guess if the stylist gets pissed and rips out the dolls hair), they can replace the doll with another one from the store.”

    Bullshit. If they screwed up a “fake” American Girl doll, they couldn’t replace it with a “real” one? This is more corporate lying.

  100. raf says:

    What a lot of people seem to miss is a wider perspective. Why are we so concerned with whether a doll gets a hair cut and facial? There must be more important things to teach a child than spoiling her with ridiculous toy hair cuts, and if she doesn’t get her way to mimic a child and stomp our parental feet in public.

  101. rten says:

    oops, it’s 877-AG-PLACE.

    Perhaps they can offer doll purses with minature ‘secured’ credit cards for parents who aren’t willing to pay for the privelege of AmericanGirl Gold…. children, dollies, and parents alike must understand early on where your perceived worth in life comes from. As for me, I’m choosing Platinum, because my daughter is better.

  102. malingering says:

    Don’t even get me started on those ridiculous dolls. I nearly have carpal tunnel writing about them on my blog. I am merely here to do a little education for those who stated that the dolls hair may not be of high enough quality to be styled. They’re not getting a perm here, people. They’re not even getting some chestnut highlights with auburn undertones. They SPRAY THE HAIR WITH WATER, COMB IT WITH A DOLL SIZED BRUSH AND PUT A RIBBON IN IT. That’s it. And if you were not already horrified, here is the price list. Hope you’re sitting down.

  103. North of 49 says:

    Holy hot sheet on a shingle. Seeing the other half’s comments above, yes, the other half of No49 agrees.

    Our money is not going to go anywhere near that store.

    Any connection with Build – A – Bear?

  104. harleymcc says:

    @LaurenKitsune: …that’s cruel.

  105. Falconfire says:

    90 fucking dollars for less than 10 dollars in materials and manufacturing. You have to absofuckinglutly be kidding me.

  106. Dross says:

    We got in to the AG books, they are well written and historical and they stress doing the right thing. Their educational level / value is high.

    We have also been to the NYC store and dropped more money there then we wanted. But all in all it was a good trip in to the city.

    No doubt about it the concept is well branded and marketed.

    We had my daughter’s doll’s hair done at the salon, they did quite a fancy braid for more than my men’s haircut and nose hair trim. But the stylists were friendly and bantered well with the girls.

    The stylist’s comments to Etta seem rather just a bit too swarmy to be true and just a bit too good of copy to be true, I have to wonder if this is not the stuff of urban legends. Everyone has an off day, but the staff of the store seems to be very well trained. I also find the comments of the other mother’s to be “too good to be true” the comments fit too well in to the story line.

    This story does not pass the smell test.

  107. lindyloop says:

    This whole thing smells fishy around the edges.

    Was mom even there or is this all from the mouth of the 6 year old? Because I know a lot of 6 year olds who can make a paper cut sound like an amputated finger and a firm “sorry dear” sound like the Wicked Witch of the West. Also, when little kids are crying and crying, it’s sort of hard for them to hear above their own din to pay attention to the comments of anyone else.

    Does mom have an issue with not being able to afford the AG doll and maybe doctored the facts a bit to make herself feel better? Make AG the big meanie?

    I’d like to see some objective checking-up on this before the mob starts the lynching. I love blogs and all, but there is something to be said for the supposed journalistic rigor of traditional press.

  108. bdude says:

    God I’m lucky I live in a country where we don’t have cults on dolls, and any girl’s happy to have a $25 Bratz doll from Target

  109. WannaGetMatzoBalled says:

    Yeah, right, like liability is a real excuse. I don’t think she brought in a corn husk doll with corn silk hair that was going to be damaged..I’m sure a dollar store doll would hold up to a brushing and bow attachment.
    That said…did other mothers really make those comments, or does it enhance the story? What are the chances of not one but a whole group of mothers making fun of a 6 year old?
    That part, in all honesty, strikes me as kind of…verbal Photoshop.

  110. Chiri says:

    @M3wThr33: to be honest most employees at my build a bear don’t mind at all if a kid brings in their off-brand bear to the store. as an employee I’m used to parents and children bringing in their old antique bears looking for repairs and I gladly handsew them and help choose outfits for old and loved bears. every employee acts the same as I do in our store (I’m only a part-timer), we love the fact that they chose to clothe the bears in our things, they could have easily gone and bought some other stuff somewhere else. I have to say AG was reprehensible, and completely hideous in their guest relations. makes me wanna catch a flight and punch the stylist in the face.

    oh, and yes we have had kids bring their own bears to build a parties before; we just treat them the same and smile. Our store is small and I havent visited many other build a bears, maybe my outlook of how we work is misguided?

    Still, it does not mean that those other women were right in saying such things in front a child; trying to condition their children early on to look down on the less fortunate?

  111. saprophet says:

    I’ve never cared for the suburban snobbery one encounters at shops like “American Doll”
    – particularily when we all know that their product is no less mass produced and machine crafted than anything one would purchase from a Target or similar department store.

    The only reason that the American Dolls are more costly is from the false cachet created by the company itself, a kind of middle class consumerist propaganda that is enthusiastically enforced by their jack-booted employee thugs – who are as deluded by the cultish advertising, as their customers are.

  112. cp87 says:

    @M3wThr33: I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic. I hope so.

  113. vblood911 says:

    All I could think while reading your story is, “that could have been me”. I grew up just as American Girls were coming out on the market, and I love love loved Samanth (who looked like me). My mother thought I was crazy and looking back she might have been right but there was no way we could afford a doll like that. I wanted a doll and furniture to play with so I made my own. I had two identical dolls that had come from k-mart years earlier. I made them into American dolls, making the clothing my self, a bed out of card board boxes, even a dolly for my doll. I was so very proud of them. I gave one to my sister and I have endless memories of the two of us enjoying them. If American Girl Place had been in Manhattan in the early 90’s I’m sure I would have begged for a visit and brought my doll with hand made clothes (mostly with the help of felt and a glue gun). I could only imagine how hurt I would have been. Would I have put my doll down, would I have missed all those close play sessions with my sister.

  114. humphrmi says:


    When you called, did you mention the Consumerist posting too? Did you tell them to read the comments? If not, can someone? (I will…)

    I hope so. I hope they do read these posts, every one. Hey AG! Do you like the words that people are writing about you? Is that good PR? Is this the kind of attention you want? Is this the image that you envision of your product?

  115. M3wThr33 says:

    I’ve seen a lot of exclusive communities in my time. Maybe it’s a tolerance to them. Disappointment has to happen to children at some times in their life. I know it has happened to me.
    Everyone needs to learn about off-brands at some time in their life. It just happened to her in front of an adult and not at the playground.
    Weren’t you ever mocked as a kid for having an off-brand pair of jeans, Payless sneakers or Mega Bloks? What about as a kid when you got a video game for the wrong system?
    Consumers have to be able to think for themselves and sometimes that involves getting burned.
    I know that sounds really elitist, but this is a reality amongst products. A big part of this is based in the community you live in. Richer areas can afford to exclude people.
    If the hair stylist serviced any doll for $20, it would lose the value that made it worth $20 to begin with.
    I doubt that girl is the first one to come in and realize she owns a fake.

  116. ZonzoMaster says:

    Ok i’m not reading all the above posts, but if someone is even trying to excuse those stylists, he/she is a total asshole.

  117. jena-1983 says:


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  118. JRuiz47 says:


    I can certainly remember being mocked for not having the latest, in-style stuff…by kids my own age!

    I don’t remember any “adults” (and I use the term loosely based on the stylist) mocking me.

    Forget consumerism for a second and remember that this is a 6-year-old who was shunned and ridiculed.

    You, me and the rest of us on this Web site can fight for ourselves, a 6-year-old can’t and shouldn’t have to.

  119. 302079 says:


    “If the hair stylist serviced any doll for $20, it would lose the value that made it worth $20 to begin with.”

    Speaking of fake…

  120. cp87 says:

    I have a general distaste for the modern idea of brands. I think that you should be loyal to a brand because of quality, service, ethics–something substantive. It says a lot about a person who consumes a product primarily to exclude others.

    Furthermore, for this specific brand, the actions taken seem to contradict the tradition that the brand was built upon.

  121. supafly says:

    @TheCFC: You have got to be kidding me. Since when does “BRANDING” trump empathy. Whoever this store clerk was obviously has none. REMOVE American Girl and insert any other brand here. How dare someone treat a child like that. Forget the other people in line. Brand or no brand you don’t treat a child like that.

  122. rottdoggie says:

    I’m a father of two…ages 5 and 6 (and a half if you ask him). My youngest is a “bitty baby” girl. If something like this would have happened to her…I don’t know how I would have responded. I was POed enough that these @#$ dolls were soooo expensive to start with.

    If I had gotten her a doll she would have loved just the same and we all could have afforded more reasonably…and been treated this way at a salon…don’t get me started.

    I LOVE Target. They have great quality products and should not be put down for the horrendous behavior of the American Girl franchise. Maybe it’s time for all good girls to come to the aid of their country? Perhaps even buy real “American” dolls and not American Girl (they are currently made in China, I believe). &nbsp&nbsp ;-)

    Anyway…I feel for you, Etta. Be strong and go to college for free on the settlement your parents will get when they sue. They should…American Girl has more money than Exxon it seems.

    Sleep well. America is behind you.

  123. etinterrapax says:

    I don’t think any child should have to learn a lesson about disappointments in life this particular way–that unless she fulfills certain conditions aside from having the proper amount of money, she may be arbitrarily prohibited from purchasing any thing or service that is for sale. Their behavior to her was reprehensible, thoroughly insulting, ungenerous, and I can only hope, damaging to the brand’s reputation.

    I’m torn on the issue of the dolls themselves. I’d love to get all self-righteous and say I’d boycott and who needs it, but I know that if I’d been a child at the right time and my friends all had them, I would have wanted one too. I don’t think that to a child, owning one is an immediate lesson in greed. Greed is more of an attitude about possessions in general, rather than a quality of the possessions themselves. Especially to a child of six, the amount of bullshit we see piled on this product and its branding comes off as a fun fantasy world in which she, innocently enough, wants to participate. It’s certainly up to parents who are wise about such things to limit the amount of money that is spent on accessories for that, but the fantasy is harmless enough, and isn’t the magic drained out of a six-year-old’s life soon enough? Moreover, I think there’s a difference between doing something like this, however ludicrous, as a Very Special Treat, and doing it because it’s Thursday and we have to make more room in the checking account before Daddy brings home more money on Friday, how tiresome. Either way, blaming this little girl or her mother for being treated poorly at a place of business is ungenerous of spirit, at the very least.

  124. racingdodger55 says:

    I think its a shame that a child so young should have been “torn apart” not by older kids, but by other kids Mothers. What kind of a Mother would break this little kids heart because she isnt “one of them”? Im new here and I see that I have to be approved to be a moderator on this site. Like the little girl in this story,I hope Im good enough to belong here.

  125. aligalmaynor says:

    I am horrified and sick, I just bought my little girl, Nicki the Bitch of the Year, from AG. I will never give those shitbitches any more of my money again. I am guessing the child with the target doll is a genuinly better 6 year old than the snotheads waiting in line to get their AG dolls fixed up. Etta can come to my house and play with our target dolls any time she wants, as for the other girls in line tell them to call Paris Hilton.I would have caused such a scene if anyone at that place spoke to my daughter that way. I am so pissed at myself for falling for the AG trap. We also have Target dolls. Adelaide, my daughter is begging for the horse and tack box that come with Nicki. She will be getting a horse from Target or that awesome website that is giving Etta free dolls. I hope that everyone is as sickened by this as I am , i would love to see AG really suffer from this. Who the hell is the stylist-hello she works at a store fixing fake doll hair. Way to make something of your life stylist. I mean really- fixing fake doll hair- I would shoot myself in the face if I had to deal with rich liite bitches and their stupid dolls all day. I would think that this stylist would welcome a sweet, hardworking, responsible, unspoiled, spunky, independent child into her styling chair. But then again she works at AGP in America where girls are taught that money and beauty are all that matters and evidently AGP wants little girls to think that if they don’t have $ they are not welcome in their store I wish I could return Nicki and give Target $179 of my hard earned money.It seems that Etta has a fabulous mother- one that is teaching her good values and good sense. My heart goes out to Etta and her mom. I hope Etta realizes that she is the better person.

  126. embean says:

    I live in Canada and had never previously heard of this concept, but I think it is ridiculous. What a way to teach young kids that having more money makes you a better person.

  127. rmuser says:

    @M3wThr33: Yeah, but that value is what’s fostering an environment of exclusion based on how much you paid for something that’s probably made from $1 of raw materials, regardless of who sold it. It’s a harmful, counterproductive value that deserves to be lost.

  128. Helvetian says:

    It’s fine if people want to spend $90 on these dolls, they must sell really well to have a shop on 5th Ave in Manhattan. I still can’t believe they have a doll salon and stylist, kinda reminds me of the HotWheels Car Centers at toy stores where they had a car repair and car wash for your HotWheels branded cars.

    The manner inwhich the customer was educated about the policy was rude, and condescending. However I agree with the policy of only doing AG dolls. And of course they are not going to replace a non-AG doll with a free AG doll. Otherwise people would start bringing in dolls, say they are unhappy with the hairstyle and then get a free $90 AG doll.

    The part I don’t understand is if the girl was unhappy with the hairstyle, why don’t they just undo it vs replacing the doll altogether? Seems weird.

  129. karina5 says:

    I am the first to acknowledge those dolls are ridiculously overpriced, but this does seem like it could be an urban legend. Has anyone confirmed this story?

    Just sayin’….

  130. Tyr_Anasazi says:

    Yes, the AG salon probably only deals with AG dolls–but does that justify a lack of common courtesy from the ‘stylist’ or the condescending remarks from the other mothers? We are living in a society here!

    My daughter is and will always be an American Girl, with or without insanely overpriced status symbols to buoy her self-esteem.

  131. ViewFromHere says:

    This Consumerist post is the sixth entry on Google under “American Girl Place.” Way to go Consumerist!!

  132. RogueSparks says:

    American Girl Place is for American Girl dolls, and the refusal to style the Our Generation brand doll’s hair is a matter of company policy. ((Our Generation is the brand of 18″ dolls that are sold at Target stores.)) The behaviour of the stylist was uncouth, to be sure, but American Girl is NOT obligated to service products that are not their own, regardless of whether people are willing to pay them to do it.

    The poor behaviour of one employee does not warrant a boycott of AG/Mattel. I have visited American Girl Place New York myself ((I am a collector)) and found the staff to be helpful, patient, and kind. There seems to be a general failure here to realize that the company does not actually condone that sort of behaviour amongst their employees. In fact, girls are welcome to bring non-AG dolls to American Girl Place – they just can’t expect American Girl to provide the same services to that doll as they would to their own product. There is a story about how two adults took a modified Our Generation doll to the café at American Girl place with no resulting kerfuffle here:

  133. bcgrote says:

    Wait, the doll occupies space and time, therefore it is real!!!! Too bad the kid wasn’t an astrophysicist, she coulda set that ‘hairstylist’ straight on a buncha things!

    If I was the stylist, I would have chosen my words much more carefully… maybe her doll is ‘special’ or has ‘special hair’ that the stylist isn’t trianed to handle… Or just take the damn money, throw a band around the dollie’s head, and send the kid off happy….. But that would mean taking customer servide into my own hands, and risk losing my job to keep a customer happy. That’s not the American Way!

  134. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    You know, I think they should just rename the company “American Snob.”

    “I’m sorry dear, your doll isn’t expensive enough to be real. Your parents can’t afford a Mercedes, they certainly don’t have a summer house in Newport, and I’ll bet you don’t have a pony, do you, dear? Oh my, and I’m sure you go to a dreaded public school. Poor little waif.”

    Jesus, just take the $20, style the hair on the girl’s fake, not-expensive-enough doll, and suck it up.

  135. Americana says:

    I’m such a horrible person for laughing.

  136. infinitysnake says:

    @crankymediaguy: One of my first joibs was at a nasty, unsanitary Burger King. I’d work all day and then go eat at the Mcdonald’s next door because I’d be starving- and there was no way I was gonna eart wheree I worked. They did laugh every time I came in, though.

  137. loueloui says:

    I really do that that was kinda heartless even for New York. Then again maybe these dolls are just living up to their moniker -put profits first, and keep out all of the undocumented ones. That’s the American way!

  138. crankymediaguy says:

    humphrmi, I haven’t called American Girl. I was just quoting someone (check and you’ll see the quotation marks around the paragraph. I’m anal like that).

    “Everyone needs to learn about off-brands at some time in their life. It just happened to her in front of an adult and not at the playground.”

    Uh, is “off-brands” a lesson that children need to learn, like how you can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex?

    “Weren’t you ever mocked as a kid for having an off-brand pair of jeans, Payless sneakers or Mega Bloks? What about as a kid when you got a video game for the wrong system?”

    Many people have been mocked for things like that. Does that in any way justify that kind of behavior?

    “Consumers have to be able to think for themselves and sometimes that involves getting burned.
    I know that sounds really elitist, but this is a reality amongst products.”

    Oh, shucks, it only sounds elitist because it IS elitist. Yes, by all means, let’s encourage the boorish behavior of adults toward children because their parents don’t have enough disposable income to buy them a more expensive doll. That “treating people with decency” stuff is so over-rated.

    “A big part of this is based in the community you live in. Richer areas can afford to exclude people.”

    Well, how nice for them to not have to tolerate the presence of, say, dark-skinned people within the walls of their “gated community.”

    Although I’m not black, I’m apparently not good enough to be allowed across the moat to your neighborhood, so you’ll certainly understand when I tell you that I don’t want to spend one dime of my tax money on police to protect your exclusive enclave. Hire your own “exclusive” rent-a-cops.

  139. illovich says:

    @bdgbill who says: “Note to parents: Being disapointed and learning how to get over it is an important part of growing into a normal human.

    The huge deal the mom made about this episode was probably far more upsetting to the child then failing to get her dolls hair styled.”

    That’s an interesting point you made – let me ask for a clarification. Is being humiliated by the adult parents of your 6-year-old peers an important facet of this process?

    What really outraged me was not the actions of the employee (who is likely acting partially out of a top-down elitism that they could likely lose their job over failing to emulate), but the way the sheeple moms went right along with it and felt comfortable talking smack about a 6 YEAR OLD GIRL (and by extension, her parents, of course) and her bo-bo doll.

    My dream reaction as a parent would be to buy my kid two of those stupid dolls and letting her mutilate them in the store… preferably stomping them to bits.

    That would be one of the most satisfying $180 I ever spent as a parent, I bet.

    As an aside, it sounds to me like the mother of the girl is imparting values like “buying what you want with your own money” and “not simply accepting shallow people’s values in order to be accepted” to her daughter, which is infinitely more valuable than buying her daughter the doll so she could fit in.

    And from my (admittedly cloudy) view, it seems like the girl was more upset at being told her doll wasn’t “real” than not getting the hair styling — more to the point, it was that she was singled out for failing to conform to a trend that requires only shelling out lots of money to someone else.

    Bravo to her parents for having the courage to teach her better, by example.

  140. dmt316 says:

    what the hell is a real doll?

  141. nuttree says:

    I just came home from a 4 hour shopping spree and lunch at American Girl Place with my 2 daughters (ages 6 and today turned 8) and my parents….we spent way too much, but we go once a year as a special birthday event, and my girls really cherish their AG dolls and clothes and accessories. I am revolted by all things Disney and find Barbie hard to enjoy, but AG I actually like. Why? They are the anti-Bratz. My 8 year old daughter is very attracted to the Bratz and I forbid it because it is a totally warped presentation of female-hood — all about boys and dating and looks and ridiculous proportions. I won’t spend a dime on Bratz products…but AG feels pretty good. The dolls are proportioned like real girls — no tiny waists and enormous eyes and skinny everything. They are characters with backstory, and the girls are the heroines. Their historical dolls also provide history education. The clothes and accessories are surprisingly well made, if expensive, in this era of plastic-disposable everything. It’s on the pricey side but as a treat….and I have to say, I was pleased with the service we recieved at the Manhattan store, even though it was a madhouse. We had a later lunch than expected and my 6 year old was hungry an hour before…I went up to the cafe hostess staff and asked if they could bring her a small snack….and they did, without charging me. Then my dad, who has a hard time standing, joined us for lunch. We had to wait a few minutes before the doors opened and they offered to bring him a chair from the dining room to the entry space so he could sit until we went in. The lunch was fun for both kids and adults, the food acceptable but beautifully presented. The staffer who slammed the little girl with the “fake” doll (aren’t all dolls fake people?) behaved horridly, as did the other mothers there. But i agree with a previous poster that the mom should have known that it wasn’t a good idea to send her daughter in with a non-AG doll.

  142. canuckistan says:

    What I’m amazed by is that people still have a hard time understanding why everyone else in the world hates America so much:


    Have fun with your exclusive doll salons folks, hope they serve you well in the snowballing decline of your once noble country.

  143. IC18 says:

    When and if I have daughters, its going to be either cabbage patch or plane old barbies, the hell with AGP.

  144. humphrmi says:

    @canuckistan: That’s a fairly presumptuous statement, given the reactions from the majority in this blog entry.

    What country are you from? Do any companies there suck? Then you suck!

  145. kerry says:

    @humphrmi: With a name like “canuckistan,” I would imagine s/he’s from Canada. Just a guess.
    Also, to nuttree – That’s the kind of service I would expect from a AGP, which makes the behavior of the stylist that much more abhorrent.

  146. Brad2723 says:

    American Girl?!?!… More like Stuck-Up American Bitch!

  147. Samby says:

    I have to say that while clarifying whether or not they would style an ‘off-brand’ doll beforehand might have been the prudent thing to do, I could see myself making the same mistake.

    If my daughter was invited by a friend, who probably said, ‘of course you can bring your doll’, and a quick perusal of the website showed that they don’t specify that they only work on their own dolls (it says just bring your favourite doll in), then I might have just gone along.

    And again, like a previous commenter said- if someone is working with kids, they should be trained to deal with them properly, and this worker definitely wasn’t. Even if you want to say that this doesn’t represent AG as a whole, failing to properly prepare their worker is definitely their failing!

  148. yongmuller says:

    The mother showed very good parenting skills by not blowing up at the ladies and teaching her daughter to deal with the manner in a civilized way.

  149. schvitzatura says:

    @ mlehet:

    Another happy cult member of a cult family.

    No way is my daughter getting one of these things!

  150. I’m not surprised.
    A lot of the people who need to spend outrageous sums of money on plastic crap manufactured overseas are insensitive, status obsessed dolts.

    I see the parents walking on Fifth Avenue with those stupid bags and sometimes,
    I just want to kick them in the back of their heads for being such willing sheep.

    even if the mother sent the little girl in with a non AG doll,
    that doesn’t justify the stylist and the other customers’ insensitivity and perceived superiority.

    Classist, capitalist, narcissistic piggish women.

    Can’t wait to see how their daughters turn out.

  151. one more point to all the people who highlight their wonderful experiences with AG — maybe the staff is so charming, patient and nice with you because they feel you have proven your worth by purchasing their highly coveted products?

    Subsequently, the little girl with the non AG doll wasn’t worthy of their humanity because she hadn’t purchased it.

  152. Hoss says:

    The mother should be giving her kid a better value structure in the first place. This is sickening.

  153. angelmom1 says:

    According to Oxford American Dictionary:

    Doll: A small model of a human figure, especially as a child’s toy.

    According to American Heritage Dictionary:

    Doll: a figure representing a human being, used especially as a child’s toy.

    How can an adult tell a child that theirs isn’t a real doll? Not only were the adults stupid in their comments to this child about her doll, they showed cruel and inhuman behavior toward a 6 year old. How far down must some people go to prove their superior, apparently pretty damned low.

  154. ray210 says:

    I emailed the rats saying that I was upset by their employee’s behavior and here the reply of someone named “American Girl Customer Service.” Nice dodge on their part:

    Dear American Girl® Friend,

    Thank you for e-mailing us about your concerns. We appreciate the
    opportunity to address issues directly with our customers.

    First, please know that it is the No. 1 priority of our staff to ensure
    that every child who walks through our doors feels special and welcome.
    If we learn of any behavior to the contrary, we strive to remedy the
    situation as soon as possible.

    Unfortunately, in the case you are referring to, we were never contacted
    directly by this customer, so we have been unable to attempt to rectify
    the situation or gather more details to investigate the incident further
    on our end.

    It is important to note that many girls visit American Girl Place with
    various dolls in tow, and we are happy to have them share in any of our
    experiences, such as our Cafe, Theater, and Photo Studio, which do not
    involve an actual service for the doll. Please understand that we are
    only equipped to replace, repair, or style dolls that we manufacture.
    Our Doll Hair Salon and Doll Hospital are tailored to the specific
    materials used in our doll lines, and?because we can?t be sure of the
    materials used in other products?we do not want to risk damaging a
    child?s favorite toy by using an incorrect procedure.

    Providing high-quality service is the hallmark of American Girl, and our
    sales associates are trained to always provide positive, respectful, and
    professional service to our guests. When problems do arise, they are
    empowered to take responsibility and do whatever they can to make it
    right. On the rare occasion that this does not occur, we strongly
    encourage our customers to contact us directly so we can correct the
    situation immediately.

    Again, thank you for the opportunity to address this issue with you. We
    hope this information has been helpful.


    American Girl Customer Service

  155. helios150 says:

    I’m not trying to play the bully, but might I remind you that consumerism and brand marketing is part of our culture! I’m not saying that the stylist was right for her judgment call, but look at similar big name shops. You can’t bring other merchandise to Desiel or Seven for all mankind to be altered or personalized. The PS3 is not for everyone, its a computer for “hard-core gamers!” Starbucks only hires 5% of applicants to become your cherished baristas! So if all of this is common knowledge, why should American Girl bend their rules for one girl. Again, it should have been dealt with a bit more disretion, and I’m sorry that it hapenned.

  156. daze says:

    i wouldn’t want my child to own a Real Doll anyway. and by that, i mean the most amazing sex doll ever created (according to people i’ve never met).

  157. dknighton says:

    Wow…New Yorkers are always arrogantly proclaiming how their city is the greatest on earth. Sounds to me like they’re just a bunch of elitist @sshats. I’m sure those mothers in the line went home in their SUV’s afterwards and told all their Stepford Wife buddies the story over a nice bowl of Vicodin.

  158. anniemagus says:

    You people really need to start reading some of this woman’s other blogs. So far this morning I’ve read about her cleaning lady, the VCR in her minivan, her trips to a spa (without the kids) and to Ireland (with the kids), summer camps, kitchen renovations on the Brooklyn brownstone she and her husband purchased, and an expensive nit-picker. And we’re supposed to believe that this kid is wearing thrift-shop clothes? Give me a break. The stylist told the woman and Etta that she couldn’t do the doll’s hair. The woman probably got pissed and caused a scene while Etta stood there crying. The other moms probably started saying nasty things because the woman was holding up the line. I see it all the time.

    According to the blog, Etta is the one who chose to buy the Target doll rather than the AG doll. So even if the stylist was rude, she wasn’t telling Etta anything that she didn’t already know…her doll was NOT a real AG doll.

  159. Glumslinger says:

    This mentality is why I have chosen not to have a child of my own.

  160. Trackback says:

    If you’ve been to the Grove lately, you know about the American Girl Doll phenomenon: 7 year old girls dragging around $86 dolls with matching clothing that sells for about $80 per outfit for the girl (and $25 per outfit for the doll).

  161. r0ck0nlcrss16 says:

    This incident is really sad to me, as a girl who grew up really loving the American Girl dolls. But alas, I outgrew them before Mattel took over, so I cannot comment on how the company must have changed in the turnover. I did have a real doll,(along with plenty of fake ones) but I was also born to a family that wasn’t about to spend money on things they could make themselves, so my mother and my grandparents painstakingly made all the furniture and clothes for my dolls themselves. they would try their best to copy it so it looked like the things in the catalogue, but I was always aware where the items came from, and I have to say that it never bothered me. To a little girl who loves her dolls, she is just happy to spend hours dressing and undressing them, combing their hair, then putting them to bed over and over. she doesn’t care about the brand names. Since when was it about brand names, anyway? I always thought American Girl was about letting a child be a child, teaching her something in the process (after all, all the books I remember had historical themes) and giving her a lifelong love of reading and learning and creativity. If this isn’t what it is about, what is it?

    When I first heard they were opening the American Girl place, I really wanted to go, even though I think I was a bit too old by that point. I still might have liked to have gone at some point, if it wasn’t for this article. Now, I’m really rather disappointed that AGP isn’t the heaven I thought it was. Shame on you, Mattel, for breaking a child’s heart, making her cry and shaming her for no reason other than your own selfishness and materialistic motives. Is that what we are trying to teach our children? Is this how we want them to see the world? If that is your anthem, I know my child is never going to have a new doll from you. She can have my old dolls, which are thankfully still in good condition, and the beautiful outfits and furniture my family made with tender LOVING care. At least my child will always know what is really important in this life. thank you.

  162. amarellis says:

    Good site to “vent” but I can do without the vulgar language in ome posts! Shame on American Girl for refusing to do the dolls hair. Her Mommy should have slapped the store clerk in the face for causing that little girl to cry and be humiliated in front of her friends. She deserved nothing less. I buy My Twinn dolls now and they are prettier and less expensive! Shame Shame! Barbie

  163. Bailey158 says:

    I am a little shocked over people being so angry with American Girl. I think the mom needs to accept a little more responsibility. If your Chevrolet car breaks, do you take it to Ford to fix it?? I can see where American Girl would not want to do anything to someone else’s doll…AG has tested the hair and what they are using and know it is safe on their dolls. Go to Build-A-Bear and I bet they won’t repair a stuffed animal that is not one of theirs! This MOM should have known better or should have checked….sounds like she puts an awful lot of responsibility on her 6-year-old in the letter!

    I really hate that people feel how they do about American Girl…they really are not much different than many other companies out there. Look at the cars some buy….take into consideration jeans. Everything has a cheap version and an expensive one that is way over priced. Consumers have the freedom to make choices. American Girl is a very successful company which tells me plenty of people have made the choice to buy there. And I am sure there are plenty of kids who can’t afford an American Girl….welcome to life! Most of us can’t afford BMW’s so should they stop making them? I am sure there are lots of families out there who have no problem with the American Girl price. If you can’t afford it, trust me this isn’t going to be the only thing in life you can’t afford. But don’t knock the place because others can and do.

    If the stylist really said things the way the lady claims, that was rude and at the most AG needs to find a new stylist. Mom was mad and then rehashing this in her email so you have to really wonder if it was said the way she indicates. If we had been there, I think some of us might have a slightly different version about how things took place (and this might account for her opinion of other’s responses as well). There is no greater wrath than that of a mother bear protecting her cub!

  164. thefrogpryncess says:

    I make my granddaughters dolls from muslin and calico. I hand-sew the yarn hair onto their heads. I draw the faces with fabric markers. This doesn’t make them any less “real” than a $90 doll. In fact, the store-bought dolls sit on the shelf while the rag dolls get played with all the time. I can make a doll and 25 outfits with bloomers, lace, ruffles and ribbons for less than the price of that one doll, and I’ll bet she lasts longer.
    This is about keeping up with the Joneses just as much as buying the latest vehicle with a DVD player to pacify the kids so you don’t have to talk to them, and buying them a computer system to teach them ABCs and colors so you don’t have to do it yourself. We’ve become a society far more concerned with what we own than who we are, and it’s sad.
    While I feel for the child in question, I’d not have even considered allowing a child of mine to go to that store. Instead, I’d have spent some time teaching her why that kind of thing is a waste of money and educating her on more responsible use of finances.
    But then again, I’m horribly old-fashioned…after all, I make my grandchildren dolls and pajamas and pillowcases, just like I did for my own kids.

  165. catwalk says:

    Wow! Is this true? Some heads need to roll. If I were this girl’s mom, I would have taken my child by the hand and told her gently that we were going somewhere civilized. That is, if I could have resisted the overwhelming urge to bitch-slap the bunch of whores and tell them what pathetic excuses for parents they all were. Some people obviously confuse the propensity for shelling out heaps of money for useless material crap with true human worth. This story reminds me of when I used to wait tables and the 4 wealthy women at the table were admiring the gaudy new diamond bracelet one was wearing that probably cost as much as my house. She says, “someone asked me if it was real–I mean, why would anyone wear FAKE jewelry?” They all laugh haughtily. I swear I am not making this up. Then one of them, noticing my proximity, says patronizingly, “Well, So-and-So, some people can’t AFFORD real jewelry.” Did I mention how hideous this bracelet was? Oh, they also made sure they didn’t leave a penny more than 15% at the end of all this. But I’m a grown woman and this is a little girl. Makes me want to send back that doll I just ordered–covered in vomit, because I think I’m gonna hurl.

  166. AllePaetra says:

    I’m curious… the reaction of the mother who took Etta to the store is missing in the blog. Did she stand up for Etta? Did she demand an apology from the stylist and the other mothers who were imparting their elitist opinions to Etta? Did she insist on speaking with a manager?

    I’m not talking about rude confrontations, but firmly expressing disappointment at the way the adults were acting.

    When my children’s friends are with me, I am their proxy-parent. I care for them like my own and their feelings and physical comfort are my utmost priority. I have been fortunate in my 25 years of parenting to never have had an experience like this one.

    Actually, I misspoke. It is the good fortune of the person(s) who would be heartless enough to make a target of any child (or a person of any age) with me.

  167. formerdollstylist says:

    Just wanted to add to the discussion on the little girl who’s doll was refused at the AGP Doll Hair Salon…. As a former doll hair stylist (and customer service associate and trainer) I can tell you two things 1)The stylists are NOT allowed to do hair services on non-AG dolls. Reason? We know what the AG dolls hair is made of and have been trained on how to work with it. The same can not be said for other dolls. And 2) The stylist obviously did NOT explain properly the reasoning for saying “no”. I experienced this situation MANY times during my time with AGP-Chicago, and I can tell you, I never let a little girl walk away upset. I may not have been able to style her doll’s hair, but I certainly could give her a “facial” (the doll skin cleaner works on ANY plastic doll) and I could also certainly put pretty ribbons in her doll’s hair…. and maybe in the girl’s hair to match. Don’t judge all AGP associates on ONE associate’s bad behavior!

  168. Anonymous says:

    When I worked at Joanne’s a mother was preparing for her daughter’s America Girl themed birthday where the girls bring their dolls. I asked her what if an invited girl didn’t have a doll. The blank bemused look on her face was priceless.

  169. mamasita says:

    Wow. My daughter has an American Girl and I am a single mother who can barely afford to shop in their store. I do live in Atlanta and I did take her and spent over $30.00 for a pair of earrings, shoes and purse for her. Anyway, I was just online at looking for a few things for her birthday and ran across this website. I will no longer be purchasing from them. I feel horrible for the little girl. There are always exceptions that one could make and this seems to be one of those times.

  170. snooty says:

    I am disappointed all the little girls want an “American” girl doll which is not made in America. Just like all of the other dolls they are made in China or elsewhere. They are very expensive as are their clothes, etc. I wish this was all over the news in this hard economic time so they would move production to the US and employ americans. The children are brainwashed to think they are better or special but there is no special craftmanship, etc. just the name.
    I have purchased these in the past to please my daughters but feel they are nothing special.

  171. magsmum says:

    My 6 year old daughter is in love with a 30 dollar target doll, her name is Rahel and she’s from Ethiopia. Part of the proceeds from her sale are donated to WorldVision. The Rahel doll and the other 11 dolls all have backstories and are beautiful and well-made. My daughter was first attracted to the Rahel doll because they looked alike. She was hooked by the backstory and enjoyed learning about Ethiopia. She was also very taken with the idea of helping others and it gave us an opening to talk about being thankful for what we have and our responsibility to help others. Not too bad for a fake doll.