Last week, the American Girl doll company made a big announcement. American Girl is putting different underwear on it’s dolls — in fact, the dolls will now have their underwear sewn on to their cloth bodies, rather than be separate accessories to purchase that could be interchanged. And apparently, not everyone is happy with the change. But is it such a bad thing?
As aforementioned, in the past, American Girl dolls had undergarments that could be removed and interchanged. The new design reportedly doesn't interfere with any previous clothing designs, and shouldn't impact the look of the dolls if they have swimwear on either. But the change is causing controversy among parents and collectors.
American Girl released a statement on its Facebook page about the change, in an attempt to reassure its followers that it shouldn't interfere with any of the doll clothes collectors may have:
For those who haven’t seen it yet, below is a side-by-side picture for comparison. The doll on the left is in a pair of our existing briefs; the doll in the middle features the new design; and the doll in the swimsuit has the new underwear design underneath. As you can see, the underwear will not interfere with any of our doll clothes and should not interfere with our swimwear.
So if the change — which will reportedly affect the BeForever characters Julie, Melody and Maryellen, and all of the Truly Me doll series — doesn't appear to impact the look of the dolls, or the ability to dress the dolls, why are parents and other customers upset by it? Mostly, the criticisms seem to come down to quality.
According to People, in comments to the post, some Facebook users were critical of the new manufacturing design. They quoted one woman as saying:
The boxes, zip ties and now sewn-on underwear are all cost cutting measures that reduce the quality of these dolls from heirloom quality to be passed down for generations to low-quality retail.
Another replied to the post:
Why change something that didn’t need fixing? Girls 8-12 can keep track of their doll’s panties. My girls are really disappointed about this unnecessary change. It has to somehow save you money because there wasn’t any call for permanent underwear.
There's even a Change.org petition making the rounds, titled, "Stop Attached Doll Underwear for American Girl Dolls." Twitter user @SarahBeighey linked to it in this tweet, saying, "Mattel: Stop Attached Doll Underwear for American Girl Dolls - Sign the Petition!"
But is the change such a bad thing? It could actually make playing with the dolls slightly easier, since there's one less piece of clothing to keep track of. Do kids really care that much about whether they can take off their dolls' underwear or not?
The change could even lead to conversations about consent, and age-appropriate discussions regarding who can take off someone's underwear and when. If the default is that they're on the doll in the first place, couldn't parents use the change as a catalyst to have a talk with their kids about when it's OK for undergarments to be taken off?
Romper has reached out to American Girl for comment on the change and the concerns or parents and collectors, but did not immediately receive a response. Overall, it seems like a useful change that will ease play for kids and also makes subtle important statements about consent.