American Girl Dolls and why I’m NOT cashing in my 401K for them

Okay, so Zoey just got her first (and hopefully last) American Girl Doll as a gift, and let me say this. HOLYYYYY SHIT am I in the WRONG business. I mean you know how they say a house is $XX per square foot? I think they should do the same for these dolls. This is Isabelle. She’s wearing a lovely floral frock that is $12 per square inch. Not really, but damn, this is more expensive than a meth habit. Not that I know how much a meth habit costs.

So a little while ago Zoey and Holden’s great grandparents were coming to visit and they asked me to buy presents for the kids so they wouldn’t have to schlep them on the plane.

GRANDMA SHIRLEY: Karen dear, can you find some things the kids want for about $100 each and I’ll pay you back?

ME: No problemo, Granny.

So I used the money to get myself a massage and then I hit the dollar store for the kids. Kidding. I didn’t even think about doing that. Reallllly I didn’t. But guess what I ended up getting them. Beds!! Yup, Zoey got a bed for $125 and Holden got a bed for $100. Awesome! Only here’s the thing. Zoey’s bed was for an 18-inch plastic doll. And Holden’s was for a 37-inch real live human being.



I shit you not. The bed that was for a plastic doll was MORE expensive than the bed that was for my real live human son. But I guess it’s worth it because Isabelle the doll has slept in it every single night, and day, and basically around the clock because Zoey hardly ever plays with her. Thank God she has a comfy expensive bed to sleep in while she’s being neglected.

Anyways, now that I bought some piece of shit, uhhh, I mean this lovely canopy bed from American Girl Doll, they must think we’re millionaires or something because they keep sending us catalogs, and the other day I opened one up to see if maybe there’s a reason I should cash in our 401K to buy some more of their shit. On page 7 of the catalog, I found this lovely number.

AG bike

A beeeeautiful 16-inch bicycle for a mere $115. Well, of course it’s expensive, according to the description it has faux-wood handlebars. Not just any old wood– FAUX wood. Huh, I wonder what faux wood is. Could it be, hmmm, let me see, umm, maybe plastic? Yes, in American Girl Doll world, it’s faux-wood. In the real world, we call that brown plastic. So I went looking on to see whether they have any bikes with faux-wood that I could compare it to. Hey, looky, here’s one!

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Awwwwseome, this bike has a bunch of green faux-wood on it. Oh, and it’s $25 cheaper. AND it’s life-sized AND it has an extra seat for a doll AND it can take a real live child TO places. As in, it is ACTUAL transportation that works. But I’m not gonna make a judgment call based on just one item, so let’s flip a little deeper into the American Girl Doll catalog. Page 65. Mmmmmm, breakfast.


Wait, WHAT? $58?! For miniature food I can’t even eat! That’s over $3 per piece. I shit you not, I did the math and that minuscule fork (get out your magnifying glass) is THREE DOLLARS. Which leads me to this.

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This, my friends, is the Lumberjack Slam at Denny’s. It costs, drumroll please, $8.99!!! Yup, 49 bucks less for REAL food that can actually save your life if you are starving to death or on your way home from a frat party. But I know what you’re thinking. But but but, my daughter can use the American Girl Doll breakfast over and over and over again for years and years. Ennnh, wrongo, ‘cause each item is like a centimeter long and will most likely drop into a crack or fall into a vent or be sucked up into your Dyson when you accidentally step on that stupid $3 pitcher of OJ with bare feet and decide to purposely suck up that Medieval foot-torture device with your vacuum hose.

Okay, so you get the picture. But I think I’m gonna beat a dead horse. Here are just a few more American Girl Doll items I stumbled upon and had some thoughts about.

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The description of this $75 horse says “this beautiful horse is sure to be a true friend.” Well, guess what. For $75, I can buy a stranger like 14 drinks at the local bar and make a true friend who can actually do shit. Like breathe and talk and drive me home if I’ve had one too many.


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A vintage-style barrette card. My ass it is. It doesn’t even say American Girl Doll on it. How much you wanna bet they looted a defunct Woolworth’s and are selling their old barrettes for 60 times the price?


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$110 for a tiny spa chair. $110!!! For $110 I can go to the real spa. So let me think about this, should I buy my kid a piece of plastic shit she’s going to lose all the pieces to or should I lie and tell my husband I have a doctor’s appointment and leave him with the rugrats so I can spend a luxurious afternoon at the spa? Hmmm, what a dilemma.


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In case you don’t know what this is, this is a stand to prop up your American Girl Doll. And heyyy, it’s not too bad. Only 18 bucks. No, not bad at all. Unless, hmmm, I wonder if we already have something we can use in our house to prop up our doll. Oh awesome, I totally thought of something. Guess what our house came with. Walls!! And they’re free!!!

And last but not least, how on earth can your doll live without this? Her very own skiff!! That’s fancy for “a boat” in case you’re wondering. I looked it up.


I mean what else would she use to get around in the water. Wait, what’s that you say? You can’t put it in water? I shit you not. The description specifically says that you can’t put this boat in water. This ONE-HUNDRED-SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLAR boat is NOT waterproof. And no, that’s not a typo. It’s $175. But of course it is. After all, it comes with TWO itty-bitty oars AND a cloth sail, made of, get this, REAL cloth!!

Anyways, do I think American Girl Dolls are awesome for imaginative play? Hells yeah. But get this, imaginative play is even better when you don’t have every single little item you need and have to use your actual imagination. Do I think it’s really cool how girls are learning about history from these dolls? Sure. But I also know that history books are FREE at the library. And yes, I know this stuff is super cute and they didn’t have it all when we were kids, but if we resist buying all this faux-wood and pretend spa salts, I’m pretty sure we could feed all of the children in Africa. And that would be pretty cool.

Don’t forget to check out (and by check out, I mean buy) my books  I Heart My Little A-Holes and I Want My Epidural Back!! They’re the perfect holiday present for anyone you want to spend $12 on!


There are 66 comments for this article
  1. Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense at 8:18 am

    Yeah. It’s insanity. I tried to have my sister committed to an insane asylum over this s**t but apparently that’s not reason enough? *confused face*

    Toys R Us has a line called Journey dolls. They are beautifully made with pretty clothes and barely any bald spots on their head and are a fraction of the cost. Buy those instead.

    • Nancy S at 9:20 am

      I just received American girl catalogue and on the front page is only whites girls, so I do not want to receive their catalogue.

      • Dakota at 1:33 am

        Really? Look at the price point of these dolls and think about some things like who do you think is mostly purchasing? The dolls are often paired with eras in history …how many periods in non white ethnic groups history are child appropriate? There are many ethnicities represented in the dolls, African American (2017 Girl of the YEAR is an African American girl!), Native American, Hispanic, Asian, heck one is even half Hawaiian! What more do you want out of dolls, an item that has traditionally been something made to perfectly match the buyer? (Who through history has been Caucasian girls almost exclusively) At least AG tackles history. And if you want your doll to simply match her owner physically they have Just Like You line where you can find nearly any combination. They even have custom dolls for girls with no hair (which they will take back and put any color/style hair you want if your child regrows hair like post chemo) dolls with hearing aids, wheelchair, crutches …they even did a custom doll with prosthetics for an amputee! I don’t know how much more inclusive and diverse you want a DOLL to be!
        Maybe look deeper than the cover before you judge?

  2. Mistrest at 10:19 am

    Mine got their “My Girl” (or maybe it’s “My Life”) dolls at Walmart. And the wheelchair, and bed, and horse, and clothes and shoes etc etc etc…. for less than $150 for ALL of it together! We do NOT go in the American Girl store. Not happening. S**t, after the last time at the mall, I won’t even take them to build-a-bear anymore! 😉 all too expensive. Especially for stuff that they will only tell you that they’ll play with forever!

  3. Shelli at 11:01 am

    Between my two girls, we have eleven… Yes 11. American Girl Dolls. I have never bought one, it has become tradition for my mom to buy them a new one each Christmas. It’s insane. I want to Craigslist those things soooo badly. This will be the Christmas I tell her to stop. My girls are getting too old and do not realize the value of what they have. It’s ridiculous.

  4. Christy at 11:33 am

    My daughter wants one. She has a perfectly good, beautiful doll from the Target line (called Our Generation or something). It has great accessories and everything. She barely plays with it. I am NOT going to spend a fortune on an American Girl Doll just because of the marketing. I wanted to die when a good friend of hers had a party at the store here. Thanks for opening that can of worms! Haven’t been back since.

  5. christine at 5:35 pm

    any item of furniture my dad and my daughter made for next to nothing with wood for her american girl dolls.

  6. Mia at 6:03 pm

    I have found many YouTube videos that show how to make a lot of the American girl doll items and it is something fun kalea and I can do together for a fraction of the cost. Its OK to not want to buy the high priced items but don’t knock those who do. Just be creative and stay in your own financial lane. You don’t have to go broke to make the doll experience fun!!

  7. jack at 6:35 pm

    Actually…while I agree it is insane they have a product that people continue to line up to hand over cash for…market demand is the ultimate decider of price…so obviously the price isn’t that bad. Comparatively…one might also say why does an Xbox cost $499 dollars? Why does a Cell phone cost $500 to $700 without a contract….why does a jeep Cherokee cost as much as a small house? In reality $100 bucks just isn’t really that much anymorem

    • generationnext at 12:32 am

      I really agree with you here and you make a valid point. People are paying hundreds on cell phones. For what? You can get a simple phone that gets the job done much easier. And yet people buy it. Xbox costs a lot for a game console. Games are also not cheap. 100 bucks have become the new $50. The market demand is high. People really want these authentic pieces. There are many collectors too. Good post.

  8. Jessie at 6:38 pm

    Thank you Karen, for not buying this over priced crap!

  9. Gayla at 7:53 pm

    In the event you actually decide to buy more plastic s**t for those creepy dolls, target sells “my generation” which is essentially the poor man’s American Girl. You can get that spa chair for about $30. And apparently it comes with way more s**t than the AG one.

  10. Keeshla at 8:27 pm

    You should check out especially since you love American Girl so much! Lol

  11. Amaya at 10:02 pm

    I have two. I blame it on being poor as a child and deciding to enjoy myself as a well-paid adult. But this is the only thing I spend money on, I don’t do designer clothes and purses or get my hair done so I need some sort of vice.

  12. Shannah at 7:18 am

    While the dolls are a good investment for a child who takes care of their toys the accessories are way too expensive. Target has a good line of the same size dolls with fabulous accessories.

  13. librarybecka at 10:13 am

    The worst part about this is the doll and all of her accessories are made in China- ironic isnt it? An American Girl Doll made in CHINA!!!!!

    • Tracy at 2:23 pm

      That is very true, although, did you know they have a 24 hour number in their catalog and the call center is biased in the us. Wish I lived closer to the call center, how cool would it be to be paid to look at doll stuff all day.

  14. Shannah at 10:16 am

    Probably when they were bought by Mattel. I do think they may have been made in the USA before that. Though don’t quote me on it!

    • Amy at 4:11 pm

      They were made in Germany back in 1986 until matel bought them.

    • AA at 7:00 pm

      Before they were made in s**t china they were made in Germany! AND they were better quality! unfortunately American Girl dolls were never made in USA!

  15. Sarah at 12:47 pm

    This is a terrific post. You’ve convinced me that the American Girl corporation should basically fall into an ocean. Although the copy on those descriptions is pure magic, so I’ll give them that.

  16. Liz at 9:39 pm

    This is effing hilarious. I haven’t laughed out loud at anything that much in a long time. I blame the wine. And you. Thank you for making my night.

  17. Christina at 4:21 pm

    I am pretty sure that I have said this before but I’ll say it again. I love you! LOL I will be texting my cousin in a bit to tell her thanks again for pointing me to your blog. Oh yeah, and I’m glad I have a boy. He’s begging for a game for his Xbox that cost $15! Another one is as much as $50 but hey, it will keep him busy for ever if I let him and the “accessories” are only a buck a piece.

  18. veerhapsody at 11:51 pm

    Why did you buy the bed if you’re just complaining? You could’ve went to Toys r us and got lots of stuff for $100, even Target.

    • Mandy at 7:20 pm

      She thought she was buying an ACTUAL bed for her daughter, not a doll bed. Which is what prompted the acticle to begin with.

      • Ava01 at 5:52 pm

        No, I don’t think she thought that she was buying a life-sized bed. She bought a real bed for her son, and the doll bed for her daughter’s American Girl doll. Intentionally. Which goes back to the veerhapsody’s comment, I guess…

  19. KatWiles at 4:45 pm

    As a librarian, I do appreciate that there are historical fictions to match each of the girls.

    • Christina at 1:23 pm

      As a librarian, you could create a whole host of backstories for each family that brings in cheaper dolls from Walmart. Or here’s an idea – give a child a historical fiction novel and encourage them to create their own backstory!

  20. One Funny Motha at 9:04 am

    I actually worked in the building next to the AMerican Girl Doll store in Manhattan when my daughter was little. When I saw that place I said, “The Kid must never know about this.” But, apparently, she has independently wealthy relatives that bought her that s**t. The best is in the store they have a hair salon – not for real people but for the dolls. Yes, you too can spend money to have your doll’s hair done. And that is why this world is insane.

  21. Danielle at 8:57 pm

    I loved the article but laughed my head off when I noticed the add on your page (right next to your article) was for none other than American Girl doll! Oh the irony!

  22. Randi V at 1:08 am

    The Accessories for the knockoffs at Walmart target and toys r us are cheaper and work with the AG dolls

  23. cath young at 2:05 pm

    Umm, the food comparison is not valid. Your food turns to s**t within a few days, whereas the AG or any fake food lasts as long as you take care of it. Takea look at what some good miniature thing cost in the way of doll houses and accessories. Some of the stuff makes AG look cheap.

  24. Clio at 9:58 am

    I still have a little stock of well kept AG stuff from when I was of an age to play with them. (Way back when The Pleasant Company was a thing and put some effort into manufacturing them!) I am hoping that when the girl is old enough, I can pass on my things and spin them as “vintage” or “limited edition” so I can A) really feel like my mom got her money’s worth and B) not have to have a “would you rather have a doll or go to college?” discussion.

  25. Julia at 11:03 am

    This is the best post ever! I’m not a fan of American Dolls at all.

  26. Tracy at 2:17 pm

    Target and toys r us have thier own versions, although its less than half of price of AG, I hear ya. Still way too expensive for just toys.

    • Tracy at 2:28 pm

      Although that hasn’t stopped me from buying them, my daughter has 8, some we bought on eBay. Journey girls are actually more attractive. And I really can’t say anything, I spent a ton of money on birthday and Christmas on the target doll accessories for these dolls, and I’m guilty of getting the doll the spa treatment whenever we go to an AG store. I make sure we vacation near one. Obviously I have a problem, the stuff is just way too cute.

  27. Priestessraven at 2:34 pm

    Last year my mother bought one for my daughter. This year, I sewed my fingers off making outfits for the darn thing for presents. Pinterest has been my savior with free patterns.

  28. tessame1 at 2:48 pm

    I took the catalog to my husband’s Grandfather and he made the furniture for our daughter. It looked just like what was in the book for a lot less money and it now has sentimental value and will be passed down to the next generation. AND it’s made with REAL wood!!!

    • Amy at 4:18 pm

      Honestly, a lot of the furniture there is made from real wood. My younger sister had a journey doll which fell apart after a month and my american girl doll has stood the 20 year test of time. What more could I ask for than a doll that has a lot of sentimental value to me because my late grandmother got them for me when I was a girl. One day your daughters will cherish them and pass them along to their daughters too.

  29. Nonya at 4:56 pm

    Sorry, but it should be Anyway, … NOT ANYWAYS.

  30. Rene at 9:29 pm

    You can buy clothes, accessories, and beds on Amazon, Target, even at Michael’s. They are not American Girl line items but made for 18″ dolls so they fit/work. On Amazon, this time of year, you can catch some items listed in their lightning deals. At Michael’s, you can use their 40% or 50% off a regular price item coupons. I am not a fan of spending obscene amounts of money on s**t like this for my daughter, but I will spend a little to make her happy.

  31. thecookiegal at 7:00 pm

    ha, Ha ha! I LOVE THIS!! I have been posting about such things as I get these horrible over priced toy catalogs in the mail for me 2.5 and 15 month old!!!
    My “fav” has to be the Pottery Barn Washer and Dryer: “this set lets kids expand their playtime activities and learn that “chores” can be fun.”
    yeah – I let my 2.5 year old put REAL clothes in a REAL dyer, that actually DRYS my clothes! She thinks it is great fun! she also earns money by putting her clothes in the hamper and picking up the toys. Right now she says she wants to “buy a house” with her money.

  32. Danielle at 9:29 pm

    LMAO!!!! I was searching for a place to buy this doll for my daughter for Christmas and I found this!! I’m so glad I did!! I laughed so hard and have decided that I am not going to get her one because, you are absolutely right about the doll staying in the bed! I know she will love it for the first day and then it will sit somewhere and the hair will get all screwed up and I’ll be resenting it every time I look at it for costing so much!!! Think I’ll spend the money on your book!! LOL

  33. robyn at 11:54 am

    I have been taking care of it for a day. Note this is the girl who usually breaks her dolls. I love it though. It’s a hippie type of doll. This is also the girl who is the political blabbermouth in the house. I love my doll, as it’s not like I have a trillion of them, this is my first one and I love it. I want to take care of it. If you’re going to get it for your kid, unless you either have a kid who loves dolls and is super responsible and is careful with things-this would be my sister if she loved dolls, or you want a broken doll that you spent a 100 dollars on, tell them to take good care of it.

  34. cheryl at 2:17 pm

    I love ag dollls I have three and I’m getting the new beforever for mysef

  35. Tammy at 2:50 pm

    Thank you for the laugh. I found this as my daughter was opening her new American Girl doll that I noticed was made in China. This and last Christmas my daughter spent her gift money on a doll. She does play often with the one. But still so true and funny.

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  37. Michelle at 8:11 pm

    I disagree with part of this blog. The dolls are worth $100 in my opinion. I had 3 growing up and now my daughter has them. They are very well made, unlike the other brands of dolls. However, I do feel the accessories are overpriced and i do stick with the off brands when buying things like beds, horses, etc.

  38. jacsan at 8:23 am

    I am an adult AG fan and collector. In my honest and humble opinion. People shouldn’t criticize other people just because they don’t share the same priorities. I mean, is spending $100 on a doll when there are much cheaper dolls out there ridiculous? Yes, definitely, but isn’t it the same when y ou buy a $500 phone when there are much cheaper phones? What about video games? It’s the same thing, it’s spending money on things you (in a tangible, concrete way) don’t need. As for me, I buy them cause I enjoy them, as much as anyone out there with a $500 phone, an expensive car or a Xbox. I have all my bills paid up for. I have money for groceries, and since it’s my hard earned money, I think I can spend it in whatever I want. As for playthings for a kid? It definitely would have to depend on how this girl appreciates the cost of things and the sacrifice or effort an adult puts in to be able to purchase them. But again, it’s everybody’s busness not mine to criticize what people spend their money in. The quality, well definitely much much better than the cheaper brands in the market. The high cost? Totally true, but this is due to the marketing expenses of AG. I buy AG stuff I can afford. Most of the accessories I craft myself, but I never criticize those who can buy the real thing. And in my opinion, the original post was a little disrespectful when explaining her thoughts on AG.

  39. Kay Mickel at 6:38 am

    At least the products are well-made. The quality of their dolls and products is much better than that of the “knock off” dolls available at Walmart, etc. You especially notice it with their hair. I know many ladies my age who have saved their AG dolls from their childhood to pass down to the next generation and the dolls hold up very well over 25 + years. If you are amazed by high prices for tiny furniture you should check out the crazy world of dollhouse miniatures…. that’s a hobby I tried getting into but found our soon I could not afford! It seems it costs the same amount of money to craft a bicycle whether it is full-sized, a quarter sized, or 1/12 scale.

  40. Holly Young at 12:12 pm

    BAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA I know this is an old post, but I came across it looking for American Girl doll and stuff for my 8 year old grand daughter. I think I peed my pants!!!!

  41. George at 5:03 pm

    wow, you sure have a b***h fit about dolls, if you don’t want to buy her, My american girl, tempt her with a equal quality, lower priced alternative, she won’t know the difference, you think a small girl is going to be a doll snob like many of the doll collectors out there, I get the feeling you don’t like your kids, you complain about how much things cost to raise them and keep them happy. I’m still not happy with the time you posted the picture of yourself burnings your kids drawings because ‘I have too many of them.’ They made it for you with love, and you act like Seth Rollins, when he talked about getting get well cards for his recovery from knee surgery, and said, “I don’t need this s**t, and so, i burned it all to ashes.”

  42. Lynette at 3:51 pm

    American girl dolls used to be awesome. Yes, they were way expensive but they were manufactured by a small American (I think) company. Now they’re made by Mattel. If you’re buying from a mass marketing conglomerate, why wouldn’t you buy the Target or Walmart version for 1/8 the price?

  43. Kathryn Lynne Howell Cites at 8:07 am

    When my daughter was little I made a version of that bed for her doll for Christmas. I found a little side table at a thrift store that I painted and glued a scalloped piece of felt around the top. I sewed a simple colorful little bedspread and pillow. Voila, under $10.

  44. Mary Jo Adair at 3:43 pm

    The biggest problem I have with AMERICAN Girl dolls are they are made in CHINA,!

  45. Sheryl at 5:14 pm

    Cannot believe all of the negative comments on her. I just purchased my first AG doll for my granddaughters birthday and am so excited to receive it. I bought the truly me doll and it looks like her. Hey, I even spent an extra $28 for the accessories and I was happy to do it. I know people who blow money at Casinos and walk out empty handed or spend $1,000 on a phone or better yet buy their kids violent video games. What is the harm in this doll? There are a lot worse things to spend money on and if it’s going to bring a smile to her eye that is all I need. These dolls were never manufactured in the US, it was Germany.

  46. Taunya M Post at 2:42 pm

    I have specifically told my mother in-law not to purchase american dolls for my children. She has bought them for all the cousins and I think it’s crazy. Regardless if I can afford the accessories I don’t think we should be buying this overpriced brand.