Mar 16, 2007

Fake, out!

Dear American Girl Place,

You promise that “lessons of love, friendship, courage, compassion, and tolerance are at the heart of every American Girl story." Please read on, to find out how right you are!

Thank you so much! I was really struggling out here in impoverished brownstone Brooklyn, trying to figure out how to explain to my six-year old daughter about the
importance of labels, and of the superiority of expensive things.

Etta had heard from pals at (public) school that American Girl Dolls were just fabulous, but when we looked at the website and saw the prices, we warned her that if she really really wanted one for Christmas, she wouldn’t be able to get too many fun doll accessories and other stuff. Plus, she has a 3 year old sister, and it would have been really hard to find a way to sit on top of Piper for the next three years to keep her from touching the impeccable and thoughtfully priced American Girl Doll.

Silly Etta, she chose to spend her own money (a mere $29.99!) a few weeks before Christmas last year, on an 18-inch doll at Target. The doll’s name is Gracie, and she came with a ballet outfit and several clever accessories.

You’d think the doll would be extra special for her because she earned every penny she paid for it, and you know what? You’d be right! It was special! She loved it. And she got another one for Christmas (named Robin) and her three year old sister got her very own Target doll too. Named Vicki, I think (but who can keep track of these random names, those dolls didn’t even come with books!). We weren’t so worried about the damage Piper would inflict on her cheap doll. We actually thought her doll was kind of cute (again, silly us!).

Poor thing, Etta thought she was lucky to have all of these great dolls--and she had loads of fun dressing them, carting them around, treating them like special little baby dolls. How on earth were we going to explain to her that her dolls weren’t REAL dolls and didn’t deserve her love and affection?

What were we going to do?!

American Girl Place to the rescue!

When her friend Julie invited her to go to the American Girl Place to have her doll’s hair styled, Etta was thrilled. “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.

She’ll never forget the feeling of waiting in line at the salon. The anticipation, the special feelings welling up in her body. She’d spent extra time in the morning dressing Gracie for the outing. Etta dressed extra-pretty too. Well, sort of thrift-store pretty. Hand-me-down pretty. Not expensive pretty. But she went off with her head held high. Feeling pretty and important and deserving. Courageous little girl.

When she got to the front of the line she was shown a menu of hairstyles to choose from for her doll. Her friend’s mom was surprised that the price had gone up from $10 a doll to $20, but Julie had earned this reward (and, as luck would have it, Etta really needed to learn a lesson), so it would be worth it.

“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).

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!

So, another little girl had a life-changing experience at The American Girl Place!

Hooray for you!

To think, she might have gotten through first grade with her self-confidence intact!

As a former personal shopper at FAO Schwarz (the big one on 5th Avenue!), I know that rules can always be bent, and on-the-spot judgement calls are allowed. In some places, they actually have a ‘customer is always right,’ mentality. Ridiculous!

You’re no fool, American Girl Place! You’re in this to educate little girls. And educate Etta you did. She knows she’s inferior now. Knows her dolls are worthless. Knows her feelings don’t matter. Knows that fake dolls (even fake dolls willing to shell out $20 for an up-do!) won’t be tolerated.

You say that at American Girl, a girl "chooses the friend that’s just right for her--with a story true to the character or one she creates all her own.” I can’t wait to see how Etta adjusts her own self-image to match what she’s learned about her worthless doll!

As promised, her experience at your store gave her "memories she’ll cherish forever." You cared enough to realize that there’s a limit to what I can teach her at home and you rushed in and offered up some good old-fashioned and completely unforgettable public humiliation!

Good job!

Forever grateful,
Etta’s mom.


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Lisa-Marie Cabrelli said...

This story broke my heart. I hope Etta will visit us at and we will ship any order she places for free. We are proud to be "fake" and we are proud that our daughters are learning the value of money and resisting the evils of commercialism and superiority complexes.

Anonymous said...

The American Girl stylist should be ashamed of herself, as should every mother in line who made snide comments to your daughter. I hope that Etta understands that there is NOTHING wrong with her or her dolls, and that the problem lies solely in the need for people with small minds and screwed-up priorities to make themselves feel superior at the expense of a six-year-old.

Anonymous said...

Honestly this is just horrible. If it had been my daughter, and other mothers would have made ugly comments they would have either gotten spit in the face or punched.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that. I would have totally been having a few words with those other "mothers".

Anonymous said...

I am just plain disgusted. Being a "daddy" of a 4 year old - I could not have held my tongue - especially to the other haughty women in line. Good job for holding it together.

Anonymous said...

The word I am looking for is "appalled." I cannot believe that this happened; every aspect of this story blows my mind - the rudeness, the haughty responses, the latent sarcasm. And all directed at a child!

I hope your daughter feels better (I'd assume she does, since she sounds quite bright), and I hope that the American Girl people might eventually come to their senses and issue a genuine and heartfelt apology, as they should.

Anonymous said...

Oh, how horrible for Etta, and for you! This hurts both my grown-up self and the little girl inside who had fake Cabbage Patch dolls with home-made paper and ribbon outfits. I'm so sorry your daughter learned such an ugly and unnecessary lesson. If those snotty mothers were any kind of mothers at all, they would have backed Etta up instead of trashing her in front of their children.

Anonymous said...

i am the daddy of a 2 year old (almost 3) and i am about to cry reading this. my daughter does not have an american girl doll and now she never will. hopefully word gets out (already has, i picked this up on the consumerist)

Anonymous said...

nowhere on the website for the salon is it stated that the doll has to be an AG doll, only that it is your 'child's favorite' doll. i wonder if their refusal to style etta's baby constitutes fraud? the website is deceptive at best.

Anonymous said...

I read this and almost cried. How anyone could treat a little girl this way is beyond me. Karma has a wonderful way of making things right.

I hope that store gets what is coming to them.

Anonymous said...

I am insulted that American Girl did this, That's even less class than Macy's has!!!

Anonymous said...

My heart broke reading this. My favorite doll growing up was a no-name, but it never mattered to me -- kids shouldn't be concerned with the pedigree of their favorite toy. How can someone who works with children and dolls for a living be so thoughtless and cruel?

Anonymous said...

how awful. beautiful child, beautiful doll vs. ugly behavior. thank you for holding it together for you and etta.

is there a gracie legal defense fund? it sounds like a defamation of character case.

3 Column Grid said...

Oh man... Just read this on I'm at work right now and I'm trying not to cry.

This is reprehensible, detestable, and about 800 other horrible things. I can't even imagine the pain your little Etta must have felt and is probably still feeling. I used to work as a camp counsellor, and helping kids to build their self-esteem is one of the greatest things an adult can do. An "adult" who aids in breaking them down deserves to be shot.

Let's hope this spreads (I'll be putting it on my blog) and this "stylist" gets what's coming to her.

Anonymous said...

The whole time I was growing up, I really, really wanted an American Girl doll, but I never was able to save up enough for one.

After reading this, I'm glad they never got my money. Pfft! And if I ever have any daughters, they won't be getting their money, either! Ridiculous.

MamaKBear said...

Unbelievable! Even though Etta's "fake" doll is not as expensive as those from American Girl, $29.99 is in NO way cheap for a 6 yr old!

I can't believe the treatment Etta received, by both the stylist and the Moms in line. If I'd been one of those Moms, I'd have been taking my daughter home after seeing the stylist treat a child that way!! Give Etta a hug for me!

Anonymous said...

How awful. Lucky for you, you've made it onto Consumerist now, and I think you're going to get the apology you so rightfully deserve, along with a freakin' TRUNK full of American Girl dolls.

Anonymous said...

I know it's got to be difficult to explain to a six year old that the problem isn't her, or her hard won doll. My heart goes out to Etta.

Having two girls, a four year old and a three year old, I was having to look at the possibility of having these American Girl Dolls very soon. The lesson I'd rather have them learning is the one you taught her, the value of earning something. I can guarantee you that this line of dolls will never have a place in my home or their grandparents home.

Unknown said...

Wow...that's just so sad. As a girl, I had two American Girl dolls, Molly and Samantha, before they got bought out by Mattel. I was even part of an American Girl fashion show.

This is just so wrong. Who are these people that need to make themselves feel superior to a SIX YEAR OLD? Pathetic. Makes you wonder who the real children were in that situation. So sad that the playground antics were coming from the mothers themselves.

Anonymous said...

This American Girl concept is really silly. The only thing American about it is convincing peple to spend twice as much as they need to on an idential product because it has a cool logo. Don't be one of the drones that buy into this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Etta's already smarter than these people who ganged up (against a six-year-old) to hurt her feelings. And it sounds like she has an awesome mom to help her get through this. I'm just sorry she had to learn the hard way that some people get everything they want without working for it. Tell her she's got a great heart.

Anonymous said...

Well! That real $20 could have bought a real hair-do for Etta's dolly from a REAL hairdresser....

Anonymous said...

When I read this story, I started to cry. Last year, my daughter attended an American Girl Birthday Party where she brought along her Target doll. Our daughter actually had a "real" American Girl doll at the time of the party. However, we had originally bought her the Target doll when I was in school and couldn't afford a "real" doll. She chose to take the Target doll to the party, instead of the American Girl doll, because it was her 1st and favorite doll. Two other, older girls chided her at the party for not having a "real" doll with her. She cried in the car on the way home. As someone who became interested in the dolls because of the books, and the great, inspirational stories, I am very disappointed by the culture the dolls have created among girls. It appears as if the company who sells these dolls and the parents who have purchased them, have forgotten the value the brand was built upon. As a consumer who spent over $400 in the American Girl Place Store in Chicago last week, it will be very difficult for me to ever spend any money in the store again. I am sincerely sorry for what happened to your daughter and hope that you will receive an apology from American Girl directly.

Anonymous said...

OMFG that's hilarious! I can understand the hairdresser acting like a retard, but the women in line... do people really act like that after the get out of middle school???

Bummer for your daughter, but she probably learned a valuable lesson about what sort of people she should avoid.

Anonymous said...

Dear Etta,

Those mean ladies were completely WRONG.

Your doll is BETTER than American Girl dolls. Your doll was meant for a great big girl like you to love. Alll American Girl dolls were meant to was to make a big, rich company even richer.

The mean ladies are like some of the kids in your class calling other kids nasty names. I think that grown-ups should know better, don't you? I bet that you do.

Find something nice for yourself on the Emily Rose website. That is a company that knows that dolls are for loving and playing, not about whose stuff is better.

I bet that Mommy can help you find someone to fix your doll's hair...and it will be NICER than some mean old lady at an American Girl store can do.

Sara's Mom

p.s. Sara doesn't have those dumb dolls either.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Etta - she has a mother who cares. I feel bad for the other little girls in line whose mother's are teaching them to be petty, insensitive and consumer-driven. If I had been there with my daughter, we would have turned on our heels and left (but not before letting them know how we felt). I can even understand if they couldn't be as elaborate in the hairstyle - there may be legitimate differences. But, they could have done something. I usually run the American Girl Fashion Show for my charitable organization - we may need to reconsider.

Anonymous said...

Just posting to let you know the story got posted on (and I am sure Digg soon), so you should get plenty of attention and hopefully a response from that store.

Chemmy said...

Reading this made me want to throw up. That poor little girl.

Anonymous said...

Call 310-252-2000, ask for Ellen Brothers - the Executive Vice president of American Girl Brands (owned by Mattel). Tell them what kind of mean people they have working for them and that this is probably not the kind of image they should want to present.

Anonymous said...

Well, I just logged onto the American Girl website and told them to remove the "American" from their name, as it implies a belief that all men are created equal. It just took a few seconds of my time, so I hope you all do the same. Let this company know how much business they just lost!

PT-LawMom said...

That poor little girl! If I wasn't already appalled at the prices this place charges for the privelege of owning one of their dolls, this definitely convinced me no daughter of mine will ever go near one of their boutiques. I can't believe none of the stylist's coworkers did anything when Etta was crying. :( For shame!

Anonymous said...

This is a hard time to be raising children and I commend you. I don't think I'll ever be able to do it. I hope Etta looks back on this someday and sees that as terrible as the experience was, she was lucky to have the mom she has, and not one of those rich harpies from the line.

Anonymous said...

Up on Digg now, too:

JustKristin said...

Until I see some significant display of remorse and retribution from Mattel, I will be informing AG resellers in my area that the brand is not push-worthy, and leaving them with a good explanation as to why.

Etta, you are a sweet girl with a good mom, and because of this, you will not end up like the harpies in the store, attempting to make up for failed lives and empty marriages by being elitist, looking for affection from plastic people and teaching their daughters just what the future holds for them as well.

Anonymous said...

This makes me sick. I don't have any daughters, but I have two son's. If they had been treated like that, I would have knocked a few heads in.

I will be happy to send my two sons over there to knock around some of the snobby moms. Hey, their big kids.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break. I think the company did the right thing. If you buy a fake doll, what do you think the company is going to do. Good for them. Either spend the money next time on the real deal or if you bought from Target why not just do the dolls hair at home and be true to the dolls own roots

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Some people think I'm elitist for shopping at Target and would roll eyes at spending $29.99 on a doll.

But that's not the point. The point is that the hair stylist was unforgivably rude as were those other moms in line. If AG has some good reason for not styling other doll's hair, it would have been nice to have had it explained in a nicer way.

I generally like AG products. However, I never have liked rude people. It's too bad that this hair stylist was the face of AG; it's just hard to separate the two for me now.

Anonymous said...

When AG comes calling to suck up, as they most certainly will now that this story has been Dugg and Reddit'd, I hope Etta will turn up her nose and refuse the bribes they are sure to offer, because she's a REAL American girl, with a REAL doll, and AG is just not good enough for her.

Anonymous said...

I gave the store a call and asked them about this situation. They response I got was heartening. I was immediately put on hold and put in touch with the store manager- not a customer service rep or operator. She stated that they had another call about it and had forwarded it to corporate. She, also, told me that they were looking for the story (I refered her to the consumerist) and invited Etta's mother to call them so they could make this right.

The reason they don't style other manufacturer's doll's hair is for fear of damaging it. This make sense. However, yelling at a 6 yo does not.

I think Etta's mother should call. They might just make it right... who knows, maybe Etta will get the lesson that sticking up for yourself is a good thing as opposed to learnig to be a victim.

Anonymous said...

Some parts of your story are so uplifting, and I hope you will reinforce to Etta these good things - despite the hideously behaved women in line and the clearly power starved-stylist who did this to your little girl. Here are some great things that stand out:

(1) Your little girl earned her own money, and she is only six years old! How clever and industrious she is!

(2) Etta BOUGHT HER OWN doll! How proud she should be!

That actually makes her doll far more "real" than the other girl's dolls.

(3) Etta has an extra-special relationship with her doll, because she CHOSE her as the doll she would love and protect! Other mothers and other girls don't understand her special bond with Gracie, and they never will.

(4) Gracie STILL needs Etta's love.

Gracie even needs Etta's protection from people who are ignorant. That is what good doll mother's do.

You love Etta even though those people were mean to her. Etta can love her doll, and help her doll understand that sometimes...other people are stupid.

It is OKAY to still love Gracie!

(5) Etta TAUGHT HERSELF TO READ! Hooray for Etta! That means she is a very clever girl.

It is SO much better to be CLEVER than to be RICH!!!!!

(6) Poor stupid, ignorant people in line who don't know any better! Even though Etta is only six, perhaps she is clever enough to understand that those women in line, and the stylist, are not very smart.

(7) Etta seems to be a wonderful and charming little girl. There is a lot to be proud of in how you've raised Etta.

Can I make a suggestion?

You can help her retain her self-esteem and reinforce the solid values you've been teaching her.

Over the next few years, introduce her to the following books (when age appropriate):

I) The Velveteen Rabbit

Age: Now

A stuffed rabbit was not loved because it was too old and worn out. But then, when it was loved anyway, IT BECAME REAL.

This is PERFECT for your daughter, right now.

II) The Little Princess

Age: 7 or 8

A little girl is good, pleasant and honest even as she is treated badly by those around her after her father goes away. She's also smart. She doesn't do anything she feels would be wrong to herself or others, and stays true to her own values.

It's a great story about retaining your integrity, even when those around you have lost there's. (I think there is also a doll in this story.)

III) The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

age: 7 or 8

This is a book about two little girls who use their wits to outsmart all the evil rich people around them and save their own lives. It's scary, but great!

IV) Little House on the Prairie

Age: 8-9

Remember Nelly Olson??? And how Laura was the good one, while Nellie and her mom were conniving, money grubbing freaks. Perfect for teaching Etta she can be her best self, and no one has the right to make her feel bad about it.

V) Nancy Drew Books - either the new or the old series

Age: 9 - 10

Nancy rocks! She solves mysteries and kicks butt. She's a good person. She shows girls that being clever and smart allows you to think beyond those around you and that thinking for yourself is a worthy endeavor and the least you owe yourself.

It sounds like you're a really great mom. It makes me feel horrible to imagine how you felt when you found out what happened. Keep up the good work. Etta may encounter self esteem challenges, but she's lucky to have you there fighting for her.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness...that's heartbreaking. How can people be so horrible!

I'm not surprised, really. just disappointed. That stylist should be ashamed of herself. And those other mothers? WOW. They really must have low self esteem to make themselves feel good by putting down a child.

Anonymous said...

I for one would like to hear the other side. I know certain stores won't even replace a watch battery if they don't carry that brand, because if the watch is damaged they want to be able to replace it. That is not unusual I fear that while the doll mayhave been turned away I am having a hard time believing it went EXACTLY as reported here. As humans we tend to see things not as they are, ask any police officer who's ever taken statements @ a crime one sees or hears the same thing. PS Shame on the poster who called the hairdresser a "retard" Talk about being childish & ignorant!!

Susan Marie said...

I grew up admiring other girls' American Girl dolls. However, my mother was very smart (Master's degree in child development) and very caring, so she never wasted money on dolls. She bought me beautiful dolls, but not American Girl dolls.
Now, I am a mother of a nine-month-old girl. Thank you for sharing this story with us, the parents of the world. Companies that don't know how to treat human beings should not get our money.

Anonymous said...

Disgusting. I hope AG sends over some free product and Etta accepts it to donate to children not nearly as lucky as she is. I'd bet the local women's shelter could put some AG stuff to good use.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry this happened. This is such a horrible story. I'm just really so.. I can't believe this happened. I'm so sorry and I wish there was something I could do.

Anonymous said...

This story made me very sad.

Jennifer said...

I'm kinda curious how you have a word for word account of the other mothers' comments. Was your 6 year old taking notes?

I don't really see anything wrong with a company choosing to service its own products and not others. If you bought a fake Coach purse, do you think a Coach store would embroider your initials on it for you?

I feel bad for your daughter that she had an experience like this, but I don't really agree with your reaction.

Brandon said...

This is absolutely disgusting, and a horrible example of how low our society's mentality has come. Thank you for sharing this with the online community, as it will make people aware of this and will let them know not to go here.

I hope your PageRank shoots through the roof and whenever people Google for "American Girl Place," they find your post first.

Anonymous said...

People these days have no manners and no class. Rationalize all you like about fake Coach bags and whatnot, but this just impoliteness for no good reason whatsoever. And to a 6 year old girl? Come again?

Anonymous said...

I just went through my daughter's book collection and threw them away. I told my daughter at Christmas I wouldn't buy her an American Girl doll. They were ridiculously priced. Neither of my girls will have those books anymore. They can read Little House on the Prairie books if they want, but there is no way I would support that company after reading this garbage. Sorry, but I am afraid I may have popped one of those mother's in their cosmetically altered noses if it had been my daughter. Guess I am not as sophisticated as those NY ladies.

AmyinMotown said...

They don't style other doll's hair for fear of damaging it? Bullshit. It's DOLL HAIR. And honestly, how hard woould it have been to take the$20 and put a bow in Gracie's hair or something to make a six year old happy? Especially when she started crying. I have a two year old girl and that breaks my heart. We're also trying to raise her to be non-materialistic and this is the kind of stuff I fear. So much crap out there now trying to get our kids to buy, buy, buy.

Etta sounds better than 9 million American Girl dolls. Poor baby. Those other moms should be shot, too.

Jennifer said...

Rationalize? Pointing out the obvious fact that not only *can* companies choose to only service their own products but that most do is rationalizing?

Why does nobody here want to call Etta's mom on the fact that she had to know she was sending her daughter into a potentially bad situation. At the very least, she couldn't bother to call and verify that they would service any doll in their proprietary doll store? I certainly would have done that for my daughter.

The feeling I get from this letter is that its unlikely a 6 year old - while she "cried and cried and cried" - was taking a whole lot of notice of what was being said to her. I have to wonder if Etta's mom isn't taking some poetic license.

It's also a little tough to believe that in an entire group of mothers - women who have and love children - not one would have shown even an ounce of sympathy for a distraught 6 year old girl. Let alone have several actually pounce on a bawling child.

My take - Etta's mom feels bad for not being able to protect her daughter from a dissapointment and she's trumping up the story to create hostility where there was none.

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for the kid - really I do. Maybe I'm just one of those worrier moms, but I would have called to make certain they would do it for non-American Girl dolls. After all, she's going to the American Girl store where they sell American Girl dolls (for large sums of money). Maybe Mom should have anticipated that something could have gone wrong and double-checked. I would have.

Anonymous said...

This is so sad and breaks my heart. The other mothers there should be ashamed of themselves. Some values they are teaching their kids. My hats off to you for teaching Etta whats really important. These other mothers and the people at the salon make me sick.

Anonymous said...

I promised my stepdaughter she could get an American Girl doll and one outfit for her birthday this year. She has been into these dolls for a few years now and is very excited about her birthday present. I'm not going to break my promise, but after that, we're done. I'm sorry that Etta and her mother had this bad experience. And regardless of whether or not AG Place is justified in their policies, this case, it's a crappy company policy, and I don't need to give any more money to a store with a crappy company policy.

Anonymous said...

That's terrible....I would have told that sylist exactly where to go....

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

funny in this age of social networking how a poor brand experience can snowball. hope they make amends to you and your daughter.

Anonymous said...

When I was nine, I saved all my money for a year to by an AG doll. We lived on the west coast, far from any hairstyling experience, but I recived a doll hair care kit from a loving aunt. After I washed my AG doll's hair with it, I was silly enough to try to do the same thing with my barbies. The hair clumped up and the only solution was to have a bunch of butch barbies. The AG employee probably should have been more sensitive, but imagine how horrible it would have been to have Etta's favorite doll ruined.

Anonymous said...

This story is a good example of how two wrongs don't make a right.

Etta's Mom: Please, you seem bright, but surely you had the sense to expect that the AG event was for AG dolls. Maybe they were doing it to market to non-AG customers, I don't know, but a reasonable person would have called to make sure. Lastly, your story lacks some detail which, to me, makes me wonder how honest it is versus an emotional reaction to a bad experience.

Hair Stylist: For the love of g*d, you know you are working with children for the day. Couldn't you have been a bit more respectful? OK, I'll buy off on the idea you don't want to service the doll because it isn't an AG product or some fear that you might damage it. I tend to be blunt and insenstive, but even I would have gone with:

My! I've never seen a doll like this. Her hair is so different from what I am used to working with. I don't want to ruin your friend's hair, so how about I just put in this bow to make it a little prettier.

And then NOT take the $20.

AG: You stage an event for children yet [apparently] hire people that are not capable of dealing properly with them. Shame on you! You should have a list of action items coming from this experience, including but not limited to:

1. Make sure events have appropriate staff.
2. Make sure events CLEARLY state what is and is not allowed
3. Damage control. Find this girl, make it right. By right means an apology and letting the family know what you are going to do to make sure this doesn't happen to anybody else.
4. PUBLICALLY respond with the same. Admit your errors, show your remorse, correct the problem, let everyone know how you corrected the problem.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine that her friends mom related what the other mothers said to her.

While i can appreciate the AG might not want to style the hair of other "none-AG" dolls, there is still no excuse for how rude the people were to the little girl or for everyone elses comments.

charmed said...

It's terrible that those people were so heartless towards your daughter. I'll never understand how people can be cruel to children, especially at a place that's designed for them. American Girl has been ridiculously overpriced forever, and only snooty obnoxious girls ever had them when I was a kid. Your Etta is better off without any of those pretentious dolls anyway!

ThatBeeGirl said...

(Read this on The Consumerist)

How awful for your daughter (and you!) to experience! I hope their response is timely and apologetic.
The other mothers in line that "tsk tsk'd" should be ashamed of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this is a lesson that kids get to learn over and over again growing up.

Double A said...

I have two wondergirls, ages 6 and 8. They both have American Girl dolls and accessories, which are very nice, but very expensive. Their mother (my ex) and her family have this have to have the best of everything attitude. What is wrong with Barbie or something similar? The conduct of the stylist was reprehensible to say the least. My oldest daughter would have let her have it and I wouldn't have said a word. I'm questioning why anyone would have brought a third party product in there anyway unless they advertise it that way.

Kat said...

3 of my daughters have AG dolls. In fact they have multiple ones. Their grandmothers love them and buy them mostly. My daughters love their dolls and honestly, all of the Bitty babies are very worn and well-loved.

This story broke my heart and I hope Etta has recovered from it and is feeling proud of her doll. She has every right.

I would encourage you to help your child though stand up for herself by standing up for her. Talk to AG if they approach you - allow them to try to make amends. Why? Because it teaches her that she deserves/derserved better and it teaches her that her mother isn't closed minded.

Anonymous said...

Even though I wouldn't want anything AG in my home after this, I still think AG should send this little girl a doll and TONS of expensive accessories as a way to say they're sorry. Then her REAL doll (the Target one) would have a friend to play with.

Anonymous said...

Was any effort made by Mom to contact the store? My experience, as an uncle of an AG fan, is that they have impeccable Customer Service...but to get it sometimes you have to speak to a manager. It should have been adressed with management by her friend on the spot. Sounds like Mom is reacting to hearsay - I find it hard to believe all the direct quotes from the Mom when there was no mention of the hairstylists name (bet they didn't get that important detail!)-and Mom wasn't even there!
Why bash AG because they are expensive? It's a wholesome product I'm willing to pay for because of the great educational/historical content AND their great customer service.
AG would have better been served by the Mom or her friend working immediately and directly with AG in New York to rectify this together rather than whining about it hereand prolonging the poor experience of her daughter. Besides, if the associate was rude or curt, they could have addressed her performance in the store by now. Be a more responsible parent, Mom, and partner directly for solutions - especially when your little girl's feelings are at stake! I'm sure AG would take your complaint seriously (especially if you can recall the rude associates name)

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking story.

But, thank you for sharing it on the internet. This will make a big impact on the company. It was mentioned on , and has gotten alot of attention. Thank you

Jen said...

I do think they are nice dolls, if horribly overpriced. I would never spend that much on ANY toy.

I am heartbroken for your daughter and I hope the stylist was fired and that you are pursuing this story with the company and the media.

The only tiny excuse I can find for them is that if their dolls really are high quality and they are using heat or something to do the hair they might damage other brands. But that in no way excuses the way she was treated. If that's the case it should be very clearly noted in the store, on the party contracts, in the invitations.

That just sucks.

Sister Brittany said...

Oh how awful. I remember spending hours as a little girl sifting through the American Girl catalogue daydreaming about owning a Felicity doll, but my family could never afford to get me one. I think that I turned out to be a pretty balanced woman! I remember the other girls being very elitist about their AG dolls... I will link to your blog on mine.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous,

Perhaps the mother doesn't know your name, I mean, the stylist's name.

Instead of standing behind AG like a blind automaton and blaming the mother or the child (you suck) perhaps you should send a little empathy their way.

This kind of thing happens all the time, everywhere. It's bound to when you wrap up so much importance on the price of something.

This kind of thing should be brought to light, it's unacceptable for people to behave this way. It's far from whining you pompous ass.

Besides, I doubt AG and their customer service could heal the scar on this poor kid's self-esteem.

Coming here, saying what you're throwing gas on the fire. Good job dumbass.

Anonymous said...

Wholesome product? They sure hire really rude people to promote this 'Wholesome' product. Anyone ever have manners in this snotty business of doll hair stylists?

I suggest you all boycott this place. They will pretty much do everything to get your attention due to the bad press that this will bring up.

20$ buys a lot of better things than a doll haircut in Target. I bet someone here can do a better job than those stylists.

Heidi said...

As someone who has 9 American Girl dolls and who has had nothing but EXCELLENT customer service, I wonder if the stylist simply refused to style the doll's hair because she was afraid of damaging it.

That said, she should have said it in a nicer way. And just brushed it and put a bow on it for free.

I went to American Girl Place Chicago last year and was treated very well. They made a vegetarian platter just for me and even comped a meal when they were out of an item. I had an extremely pleasant experience to say the least.

Please do not penalize American Girl for what the other moms said- or for what one unprofessional stylist did.

Anonymous said...

Hi Horrible mom. I just read this story, and would be glad to send your daughter a soccer ball. Doll are overrated--especially the overpriced American girls. As the father of an 11 year old girl, I'm proud that my girl would rather play sports than dolls. Contact me and I'll have a ball shipped from amazon.

Anonymous said...

I laughed when i read this.


Anonymous said...

Just canceled a decent sized order from AG. I MAY reorder if that "hairstylist" gets canned and AG more than makes up for it with the little girl.
BTW, can you really be uppity if you style doll's hair for a living??

jgarland79 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have no children or dolls for that matter but this is reprehensible. But then again, its not even the "rich culture," that perpetuates these ideas. In the adult world, this is no different than women who expect (or nearly demand) "real" diamonds or a diamond at all for their engagement rings. Sure, many will say the size doesn't matter, and to some it may not, but nearly all women want a "real" diamond. Because a "fake" one (though chemically identical) is somehow less valuable. Those little girls, the ones that buy the cheap dolls or the expensive name brand ones, all get brainwashed later by Debeers. I'm sure all the women deploring this treatment of a child are hypocrtis when is comes to themselves. "Fake" diamonds are like having a cash bar at a wedding, no matter what the reason, people are going to call you cheap behind your back. Cheers ladies!

jgarland79 said...

I just updated the external links on the American Girl page on wikipedia. See here:

Anonymous said...

Mark me down as someone that will think twice before I take my daughter there again. We live in Highland Park, IL not too from Chicago. I have spent about $500 in their store downtown for different items and events for my 4 year old daughter. The entire episode makes my skin crawl and I really don't think I can ever go back there again. This is not the lesson I would want my daughter to take away and had I been in line I would have left with you!

I hope someone from the company sees the damage this has done. It's pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I sent a email to corporate over my disgust of their treatment. I hope they make amends or that this story diminishes business for unexcusable actions.

Anonymous said...

Heidi - As someone who owns 9 absurdly overpriced dolls that were made in China (along with the "fake dolls"), I'm not sure you are qualified to criticise.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as the dad of a newborn girl, I will never, ever spend a dime at American Girl.

This is just reprehensible.

They don't deserve your business!

Anonymous said...

If the stores policy is not to work on non-branded dolls, then so be it. But to harangue and insult a little girl is sub-human. She should be fired and blacklisted.

Perhaps someone should remind that woman that her job is STYLING DOLL HAIR and that is about the most useless thing a person can do on this planet.

Anonymous said...
the stores service email we should all email this link to tell thier employees are pieces of shit

Anonymous said...

my mother and dad were REAL hairstylists and though are both deceased, my mother would have fixed that little dolls hair like it was going to a hairshow. and if she did indeed damage it, she would have bought her another, WHY you ask would she have replaced it? because unlike AG, she knew children were worth EVERYTHING and our worlds most precious gift.
more than a mere commodity to extract funds from, or to build your business on by offering "snotty" dolls for RICH people.

Maurice Reeves said...

I'm the father of a little girl and I'm blown away by what Etta experienced. That's just appalling.

I will never buy one of these dolls for my daughter, and I will make sure that I let the company know this.

Wow...just wow...

Penalt said...

I'm a father of three and normally a pretty laid back kinda guy but this story from Consumerist just made me see red. Words cannot express the anger I feel toward this absolutely heartless operation or the sadness I feel toward litte Etta. Kudos to her parents for doing a severe mischief to the store or its employees.

Etta, you're doll is perfect and real because you love her. Nothing else matters but love.

American Girl: You may have thought a single little girl didn't matter. You are wrong. You have sown a little girls tears, prepare to reap the vengeance of a hundred thousand outraged parents who will NEVER, EVER, HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOUR COMPANY AGAIN.

Penalt said...

I'm a father of three and normally a pretty laid back kinda guy but this story from Consumerist just made me see red. Words cannot express the anger I feel toward this absolutely heartless operation or the sadness I feel toward litte Etta. Kudos to her parents for doing a severe mischief to the store or its employees.

Etta, you're doll is perfect and real because you love her. Nothing else matters but love.

American Girl: You may have thought a single little girl didn't matter. You are wrong. You have sown a little girls tears, prepare to reap the vengeance of a hundred thousand outraged parents who will NEVER, EVER, HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOUR COMPANY AGAIN.

Anonymous said...

This story is too perfectly sad to not get picked up by all the news media next week. But now I am afraid for my own daughter's happiness.
While you adults are organizing a righteous lynching of Mattell, please remember there are also a lot of little girls who can be negatively impacted by your over-reaction. My daughter innocently loves her American Girl dolls. I would hate to see your zeal for justice for Etta, accidentally crush the joy of other children. Outrage is a very seductive and intoxicating emotion. Please act like responsible adults.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous

You were probably one of the selfish idiots standing in line spouting ignorant comments!

Anonymous said...

2007 Real Girl of the Year Award

American Girl is looking for everyday girls who are just as caring and compassionate as our Girl of the Year, Nicki. If your daughter’s brightest moments are achieved when helping others in ways both big and small, we want to hear about it!

Your daughter is heads and shoulders above whoever they pick.
I think you should enter just to get your story seen by someone in the company

Anonymous said...

I've seen AG products and have thought about purchasing them for my children and will not. I do not want to partake in this kind of culture where a doll is a status symbol by the very virtue of its name.

Anonymous said...

Dear Etta,

Your mommy seems really clever and smart, so I'm sure you are too. That's why, when you grow up, you will have a much more important and glamorous job than "doll hair stylist," and you will be able to buy as many American Girl dolls as you want.

But you probably won't want any - because, do you want to know a secret? American Girl dolls are not that great! Do you know why they have hair stylists for them? It's because their hair gets tangled all the time! And also, you can't cuddle with them!

Emma, my favorite doll, is not an American Girl doll, even though I had some of those when I was a little girl. Emma is MUCH more special, just like your Gracie. And Emma is here in my bedroom - but my old American Girl dolls are in a box in the basement.

Etta, you're going to be a great young lady one day, and when that happens, I hope you still have Gracie in your bedroom - she's a keeper!


Anonymous said...

I hate American Doll. I have heard that their dolls leak toxic chemicals from the plastic and some little girls are getting sick but they pay off the parents - this is bound to come out now.

Mamid said...

If AG thinks Etta's doll is "not real" they are delusional.

I will never let my daughters shop there. Ever!

Anonymous said...

PLEASE enter your story at the American Girl 2007 Real Girl of the Year award...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

To everybody talking about how this is a crappy company policy:

Wouldn't you all also be angry if the stylist had styled the doll's hair, and it had, say, fallen out as a result? AG doesn't know how these dolls are made, so they can't be certain that they won't damage the dolls by styling them. It's not a crappy company policy.

To the stylist:

I understand that you may have been having a bad day, but you are being paid partly to be nice to children. Plus, handling this incident the way you did was just plain mean. No cookies for you.

To the author of the original post:

You don't mention going to the management. Personally, I think you should have- what if the stylist was mistaken, for instance? Even if she wasn't, they should have been able to explain the reason for their policy and possibly comfort your daughter in the process.

Erin M said...

we have 2 of these "real" dolls sitting in the closet - they were gasp - hand me downs from my little sister to my daughters. Guess what? they cant play with them because they are ridiculously expensive and if they destroy them my sister will cry.. now i feel like giving them to my dogs to bury in the back yard.

I wish i was there to beat down every single one of those vicious customers that felt the need to make it a more horrible and embarrassing experience. Shame on every one of those rotten women

Anonymous said...

I very much feel for Etta, and hope she realizes that worth comes not from the money one has or the objects one is able to buy, but from one's ability to love, to be kind, and to respect the beauty in life. Material possessions come and go, but quality of heart will never desert you.

To all those who left comments such as -"You wouldn't expect Coach to embroider a fake purse", etc..You are missing the point. Adults choose "fake" name brands as a status symbol, to appear more affluent than they are. (The way people buy name brands like LV, Coach, etc.. simply because they want people to know they have money)--From the description of how the mothers in the AG store behaved they fall in that category.

Etta did not choose her doll in order to adhere to any falsely set standard of affluence. She chose her doll because it was special to her. She earned her money, chose her doll, and that doll was greatly loved.

What the stylist did was intolerable. Anyone can braid a doll's hair and put in a few ribbons without damaging the doll. Anyone who can't should be prevented from having any job that requires the use of their hands. Furthermore, it is not the stylist's place or that of the other mothers to chide or deride that child.

One rude blogger asked if the daughter was "taking notes", and implied the mother was lying. Any child who is treated in such a way will for a long time remember word for word what people say at the time. Children have remarkable memories for what adults say in normal situations. (We've all encountered situations where a little one accurately repeats a statement made by a parent at an inopportune or embarassing time)

For those mothers of children with American Girl dolls- Your daughter could probably care less about Mattel or the AG company. Your daughter's concern is HER doll. Once it was taken out of the store, it ceased to be American Girl ---, it became Cindy, Mandy, etc...

Above all, it is important to do what is right.

My mother's favorite doll was a large baby doll that my grandfather won in a crane game. That doll was loved by me as well as all my cousins, and is now being loved by by nieces and nephews although she is much worn.

Anonymous said...

I always say I am going to write a letter when I see a story like this, but never do. This one got me so fired up, I just sent an e-mail to Amercian Girl. That "stylist", and I use that term loosely, should be ashamed of herself. Please tell Etta that there are people out here reading her story that care and we are making our voices heard. I would say they should give her a free doll, but who wants that American Girl trash anyway! I can say for sure that my daughter will never get an American Girl doll from her Dad.

Anonymous said...

PS(I'm the one who said "Wouldn't you all also be angry if the stylist had styled the doll's hair, and it had, say, fallen out as a result?", etc)-

I implore the parents on here to not go and destroy their children's American Girl products because of this incident- that's just plain cruel. I can't think any better of someone who'd throw away things their children already had because they don't like the company than I can think of that stylist. What is that supposed to accomplish? It's going to do absolutely nothing but make your child unhappy and perhaps give you a bit of satisfaction (Even though throwing away things you've already spent money on is obviously not going to hurt the company in the slightest).

By the way, for what it's worth, unless Etta's mother told her what the women in line were saying, I highly doubt she even heard. Children who are 'crying and crying and crying' tend to be oblivious to things like that, I've found. Not that this makes what they said any more acceptable (Assuming it wasn't exaggerated), but I'm just throwing that out.

Anonymous said...

i can understand how this would be upsetting. however, manufacturers tend to promote their own 'boutique' (brands and people pay extra money for them) because there's an exclusivity and sense of worth (or self-importance). often times there are even actual qualitative differences.

if you brought your ford to a ferrari mechanic you'd get the same reaction. if you brought your mutt to a shitzu dog show you'd be received the same way.

maybe the website was misleading...but did anyone else bring a cheap knock-off doll to the american girl promotion?

Anonymous said...

"While you adults are organizing a righteous lynching of Mattell, please remember there are also a lot of little girls who can be negatively impacted by your over-reaction. My daughter innocently loves her American Girl dolls. I would hate to see your zeal for justice for Etta, accidentally crush the joy of other children. Outrage is a very seductive and intoxicating emotion. Please act like responsible adults."

Well said. Let's remember that they are, afterall, just dolls to the kids. There are children out there who think themselves of less worth because they can't afford even the "fake" $29.99 doll. It's not about the doll. It's about the grown-up behaving badly. And I've had grown-ups behave badly and give me rotten customer service in Wal-Mart, Target, and the Dollar Store. There is enough snotty, snooty, and crappy behavior to go around in every socio-economic level. Been to a Wal-Mart lately and watch how many parents hit their kids? The wealthy folk don't have the corner on that market by a loooonnnngg shot. If I were going to not patronize a store just because I had one bad customer service at some point or because some of their clientel behaved badly, I'd have nowhere to shop but my corner grocery store.

Anonymous said...

screenshots or it didnt happen

Anonymous said...


As a 27 year old man planning for fatherhood in the near future I suddenly realize that I'm way out of touch.

I still can't quite wrap my head around the concept of a "fake doll". I have to put in quotes because it feels so absurd.

Be glad this lesson happened so early for your daughter. I'd imagine most non-comforming or worse yet, poor people don't realize how many people judge and qualify other human beings by their brand value until Junior High School.

Anonymous said...

That is just terrible. How could anyone do that to a kid? I cannot believe what snobs that women and those mothers were.

Tell Etta that what makes a doll real is how much it's loved, not how much it costs. And she can proudly say she earned the doll herself, rather than just have it handed to her.

Anonymous said...

"I implore the parents on here to not go and destroy their children's American Girl products because of this incident- that's just plain cruel. I can't think any better of someone who'd throw away things their children already had because they don't like the company than I can think of that stylist. What is that supposed to accomplish? It's going to do absolutely nothing but make your child unhappy and perhaps give you a bit of satisfaction (Even though throwing away things you've already spent money on is obviously not going to hurt the company in the slightest)."

Yes. Please please people. Throwing away your children's toys and books to prove a point is just as cruel if not worse than what that stylist did. Don't give that one woman's one bad deed so much power. Good lord.

Anonymous said...

This broke my heart!!! I cannot believe grown women (And MOTHERS) acted like that! My husband told me about this blog entry and I just had to read it for myself. (he was just as upset as I was!)
I have a 4 year old daughter and she hasn't discovered American Girl dolls yet, But she will NOT have one now! I'll be buying from "emily rose customer care" for her generosity!

I create custom Boutique clothing for girlie girls, and I would be so glad to send Etta a free twirly skirt. My DD Loves them! Just visit my website and click "contact us" to the left and let me know her favorite color combos and the size she needs!


Anonymous said...

To Jennifer, Heidi, and others showing us the other side of the story, thank you. From what I've seen, the American Girl is only supposed to style American Girl dolls because the hair is different. The "Barbie" anecdote seemed to confirm this.

To everyone finding it easy to hate and who are atacking American Girl, owners of American Girl Dolls, customers of the salon (not the "rude" ones; just the normal ones), people with money and/or people who live in NY's Upper East Side: OK, I see your point a bit. THe hair stylist was pretty insensitive to the girl (assuming Etta's Mom got everything right) and the mopthers were misbehaving (again, assuming everything was reported accurately, etc. However, be careful you don't turn into elitists, too. Not that you are, but one doesn't need money to be a snob or elitist. One is also an elitist of they automatically assume they're better than those with money. Just keep that in mind.

Thank you for the time you sacrificed in order to read this comment. It is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I find this whole story a little hard to swallow. I think the "townspeople" are forming the mob to storm the castle a little quick. I's not even too sure "Etta" is real. So far it seems abit far fetched. And the fact that so many people are able to get son inscenced about an isolated incidence (if in fact this occured) It would be nice to see this outrage @ the underfunding of public schools, that we don't have determinate sentancing, that pedaphiles and murders are allowed rights their victems will never have.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god. This is insane. Those other moms should be slapped, or something equally painful that doesn't teach violence.

I had no idea those stupid dolls had a background of "inspirational" stories attached to them.

Screw it, they should all be slapped. This is disgusting.

I hope Etta learns from this that in life some people are mean, and that what mean people say is not always correct, and certainly not worth listening to.

American Doll sucks and if I ever have a daughter, or a son who likes dolls, they will never get one red cent of my money.

Just disgusting.

Anonymous said...


"While you adults are organizing a righteous lynching of Mattell, please remember there are also a lot of little girls who can be negatively impacted by your over-reaction. My daughter innocently loves her American Girl dolls. I would hate to see your zeal for justice for Etta, accidentally crush the joy of other children."

How can this possibly be bad?

I think I know...

Little girls don't understand or give a damn about branding without mommy's influence.

These AG dolls aren't marketed to the girls, they're marketed to the mommies. Mommies who project themselves onto their daughters.

A media backlash would be bad because it would hurt mommy to see her Pre-K give up AG doll on principle through that amazing innocent clarity of child.

As a result, mommy with her talent for projection will then project her own shame (at being in at least one way, less mature than her child) into anger...Anger at the people who share her daughter's clarity.


Anonymous said...

"I find this whole story a little hard to swallow. I think the "townspeople" are forming the mob to storm the castle a little quick. I's not even too sure "Etta" is real. So far it seems abit far fetched. And the fact that so many people are able to get son inscenced about an isolated incidence (if in fact this occured) It would be nice to see this outrage @ the underfunding of public schools, that we don't have determinate sentancing, that pedaphiles and murders are allowed rights their victems will never have."

The world is a lot bigger than this blog, lighten up.

Just think how much time and energy YOU wasted by reading and replying to this silly, possibly fake story about a doll when you could have been fighting against real injustice, pedophiles and muderers.

Better get going.

dabydeen said...

Snobbery in the dollhouse? Wow! Consumerism has taken us to a new low. Affulence and decadence is such a wonderful combination. Reading the comments such as the one from Anonymous (March 23, 2007 9:42 PM) makes me want to puke.

Anonymous said...

"These AG dolls aren't marketed to the girls, they're marketed to the mommies."

Who are we kidding? Of course products are marketed to children. I haven't heard of half the kids crap out there until my kids saw it on commercial televsion at one of their friends' houses or heard about it from other kids at school.

If American Girl wasn't so big a deal to this mom and little girl, then why such a big deal over buying the fake to begin with? You can buy even less expensive dolls. Heck, you can MAKE your own dolls with a bit of fabric, needle and thread and the kids can love them just as much. There are plenty of gently-loved used dolls out there every Saturday during yard-sale season. And where I come from Target is just as much a brand name as American Girl or Mattel or Barbie or Waldorf.

It's just a doll, no matter the cost or name brand. And just a doll who needed a $20 hairstyle. Puh. Lease. Any lessons about "real" and "fake" and value and ethically spending money were blown for me right there. $20!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I can understand them not servicing a doll that is not their brand for fear of damaging it. But how hard would it be for the stylist to say "I'm sorry honey, I can't do your dolls hair because I might hurt her and I don't want to do that. She's a pretty doll though" HOLY CRAP see how easy that was?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I can understand them not servicing a doll that is not their brand for fear of damaging it. But how hard would it be for the stylist to say "I'm sorry honey, I can't do your dolls hair because I might hurt her and I don't want to do that. She's a pretty doll though" HOLY CRAP see how easy that was?

March 23, 2007 9:54 PM
For all we know this is exactly what she did say. The mother wasn't even there!! She didn't hear what was said. It's sad I went back & read a couple of the blogs earlier posts, she talks about being bored by her kids & ignoring them . And in this supposed incidence she wasn't with the child. I tend to want to hear the other side of this. I doubt we heard the WHOLE truth!

Anonymous said...

Something I find rather ironic about the whole thing is that American Girl was the title of the magazine for Girl Scouts of America more than 40 years ago.

How is this kind of behavior going to teach our daughters any kind of worthy lesson? It doesn't teach value. It doesn't teach kindness. It most certainly doesn't even teach good manners, which seem to be in very short supply these days.

Anonymous said...

This is a perfect example of how so many companies have no clue when it comes to customer service. Etta was a customer, and was treated most shabbily, as if she didn't belong in the establishment. She was ridiculed, humiliated, and worst of all, sent away without the service she came for.

A smart stylist not only would have performed the style, but would have taken note that Gracie was not an actual, factual "American Girl" doll, and through creative (read: sneaky) conversation with Etta, would determine that cost was the issue. A quick call to her manager would procure a coupon for 20% off on any AM doll of her choice. (A guess -- I used to work at a retail store, and could give 10% off on anything on my own initiative, calling the item "damaged". More required a manager.)

This story is enough of a tear jerker that any manager would be an idiot if he didn't see the opportunity, not just to get the $20 for a style, but another price for a new doll. Etta was a golden opportunity -- the retail equivalent of the kitten with a hurt paw -- and these idiots kicked her instead of cuddling her! All it would have taken was a little incentive, a coupon, a little good treatment, and Etta and her Mom would not only have been happy with Gracie's hairstyle, but perhaps happy AM customers for life.

But no...they couldn't just be unhelpful. They had to be unhelpful snobs. Now Etta's Mom wouldn't touch an AM product while wearing a space-suit.

I feel for Etta -- she was treated horribly. I think the company deserves anything that comes to it for being so galactically stupid as to allow such a lapse of customer service to occur. The customer isn't always right...but the customer is always the one paying the bills. And THAT means you look for ways to make the situation right -- every time -- or someone else will.

k.barrick said...

Second and Third everyone's comments about this is horrible.

I got the American Girl (AG makes me think Alberto Gonzalez) dolls right around when they first came out. My grandmother "bought" (she was elderly so I'm pretty sure my mom organized the "purchase") Kirsten for me.

I loved the books (my mom's family is 100% swedish so her books connected on many levels), used the St. Lucia costume-kids version to dress up for St. Lucia day, named my first cat (and eventually the second cat) after Kirsten's Missy.

I got Samantha and Molly as well (Molly esp. because my mom was growing up around Molly's time period). I loved these dolls so much and learned so much from them and the other products surrounding them.

I still think that the dolls are useful and fun. Living in Chicago, I went to the American Girl store. It was quite impressive but I also realized that only the original dolls (or all the historical dolls) had any value to them. The top two floors full of "modern day" clothing and the salons... silly and frivolous.

If and when I have a child, I'll most likely buy her Kirsten. The other newer stuff... nah. I like what one person said in a comment... as soon as the doll leaves the store it's not an American Girl doll anymore. It's the child's.

And yeah... I find myself defending the dolls a lil' bit more than I'd like. Wish the company hadn't become retarded and conivingly enterprising.

Unknown said...

This makes me sick to my stomach. I cannot believe how rude these people were to Etta. I'll tell you one thing, when my daughter is old enough she won't be getting an American Girl doll.

Anonymous said...

I just placed a substantial order with American Girl and am considering calling back and placing another!! You people are nuts!!

Anonymous said...

Confronted with a similar situation, I would find it nearly impossible not to point out to this "stylist," who refused to do my child's doll's hair, that she was, in fact, doing dolls' hair!! It's unfathomable to me that anyone would make an issue out of where the doll came from! But particularly a doll hair stylist!

Jenna Taylor said...

Growing up, my daughter was not one of the kids with money. To say we had very little would be putting it mildly. She did get an AG doll, though. She wanted one SO badly, so her father and I saved for months. She got that doll for Christmas, and she was SO happy. She loved and adored that doll for years.

I believe this story. The reason I do is because American Girl put on a tea party at the local country club. My daughter wanted to go, begged to go, and nearly exploded with happiness when I said yes. We went, and honestly, the women there made me ill. I was there to have fun with my daughter. We dressed up and she insisted on wearing an Easter bonnet... and she and I had fun. But the obnoxiousness of the women in that room stuck with me for quite awhile. The AG Crowd are elitists.

My daughter is 17 now, and even though she may have a good Coach collection, and doesn't feel 'less than' when it comes to money any longer - she still took time to donate her AG Doll and clothing to a child she happened to know of who wouldn’t be able to get one of her own.

Poor little Etta. I echo the 'broken heart' sentiments. It’s simply unthinkable for someone to treat a child that way.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Not all owners of AG dolls are elitist. Any more than everyone who shops at Wal Mart is trash. The snobs versus the salt of the earth is just convenient stereotyping for people with their own wannabe insecurities.

Instead of taking in part in something like an Amerian Girl brand party, why not have your own doll tea party and not be so exclusionary? Invite some little girls from across the tracks. No matter where anyone lives, there's always someone who lives even farther across the tracks. It's easy to pick on AG. It's harder to be the change you want to see.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Not all owners of AG dolls are elitist. Any more than everyone who shops at Wal Mart is trash. The snobs versus the salt of the earth is just convenient stereotyping for people with their own wannabe insecurities.

Instead of taking in part in something like an Amerian Girl brand party, why not have your own doll tea party and not be so exclusionary? Invite some little girls from across the tracks. No matter where anyone lives, there's always someone who lives even farther across the tracks. It's easy to pick on AG. It's harder to be the change you want to see.

March 23, 2007 10:33 PM
Well said. About the first sensble post I've read regarding this. I'm so appalled @ the "Adults" calling names, etc. You're no better than the stylist, If this actually occured.

Anonymous said...

Nordstrom's will tailor clothes, even if you don't purchase your clothes there. You have to pay for it, but they will accept clothes from other merchandisers. I don't understand why this establishment would refuse business b/c the doll was a different brand. . . I always thought American Dolls were scary looking anyway. (I also don't think it is appropriate to use the term "retard".)

Anonymous said...

I'm not familiar with Nordstom's tailoring regulations...but our local department store "leases out " the tailoring...not actually owned by the perhaps that would have something to do with it. Our society has become so sue happy...I understand companies erring on the side of caution. Especially we a young girls beloved doll. I agree though that I'm not 100% comfortable that this took place as described.

Stephanie said...

After my initial shock, disgust and heartbreak, I thought of this: The other girls in line all had pretty much the same doll. Sure they had different hair, eyes, clothes etc. but the were the same. The only really special, individual doll in the WHOLE place was Gracie. I'd rather be one of a kind than one of the crowd and I hope Gracie agrees ;)

I hope your little girl is feeling better. It's hard to explain that level of meanness to anyone, much less a child.

Anonymous said...

This 6 year old will never forget this, and I sincerely hope that she goes on to great success in her future life at the expense of these neuveaux riches bigots. An absolute disgrace.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

My heart aches for your poor little girl. I have emailed AG and told them I am appalled that their representative would be so cruel to a child, and that they can expect no business from me or many of the parents who were linked to your blog from our parenting board.

I would like to suggest a storybook that might bring some small comfort to Etta: "The Best Loved Doll" by Rebecca Caudill.

Consists of... said...

Dear Etta,
You are so big and smart. You learned to read by yourself?! I have 4 little girls that always wanted an American girl doll, but just like you they would have to give up all their presents for Christmas and birthday to get just one for the four of them to share. They decided that one doll for all four to share wasn't really worth it, just like you thought it was too much.
My daughter Danilla bought a baby from her own money she earned by raising chickens. My other daughter Precious bought a Barbie from the money she got for her birthday. Santa brought Lucy a little bitty baby and Aukxsona a baby that drinks a bottle. They don't have "real" dolls either. You see, they are smart like you...they know those "real" dolls aren't worth so much money they couldn't each have a doll. They also know that those dolls are just the same as all the dolls they got or bought on their own. The only difference is the name. So don't worry Etta, lots of little girls have dolls that aren't "real" according to the hair stylist. Just because the one lady said it wasn't real, doesn't make her right.
If you ask any of my little girls if their dolls were "real" they would say YES! They love their dolls because they are special to them. The hair stylist was too old to see how special your baby was to you. Only another little girl with a special doll like yours could understand. So Etta, remember your doll IS real. More real because you saved the money to pick her all by yourself. Also, remember that lots of little girls have real dolls just like you all over America...and these are what REAL American dolls are...dolls for REAL American children that are special just like you. Bless you Dody

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

I'm not getting this. Why do people need to put down the other little girl's beloved dolls to make "Gracie" and Etta feel better? These are also innocent children with their very special dolls. Why this "my doll is better than yours because it's more fake or more real or expensive or not as hoity-toity or made with organic whole-grain flax or whatever"?

This is so typical of our society: Build ourselves up by putting others down. Not playing nice, people. And not a way to teach anyone self-worth. "I'm bettter because you're worse."

Anonymous said...

I have never been so enraged over a children's doll before. This is absolutely disgusting...

I can't even imagine an adult doing such a thing to an innocent child like that. It's one thing if that the stores policy strictly enforces rules against (I refuse to say "Fake") dolls other than American Girl, but it's another thing for her to literally throw it back in your daughters face and ruin something she cherished. I am truly disgusted, and simply cannot believe people like that can live with themselves.

I can only say that I have great respect for you to leave those !@#$* mothers standing.

Anonymous said...

Dear Etta
I do not know you but I am very proud of you! Using your own money for a special doll. YOur doll is " real " because you love her. This should not have happened to you or any other little girl. You hold your head high and go on loving your doll.
To Etta's mom
You must be very proud of your daughter, how happy the both of you must have been at Target when she paid for her special doll all by herself. I do not know how to help her broken heart but I think you will find a way.
How sad are world is these days. Give your daughters an extra hug for all of us who do not know her but are proud of her.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry to read about your Etta's experience at the American Girl Place, and I wish there were some sort of goodies I could send her like the ones some of the retailers have been offering. I will be e-mailing the company, though, as a one-time customer appalled at their lack of appropriate customer service.

I do, however, encourage Etta to stay strong and tap into her creativity when playing dolls. Since my family couldn't afford all the expensive outfits and accessories for my Molly doll (which I was VERY lucky to have at all) my mother instead taught me to sew, and together we made her dresses and pajamas. I also used to make Molly food and accessories out of clay. I'm in college now, but I still enjoy making doll outfits and designing my own dolls. Right now I'm making a lot of Greek mythology characters out of Barbies, but later this year one of my friends and I have plans to make Beth and Amy from Little Women out of some of Gracie's cousins.

I feel the American Girl company, especially since it got bought out by Mattel, has placed less and less of an emphasis on history and creativity over time. In Meet Samantha, the first American Girl book I ever read, Samantha gives up her nice, new doll to her friend Nellie, a disadvantaged girl who works as a maid for Samantha's neighbors. If Mattel is going to market these dolls based on the values present in the books, they should perhaps read the books first.

Lyndsay said...

Etta, you and Gracie are beautiful and you know that is the truth. Those ladies who told you that Gracie wasn't good enough only like to have money. They don't know how you feel, because you love Gracie. Now, you saved up for Gracie and were you proud of yourself when you had enough money to buy her at the store? Do you remember how you felt when you walked out of the store with her in the bag, all yours?

That's what makes you and Gracie beautiful. Nobody else should care where you bought her or about anything else. All that matters is how much love you have in your heart for Gracie, and the things that you two do together.

Please don't let some mean old ladies who don't know how to be friends take away your love for Gracie. You worked hard to get her and you know what? YOU know what she likes best, not someone at a store who can't see how pretty Gracie can be! You and mom are the ones who know the best way to fix Gracie's hair because you will use LOVE, and that's what makes you look more beautiful than anything Etta!

Have you read the Velveteen Rabbit? You made Gracie real too, sweetie, and only you know how real she is.

Anonymous said...

I hope a bunch of irate Moms (preferably accompanied by Target and other "not real" dolls) go to AG Place tomorrow and let them know they cannot treat people this way. AG owes Etta big time and I hope they will make this right with her, but even if they do offer Etta a doll and a bunch of clothing (as well they should!) I hope Gracie will continue to be Etta's favorite.

AG if you are reading this, I think you need to extend a special invitation to Etta and her doll Gracie to spend a day at AG place and see the show and have the lunch and whole works - on your dime! You need to make this right!

Consists of... said...

I said the dolls were not real American dolls because fewer than a quarter of the population could afford such dolls and thus do not represent American children as a whole like Target or Wal Mart dolls do which fully 85 percent of the population could afford. It is statistics maam... nothing against the children...just statistics.

Anonymous said...

Well once again the power of the media rules. This will cost them some business. I think a formal apology is the least they can do.

Anonymous said...

To the folks who keep saying things like "don't throw away your kids' AG toys" and "stop ganging up on AG," you need to get a grip.

Customers vote with their pocketbooks.

There is a lesson to be learned here - and AG needs to learn it.

In the current age of economic outsourcing and off-shore production, the quality of most products is pretty comparable. It's the BRAND that makes the difference. It's the BRAND that makes the prices vary.

I can choose to buy any of a hundred brands of great tasting coffee - but I will choose the brand that is also fair trade harvested.

If I'm going to buy a doll made in china - btw, the AG doll and the Target doll are both made in china - I'll choose the brand of made-in-china-doll that doesn't treat its customers like crap, thankyouverymuch.

If you care sooooo much about all those kids out there that you don't even know having the chance to love their AG dolls - you should be out there buying AG dolls for every kid in the country! Why aren't you trying to get the right to own an AG doll added to the constitution?

Seriously people, it's ludicrous that you would actually bother to implore people on a message board to go easy on AG.

I guess you'll just have to buy more AG stuff to make up for the business they are going to lose from this point forward.

There are plenty of places I can spend my money, and my kids will be a LOT happier with dolls that come from a company with a track record of upstanding behavior and GOOD SOLID CUSTOMER SERVICE.

And you know what? I'm going to tell my kids WHY we don't buy AG dolls. Hope my kids don't happen to mention that to your kids...oh - wait, that's what you're worried about, isn't it.

Ah, well it's all clear now, I see.

Stop telling me to support a company that obviously doesn't bother to train its employees to handle a situation that I'm sure has come up before.

And if you've got a "hunch" the story on this blog isn't 100% accurate - so what? It's a BLOG, not the New York Times.

The gist is they treated a little kid like crap, and they are a TOY company.

That's enough for me to know that I should take my business somewhere else.

Sorry if that makes you feel threatened for some reason.

Anonymous said...

The Target dolls that I see - the Our Generation dolls listed right now - are all white dolls. Hardly representative of most American children. At least American Girl has diversity going for it beyond just white, whiter and whitest.

And I'm sorry, but if you think that 85% of American children can afford $29.99 for one doll, you need to get out more. Because not the kids I hang around with and not many of the kids in our school district. And this family owns three of them? $90 on dolls is exorbitant no matter how you slice it when there are kids in our schools who don't have books or pencils.

39% of children in the US live in low income families.

18% live in poor families.

33% of African American children under the age of 18 live in poverty.

For many kids I work with, spending $29.99 on one doll would be all they get for Christmas and their birthday and Easter combined. So again, not all of America can afford the fake dolls. Not 85% by a long shot.

Just wait until the children in the Brazilian favelas hear what we're paying for Target dolls and hear us complaining about our children's tender self esteem being crushed during a consumer experience. Poor, poor us.

Anonymous said...

Oh please.

An employee at Target once spit on my friend's kid's head.

Don't shop at Target anymore.

A Wal Mart employee once called another firend a bitch in front of her kids

Don't shop at Wal Mart anymore.

The fair trade coffee we buy is shippped thousands of miles at an environmental cost of thousands of gallons of oil all so we can feel good about helping out some farmer in Central America.

If you think there isn't a company out there who isn't raping its customers, plundering the earth's resources, and treating employees like crap at one time or another, I have a bridge to sell you.

AG's customer service track record has been pretty darn good as far as I've read about previously. I'd say it's just as likely a case of 6yo dramatics and mom's insecurities as anything else.

b0b0b0b said...

Hi folks, I don't think this story is so touching because it has to do with money or consumerism or corporations. It's about jerks being mean to a little kid. F them.

Anonymous said...

To the people who keep saying that they doubt what the other mothers said..

Etta may not remember what they said if she was upset, however - Etta's mom states quite clearly that Etta was with her friends mom.

I'm quite sure that her friends Mom heard and remembered all the nasty comments and passed them on to Ettas mom.

Another point to make. Any retailer will tell their staff that they represent the company they work for at all times. In the eyes of the public and customers of AG, that one idiot stylist may as well be the whole Company.

By doing what she did, that stylist has damaged her employers reputation by failing to do her job and represent what that company is about - Pleasing children with Toys that they love.

So what if the doll was a fake, she should have smiled, told Etta what a lovely doll it was and then braided its hair and put a ribbon in it.

Anonymous said...

I think our whole country needs to get both sides of a story before they start on their war path. The worst things that have happened to me in my personal life have happened because people went around running their mouths instead of talking to ME, the person it involved. Given a chance, most times, we humans can learn a lot from putting our hostilities on hold while we TRY to set an example for our children and COMMUNICATE. I am sure there would have been a way to work this out if someone wasn't waiting to be offended. How can we expect our kids to work out disagreements or express their hurt and try to make amends or offer insight if they don't see it modeled. Some terrible things in history (much worse than commercialism or just ONE child's feelings) have been assaulted because people don't give each other a chance. In the least, don't hold the company responsible for an employee's actions until the company backs up her nasty behavior. Our world would be much better for our children, dolls or no dolls, if all of us tried a little harder to give each other a chance. My opinion on the price of AG dolls isn't even relevant here, like it or not, if this is a true, unadulterated story, it is about the lack of understanding and compassion on a stylist's part, backed up by ALL the other moms in line, AND the readiness of all many to take offense. All the bloggers who threaten and insult others are not much better than the original offenders. My first response was pure sadness for Etta, my second was disgust at the willingness of the public to incriminate and detest others with zero representation from the other side. I am not defending the gross error on the part of the stylist, but everyone should step back and ask for accountability and explanation. Would you want your business slandered because you had an employe who mistreated a customer? Given the same situation, I would have told my daughter sometimes there are rules that we have to follow, even if they don't make sense. I would have hugged her and told her we would have our own hairstyling party. I wouldn't further encourage the stylist, walked away with my head held high. I then would have gone directly to the manager or CS dept and explained what just took place. I would be willing to bet that even if that is their policy, they would have required an apology right then from the stylist and done something else to make Etta feel welcome there. If not, THEN I would have created a stir for AG, not before. THis is a great example of how rumors begin wars.

Anonymous said...

I've just emailed American Girl suggesting that if they do not correct the situation properly with Etta, that I will pay for a press release to be distributed by PR Newswire (goes to all the major news media and wire services) about the situation.

Assuming that the front line customer service person reading the email actually bounces it up to someone who matters, that, along with the other emails and calls already sent, will probably do the job.

This is appalling. Not only does the "stylist" need to be fired or dramatically retrained, the store manager needs some serious help, because even having an employee that would perform that poorly in an environment where children are being served reflects badly on the manager as well as the employees.

Consists of... said...

I didn't say 85 % of kids could afford a 29.99 dollar doll, I said 85% of kids could afford a doll from Target or Walmart. Also, race was not even brought up. So if you quote me, please do so properly and don't throw straw man arguments. The original blog was about snobbery, money, and the price of it all. Furthermore, if white dolls didn't sell there wouldn't be so many row after row if what you say is even true. If a store saw only dark skinned dolls selling they would, by law, have to stock it. Because a companies only legal requirement to exist is to make profit, and there by we would have only darker hued babies. That is the law of economics.
Please get an education for heaven's sake and stop attacking the messenger.

Anonymous said...


How about we forget about the stupid dolls (ALL of them) and turn our children towards something with a little bit less gender-bias? A nice, big stuffed animal can encourage a love of animals/nature instead of creating this negative, elitist attitude that is begotten from the very act of the purchase: "My doll is superior because it HAS A BRAND NAME and it cost $100 and IT BELONGS HERE {at the AG Place}!" at six becomes "I'm worthy only if I have money to afford {for example, those hideously overpriced Coach bags that some of you lovelies have brought up in the above}! Anything less is unacceptable!" at sixteen. Stuffed animals, particularly cool ones, foster a truly human-hierarchy-free level of love and compassion.

People gave me dolls when I was young, but I hated them. I just didn't like dolls. I didn't like the idea of some inanimate--but humanoid--object with lifelike looking eyes staring at me. It gave me the creeps.

But a nice, fat, fluffy stuffed animal/stuffed plushie? Especially in my house, where my parents were allergic to real animals, they were more than welcome to fill up my room. I adored them, and find myself desperately wishing that back when I was young they'd have the things that kids have available to them today (animals, aliens, cute's kid has such a wealth of things to choose from).

Anyway. If I were that kid and I received a doll (or two) from the company who did that to me, I would name the doll after the wenchbag who made me cry and then cut off all of her hair. Then take her back to the AG salon and ask the same hairstylist if she can fix herself.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, I'm reading this from the other side of the world from you, but still feel the hurt.

I can believe some mothers acting like the ones in line did, too. Can you imagine what they're teaching their kids at home, makes me shudder.

I got curious and read the website of AG. We don't have it here of course - and I feel extremey grateful for that after reading this and looking at the pompous industry it has created.

Anonymous said...

How awful for you and your daughter. I hope all the comments left on your blog reaffirm your faith in humanity. I just wish I had the wisdom to suggest something that would help your little girl forget the whole ugly mess ever happened.

Anonymous said...

dude i dont even like kids and i think thats really really REALLY f'ed up.

even me... kid hating ME would never destroy a kid like that. thats just... f'ed up! that person should be fired immediatly to say the least...

Anonymous said...

"Furthermore, if white dolls didn't sell there wouldn't be so many row after row if what you say is even true. If a store saw only dark skinned dolls selling they would, by law, have to stock it. Because a companies only legal requirement to exist is to make profit, and there by we would have only darker hued babies. That is the law of economics.
Please get an education for heaven's sake and stop attacking the messenger."

Many little black girls choose to buy white dolls over black dolls because our society has reinforced the message to little black girls over the past 200 years that white is beautiful and good and powerful and black is not.

Google "white doll black doll" for a quick education.

"The original blog was about snobbery, money, and the price of it all."

Exactly. This is exactly what people buy into when they purchase any product which reflects our society's skewed sensibilities and rampant consumerism, even a Dollar Store knock-off Barbie with her panoply of accessories and Glamour good looks.

Shame on any doll for spending $20 on a hair-do. How is that not also about snobbery, money and the price of it all? How can anyone say "Here's $20 to do my doll's hair" and then complain about snobbery?

Does anyone not see the irony there?

I feel very, very bad for this little girl. She went into this unwittingly and got an unfortunate education.

But that's what happens when pretty and "bling" is what everyone aspires to in this country. Until people overwhelmingly use their purchasing power to buy "chubby, gap-toothed, frizzy-haired Matilda who comes with co-op hemp-woven accessories and a commuter rail pass" then even Dollar Store Barbie is part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Yikes, stay away from this brand, and not just because of this story.

I went to their website, and what a crock - dolls don't teach "values" or "educate" parents do.

Gessh, and I thought it was bad when I was a kid, but just the fact that a place exists for over-priviliged children to have a doll's hair "styled" in the first place (for more than most normal people pay for a HUMAN haircut) is scary and sad.

Take the money you'd spend on these crazy, useless products and do something good with it besides reenforcing the consumer culture that leads to "Stupid Spoiled Whore" syndrome.

I bet Paris Hilton was a huge American Girl customer - do you want your kids to turn out like THAT?

Anonymous said...

Hello annon: ALL coffee is shipped thousands of miles at environmental cost. (Is your coffee grown in Georgia or something.) So if the choice is fair trade or rape and pillage - I'll choose the fair trade brand.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'll choose not to purchase coffee at all. Maybe I'll not buy dolls or "fake" products that trade on AG's name or product development.

Maybe I'll have some level of compassion for an employee who finds herself in the unenviable position of "doll hair-stylist" - and probably not making a whole lot of money herself in comparison - when she has a bad moment after days and weeks of seeing little girls fork over $20 a pop to have their doll's hair done.

Apologies all around. That's all.

Anonymous said...

EEK! Etta's mom, you rock! And I love your writing! AG is sooooooooo in trouble with me.

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for the way the little girl was treated if this story is true. I also feel the mother should be ashamed of herself if this story is true. One of the core parts of being a parent is protecting and raising your child properly. This mother knew she was going to a name brad event with a non name brand doll. Simple logic would probably tell you that it wasn't going to to work out. The mother should have called and asked the question before she even talked to the daughter about going to the event.

This story doesn't really have that ring of truth to me. I don't believe it actually happened. Not in the way the original poster is posting it anyways. If you notice the mother never has any direct comments with the stylist and the other mothers in line. Does that make any sense? That she would just stand by why her daughter presents the doll and gets yelled at by a AG stylist? I believe the original poster is just somebody that had a bad attitude and didn't get what they want so they changed the story to suit there own needs. Or maybe this never actually happened. The original poster left so many holes in the story it just looks like someone throwing a pity party to see how much damage a bogus story could cause a company.

thorschrock said...

I have a radio show in Lincoln, Nebraska about computers and technoloigy and your story would be a PERFECT example of how the Internet can be used to warn others about bad service experiences. We would LOVE to have you on one of our shows. Call me at 402-212-5393 and we will put you on live. Our show airs Saturdays from 10-11 AM (CST). You can listen live on I will put you on today if you can call in the next hour. This is a horrible experience that no little girl should ever have to go through again.

Anonymous said...

That is perhaps the most insensitive thing i have heard. Those people obviously know nothing about children & have no business working with them. I hope that the store really takes a look at themselves & their business practises. I work with children & it is part of my job to lift them up, give them confidence & respect! That just really sucks, I would never buy one of those dolls for a little girl they are overpriced & stupid. I feel really sorry for your daughter. I guess she learned a valuable lesson on how people can be very insensitive & cruel.

Anonymous said...

From what I read the mother wasn't there. Her daughter was with a friend and her friend's mom. I'm wondering how the friend's mom stood up for Etta. Because if the answer is "a little" or "not at all" then maybe its time for new friends too.

Anonymous said...

"Rationalize? Pointing out the obvious fact that not only *can* companies choose to only service their own products but that most do is rationalizing?"

Um maybe the company should have specified on their ads/website that only AG dolls would be 'serviced' at this event.

Since they didn't, it's no surprise that this kid went to the event thinking that her "fake" doll would get a new hairstyle.

Either way, we're talking about little kids, here. That stylist totally made an ass out of herself by demeaning a friggin 6 year old.


dori said...

wow, 167 comments! good to know people are reading. like another commenter here, i was also the girl with the "fake" cabbage patch dolls and all the snobbish results that incurred when i took my completely handmade "fake" cabbage patch doll (i named her "Penelope") to a slumber party. it wasn't until years later when the cost had dropped so far down they were offering them at grocery stores that i got my own "preemie" - i was nearly a teenager at that point.

Etta will one day realize from this experience, thankfully, that she doesn't need a pair of $200 jeans to look good. She'll have a lot more money to travel and spend on materials to make things and do really great things in life while all those other girls are mincing around in overpriced shoes and handbags. hang in there, little etta. and in the meantime, go get some scissors and give your doll a punk-rock haircut.

Anonymous said...

"If you notice the mother never has any direct comments with the stylist and the other mothers in line. Does that make any sense?"

Um, yeah... it makes perfect sense because the mother wasn't there.

Perhaps you need to improve your reading comprehension skills before you try commenting on a blog post again.

Your point is pretty much cancelled out since you didn't read the original post correctly.

D-minus for effort. Move along please.

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

When I was younger I was insanely jealous of my stupid friends with those stupid dolls where even a stupid pillowcase for a stupid bed costs a stupid amount of money.

American Girl Dolls are wonderful-- they're wonderfully expensive.

It's sad that even children are aware of brand images. And if you're not, you'll get yelled at for bringing a less-expensive doll into a ridiculous tourist and consumerist trap.

I hope Etta's happy now that she's a minor celebrity!

Anonymous said...

My family, including my daughter who turns 10 on Monday, is traveling to NYC in a few weeks. The AG Place was on our itinerary. Not anymore. And after my daughter reads why, I won't be surprised if she cuts off all of her AG doll's hair.

CJWhodunit said...


As a mom of a 6 y/o daughter, I am appalled to see how your little girl was treated. :*( I have been boycotting AG for awhile for religious reasons, this gives me even more reasons to not spend my hard-earned money on their overpriced products. When I was a child my favorite doll was from K-Mart--I see nothing wrong with Etta loving her Target doll and wanting to have fun with her. Shameshameshame on that store and those other mean mothers for treating Etta the way they did. >:-( I'll add a link to this on my blog too.

Anonymous said...

It could also be that it didn't happen this way at all. That the stylist was professional and kind in giving the information, but that the child threw a tantrum and the friend's mom had to doctor the story to save face.

Innocent until proven guilty and not by 6yo hearsay.

Anonymous said...

This is such a fake story. I can't believe the majority is falling for this bogus story. The original poster most likely doesn't even have children.

All of you that are bashing American Girl should be ashamed of yourselfs not the American Girl Doll company. Try to get some facts before reacting instead of buying into this silly stuff.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievably, Anonymous, March 24, 2007 at 8:09 said this:

"Maybe I'll have some level of compassion for an employee who finds herself in the unenviable position of "doll hair-stylist" - and probably not making a whole lot of money herself in comparison - when she has a bad moment after days and weeks of seeing little girls fork over $20 a pop to have their doll's hair done. Apologies all around. That's all."

"That's all ?????" You've got to be kidding.

Talk about a pity party. If you can't find a way make it up to this little girl, perhaps you can get your manager in on the act.

Boo-hoo that you are working as a doll hair stylist and chose to make yourself feel momentarily better by crushing the feelings of a six year old girl dressed in thrift store fashions with a doll she bought with her own money.

If you are who you say you are -- you should have been ESPECIALLY nice to the little girl with the not quite brand name doll.

And this pathetic "apologies all around" is not really going to do the trick.

Perhaps you need to get in touch with the child, explain that you were having a really bad day, tell her of course her doll is "real" and actually quite beautiful, and that you'd love to do her doll's hair.

Or at the very least get your manager to send the girl a gift certificate and ask for a chance to make it right. If you aren't up to fixing the doll's hair, take the day off and let someone else do it.

Really sorry that your life as a doll hairstylist sucks - but come on. You spend the day indoors, in NY, in a cushy neighborhood and a posh store. It's not like you're in the Peace Corps.

My sister died in a car accident at the age of 26 while working in Mozambique teaching african teens about reproductive health care and how to avoid contracting aids.

She was no stranger to high end shopping.

But she was able to put her designer clothes and bags aside for the almost four years that she worked in Africa to help make people's lives better.

I don't know anything about your background, but if you are working as a doll's hairstylist, I'm sure you can muster the energy to stop feeling sorry for your SELF, and apologize professionally and in person to this child.

(How can you ask for compassion from others about having to be a doll's hairstylist after the way you treated that girl? Geez!)

Anonymous said...

"The original poster most likely doesn't even have children."

Yeah, you're right. This is all a long a well-thought out campaign. This woman spent a couple of years writing fake blog posts about being a mom, so that - BOOM - one day she could unleash her post about AG.

It was all a sneaky plan, and you, clever poster, figured it out.

Thanks for suggesting we "try to get some facts." I read the AG website, the AG wiki entry, and some of the other posts by this blogger before commenting. Did you? No?

Guess I have more "facts" than you.

Anonymous said...

I read some other posts by this blogger. Seems like she has a perpetual chip on her shoulder over her lifestyle choices.

And I didn't get that it was the actual stylist writing. I got that this was a bad situation all around. A lot of people are very suspicious when there's a lynch mob out for anyone's blood, and justly so.

America, people. Innocent until proven guilty. Let's not all act like the current administration here.

Anonymous said...

I for one have emailed American Girl the following: Shame on your company. Turning away a little girl because her doll wasn't "real" How dare your employee refuse to style the doll's hair. This is quite a black mark on your reputation. "Real" parents are all disgusted with this event having taken place. You just lost a large amount of women buyers, as well as gotten yourself into the largest word of mouth spreaders on earth. MOTHERS!
I for one am a member of mother of multiples (all having twins or more)
This is absolutly appauling.
So be happy with the uptight snooty parents that will remain loyal and buy in to your commercialism."

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Wow. Drama queen much?

Way to put your child (and another mom) in a difficult position and then blame for the company for not arranging itself to suit your demands. Why do I have a hard time believing this is the whole story?

Be sure to write again when they won't seat you in first class with a coach ticket or when Rolex won't service your Timex.

Great lesson you've taught your daughter.

Anonymous said...

I am certain you have done a huge favor to all of us who will now NEVER buy into that type of commercialism and be patrons of American Girl products. I certainly will not. How absolutely awful of that stylist to shame your child in front of others. Don't children learn soon enough that there are differences in socioeconomic status quickly enough?
I view what happened to your child equilvelent to robbing her of her childhood.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry this happened to Etta. Please tell her that I too had 3 no-name dolls which were my favourites. I loved them becuse they were special to me. One because it was given to me by my grandparents. The others just because I loved them. Simple but more important than anything else. Children look at life in a different way until the adult world makes them cynical amd materialistic. The children in line that day may well be caught up in their parents idealistic ways of consumerism but Etta clearly is not. AG dolls come with a back story and personality. Where is the make-believe in that? Im sure Gracie has a very unique personality. AG shoudl be ashamed of themselves for the way they handled the situation. I would like to see a public apology from them too. I found this page through a link on Ebay's community pages. Its worldwide so hopefully AG will take notice.

Anonymous said...

"AG dolls come with a back story and personality."

No, not all of them do. Only the historical dolls. And the Just Like Me dolls not anymore than the Target dolls who come with the story and personality given to them through their costumes and accessories.

The Target dolls' identity comes directly from being AG knock-offs. And anyone who buys an AG knock-off or fake AG clothing is still buying into the commercialism and consumerism of AG. Or else why bring an AG look-a-like to the store? Why not bring a Barbie styling head?

Renae D said...

I read your story on Myspace...thats just horrible, to treat a little girl like that? That stylist (WTH? I must be REALLY sheltered living in the midwest, who knew dolls needed a stylist?) should be ashamed of herself. I guess you can take solice in the fact that Karma has a way of coming around and bitting people like her in the butt.

I have a 2y/o son and a baby on the way, gender undetermined just yet, but you can bet if I have a little girl not one penny of my hard earned money will go to that type of company!

Anonymous said...

To the folks who keep saying things like "don't throw away your kids' AG toys" and "stop ganging up on AG," you need to get a grip.

Customers vote with their pocketbooks.

There is a lesson to be learned here - and AG needs to learn it.

Amen. This is disgusting. Even if the story is only half-true, it's still a pretty revolting half, thank you very much. I've emailed AG and posted about this on my (very popular) site, too.

Anonymous said...

Here's a great quote from the Digg site:

", it's not the responsibility of the parent to understand the services they will or will not provide upon risk of humiliation."

Anonymous said...

I can't believe all you people are falling for this! Kudos to the author for having faith in the gullibility of the public.

phrog said...

Wow. Well, Digg and Consumerist are making sure that this gets LOTS of press.

I just fired off my letter to AG expressing my disgust, and I hope others do as well.

Anonymous said...

I for one would like to hear the other side. I know certain stores won't even replace a watch battery if they don't carry that brand, because if the watch is damaged they want to be able to replace it. That is not unusual I fear that while the doll mayhave been turned away I am having a hard time believing it went EXACTLY as reported here. As humans we tend to see things not as they are, ask any police officer who's ever taken statements @ a crime one sees or hears the same thing, let alone a "story" that is at BEST a distorted second hand. I can't believe how quickly everyone is buying this "story". I for one am skeptical of what is in my newspaper let alone what I read on the web. I think it will be hilarious when the TRUTH is revealed. All everyone sees this for what it is.

Anonymous said...

OK as someone familiar with both types of dolls, I will say that it WAS the hair that made the difference. If the stylist messed up the AG doll hair, it can easily be rewigged. If Gracie's hair was damaged, it's rooted hair and therefore cannot be easily fixed. Also, the hair is MUCH different between the brands.

I DO agree about the fact that this was no way to treat a child and the "stylist" should have just said "sorry I can't do any elaborate style" and just gave the doll a simple style that wouldn't damage the hair. The girl does deserve an apology.

There's NOTHING wrong with a doll not being "AG"'s Etta's doll, she bought it, and it doesn'tneed a fancy label to be special.

I do NOT agree with boycotting AG as a whole because of this. I've bought/collected for nearly 20 years and will continue to do so. Maybe boycott the hair salon at the stores. If you choose not to buy AG because of this, it is, after all, your perogative, just like it is mine to keep buying the dolls. I won't think less of anyone who chooses not to shop AG.

Happy Mama to Three said...


Anonymous said...

I used to live in Chicago just across the street from the American Girl store. It was creepy to watch the little girls go in and out, carrying their little plastic look-alikes. Most of them even had outfits to match their dolls. It always gave me an icky feeling when I'd see them.

Christina said...

Wow... just wow.... just when humanity has a chance to shine and restore a little faith I may have lost, someone like this has to go screw it up. Those moms need the botox slapped out of them!

The stylist had a chance to make a little girl feel so special, and she just blew it. Even if the store had a policy against doing such a thing, she could have handled things differently.

I'm proud of you and your daughter for the way she saved up her own money for her doll. I'm proud of how you explained to her the consequences of getting the expensive doll. I only wish I could hug Etta!

Anonymous said...

Hi Etta and Etta’s MOM…... (Yes she deserves the capital letters).

I usually don’t post things but this is a special case.

Who is in charge of hiring these STUPID ………..persons, sorry, not persons, LOOSERS.
That’s what she is, and probably everybody else in that place, otherwise at least one of them should have done or say something.
About the other moms, I don’t think they even deserved to be mentioned in here. (Good thing I wasn't the one that took her there.)

It’s sad that Etta got this lesson so early in her life but she will understand because she’s VERY SMART and will figure out what happened in that place.

It’s sad to read other “people” making doubtful comments about what happened, if it really was this way or that way, WHO F------ CARES. (Sorry I’m not happy right now).

The truth is, she got rejected because it wasn’t a FANCY AG doll, and is good to know that now the whole world knows about the awful place.

Etta: What's important is that you love and care for your doll.

Etta’s MOM: give my LOVE to her and to the rest of the family.
Keep being the MOM you are.
Give Etta a big kiss in my name.


Please send the link to this page to as many persons as possible, same way we usually do with other stupid (oops, read funny) emails.

Excuse me for my grammar, verbs, etc. Spanish would’ve been easier.

Anonymous said...

Please help Miss Etta visit our store website at

While we don't have our doll clothes (and many other items) on-line, we do have lovely handsmocked dresses just the right size for Gracie. (In fact, if you will send us Etta's size we will do our best to send her the same smocked dress so she and Gracie can match.)

Please contact the store with your address and sizes and a gift box will be on the way to your doorstep!

Anonymous said...

This is begining to seem more & more like a contrived incidence to allow some "good samaritins" to promote their own websites. I am still not convinced that this happened as described.

Consists of... said...

as a mother insist that she get a black doll instead of insisting stores stock dolls of a certain skin type just because you think they should. Vote with your dollars, not complaints. Explain to your daughter about how it is wrong to consider a doll inferior because of it's skin color etc..

I already knew about that study. You proved my point. Black dolls don't sell. Even African American families don't by darker hued babies, so why should the store stock them? Their only legal requirement is to sell the things that sell. Buy a darker skinned baby and they will restock it. If they sell out, they will buy even more babies. You are in control of your daughters perceptions of the world. Do you straighten your hair, dye it, where the latest styles? Do you try to make yourself look anything other than your heritage? I have black curly hair, darker skin than most, but am considered white... until I take my hair out of a pony point is. I don't see myself as just white. (Don't ask me WHAT I am) I buy dolls that look like my children. My one daughter has blond hair. My others have brown hair and olive skin. Guess who gets what.

I live int he south. The fact that my hair is ...frizzy. Makes people stop and look twice. The fact that my skin is white with frizzy black hair confuses people. In truth my hair is so curly that I have tiny waves on each strand. I don't straighten it, or relax it, even though they told me I should. I don't consider myself white, black, latino, asian, or purple with pink spots.

I am me. I don't know what race I am...and really I don't care. Only in America do we have this black/white view. But thanks for proving my point about the dolls not selling.

Put your foot down...make your child accept a doll that represents her race if it bothers you so much that darker hued babies are harder to find. Otherwise you have no right to are helping perpetuate the problem.

Anonymous said...

Goes to show that money cannot buy class, and certainly does not equal good character. Whether one is sucking up to money, as the stylist at AG or actually HAS money, as the classless, flat-charactered "mommies" in line.

Anonymous said...

Let me be the 200th person to express my outrage at this most devastating story. All I can think when I hear about this kind of callous, shallow, hateful bullshit is that karma is real. I wonder what the return would be for stomping on the dreams of a six-year old?

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