Since 1986, American Girl dolls like Molly McIntire, recognizable by her pigtails and round glasses, and Josefina Montoya, dressed in a long red and blue skirt and moccasins, have transported children who played with them to Illinois during World War II or in what is now New Mexico in the early 19th century.
Books like “Samantha Helps a Friend” and “Felicity’s Surprise” functioned as windows into history for young readers who eagerly followed the adventures of their favorite character.
Now, a meme has sprung up on social media in which people brazenly suggest expanding the historical American Girl doll universe to include other historical dramas, many of which veer into the absurd.
They begin with the phrase “We need an American Girl doll that…”. Some fill Part Two with major events covered in American textbooks, such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Others are more obscure: a meme imagines an American Girl doll who survived the dancing plague of 1518.
Other variations refer to archetypes from recent history, such as an American Girl doll who “is a whistleblower” or one “who scammed millions of investors with the promise of a start-up social club.
A recent meme on the @hellicity_merriman Instagram account, which has become something of a destination for people looking for American Girl humorous content, features a blank-eyed doll in a beanie and long blue skirt smiling with an old ship sailing by. the water behind it. The superimposed text reads: “We need an American doll that was on the Mayflower in 1620 but fell.”
In another variation, a doll wearing a beret and Converse sneakers stands in front of a stack of detergent packets with the words “we need an American doll who ate a tide pod and nearly died”.
The more ironic you can be, the more we found the messages resonated,” said Barrett Adair, who runs the @hellicity_merriman account with a friend. The account was created in February and is named after Felicity Merriman, an American.
The first memes from the @hellicity_merriman account are simpler, combining images of American Girl dolls – symbols of childhood and innocence – with incongruous adult concepts like Brazilian buttocks and OnlyFans, the website where some people sell nude or sexual images and videos. of themselves.
A multi-part series describes the different ways American Girl dolls would use cannabis. (Kit Kittredge of the 1930s rolled joints with Bible papers, and Kirsten Larson, who was a pioneer, used a pipe made from a bull’s horn.)
More recently, the account administrators decided to experiment with historical memes. They were inspired when they reflected on some of the American Girl books they loved to read as children.
Jamie Cygielman, American Girl’s chief executive, said the dolls have fans of all ages and the company isn’t surprised “when our fans, especially those who grew up with the brand, continue to love them. engage and entertain in culturally relevant ways.
Mrs. Adair’s favorite doll, Samantha Parkington, has an adopted sister named Nellie O’Malley who spent her childhood working in a factory and as a servant. “The stories are really dark,” Ms Adair said.
The founders of @hellicity_merriman see their stream as “a bit of an escape”. And this escape could be particularly important for their audience: Millennials and Gen Z who have publicly expressed their dismay at the crises their generations have experienced over the past two years, including the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. “It kinda puts things into perspective,” Ms. Adair said.
Since he started posting his opinions on the meme, the @hellicity_merriman account has gained tens of thousands of new fans. In the past two weeks, his subscriber count has grown from around 10,000 to over 75,000.
Ms. Adair sees this as both ironic and thought provoking. Each image imagines American Girl dolls surviving very stressful, sometimes catastrophic events. In the world of these memes, there’s nothing the world won’t throw at an American Girl doll, and there’s nothing she can’t do. She, representing the childhood of countless girls, can succeed where others have failed.
“An American Girl doll will sign the Executive Order to cancel all student debt,” Ms Adair said. “It’s up to them now.”