Controversy Over American Girl's $95 "Homeless" Doll

No one wants to be the conspicuous consumer during The Great Recession, but how much recession sensitivity is too much recession sensitivity?

Well, for the multimillion-dollar American Girl line (owned by Mattel) political correctness goes far -- all the way to the bank, in fact. The company that rolls out pricey, iconic dolls has introduced a new homeless American Girl.


How can a doll be homeless if you play with it in your home? True to American Girl form, "Gwen" has a back story. Lemme guess. She qualified for a sub-prime loan on a suburban dollhouse, racked up pretend-credit card debt on a raft of plastic kitchen additions, fell behind on the mortgage and got foreclosed on by American Girl bankers? Close, but no. Turns out after Gwen's father walked out and her mother lost her job, the family began sleeping in their car.

Public reaction has been mixed, reports CBS, swinging from positive -- "It kind of shows awareness" -- to less so -- "(it's) extremely disturbing." But Change.org counters that "the only thing obscene about this American Girl controversy is that it takes a plastic doll and her fictional biography to have everyone up in arms. Yet, the real stories of homeless children crowding shelters and schools are accepted without an ounce of outrage."

A poll taken on ParentDish.com shows about half of the site's readers wouldn't buy their daughter a Gwen doll. But 31 percent say they would, despite the doll's whopping $95 price, which certainly makes it a luxury for any homeless family.

Gwen is a limited-edition doll. Two weeks ago, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the recession is "very likely" over. So Gwen's homelessness isn't permanent either, but high unemployment and homelessness certainly isn't going away any time soon.


Presented by

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Business

Just In