The Silly Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Silly Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Silly Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

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April 1, 2024
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Icons of Girlhood: The Impact of American Girl

A visualization of the enduring legacy of the iconic store from Gen Z’s childhood
A display of all of the Girl of the Year dolls from 2001-2023.

American Girl, a line of American dolls that debuted in 1986 and was created by Pleasant Company, has touched the lives of generations of girls across the country for nearly 40 years. The brand, now owned by American entertainment company Mattel, features 20 historical dolls, each of which were created in settings during various pivotal moments of U.S. history. From Melody, a young singer who defies racism in Detroit, Michigan during the American Civil Rights Movement, to Molly, an American girl on the “home front” during World War II, these dolls serve as a pathway for young girls to explore history and the world around them.

The toy company has released Girl of the Year dolls annually since 2003 as well as Truly Me dolls, which are meant to mirror their owners’ self-expression. These dolls have become ingrained within pop cultural symbols of “girlhood,” portraying young girls ranging from the ages of eight to 14. Wandering around the flagship store in Rockefeller Center, it’s clear that the brand’s iconography continues to hold immense weight within the contemporary generation of young girls.

The American Girl Store remains a place of joy and wonder for girls and women alike as the brand inspires them to be their best selves.

Apart from the dolls and accessories, there are a variety of amenities for visitors to enjoy. The Rockefeller Center store includes a hair salon where girls and dolls alike can have their hair styled, ears pierced and nails done in bright designs. The iconic American Girl Cafe is located on the basement level, where dolls can accompany their owners to an exciting dining experience. Visitors without their own dolls can rent one for the duration of their meal to ensure they have a mini friend by their side in the notable pink high chairs.

The American Girl Store remains a place of joy and wonder for girls and women alike as the brand inspires them to be their best selves. As the toy landscape for young girls has shifted over the years, American Girl continues to stand the test of time as its cultural impact shines through.

CORRECTION: The print version of this article, released on March 13, incorrectly referred to Melody as a Civil Rights activist when noting her decision to speak out against racial discrimination. The article has been updated prior to online publication to reflect that Melody is a young singer who defies racism in Detroit, Michigan during the American Civil Rights Movement.



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About the Contributors
SHELBY WILLIAMS, Social Media Editor
Shelby Williams (she/her), FCLC ’25, is a social media editor at The Observer. She is currently serving as the chairperson of The Observer’s inaugural diversity, equity and inclusion committee. Shelby is studying American studies with a concentration in diversity and difference on the pre-law track and minoring in communications and culture. In her free time, you can find her living vicariously through her Sims 4 families, obsessing over her Pinterest boards or filling silence with “Go Rams!” (though it is not indicative of school spirit).
ANA KEVORKIAN, Former Managing Editor
Ana Kevorkian (she/her), FCLC ’24, is the former managing editor at The Fordham Observer. This is her third year with The Observer, having previously served as head copy editor, and she is so excited to serve the organization which has given her so much in this capacity. When she’s not doing Observer-related tasks, you can find her watching movies (see: “Fordham Cinephiles Can Finally Know Peace”), listening to Taylor Swift, reading and wandering the city aimlessly.
MORGAN JOHNSON, Podcast Host
Morgan Johnson (she/her), FCLC ’26, is a podcast host at The Observer. She is studying journalism. In her free time, she enjoys watching video essays on YouTube, reading and going to concerts. Morgan definitely enjoys listening to podcasts.

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