American Girl dolls have been a popular gift since their creation in 1986, marketed mainly to girls. Since then, there hasn’t been a boy counterpart of the doll, so when 6-year-old Miles asked his mom for one, Gina DeMillo Wagner, she had to get creative.
Miles asked for “a boy doll like his sister’s American Girl doll,” which was a “Truly Me” doll she had received for her 7th birthday. DeMillo, who is a photographer and writer, scoured eBay and Craigslit for 18-inch dolls, and ended up buying a Madame Alexander doll for $25. So, how did she actually makeover the doll to look like her son? She removed the blush and lipstick with nail polish remover, cut its hair, and bought new clothes.
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The bigger issue here, however, is the fact that there aren’t many doll options for boys, especially older boys, which exemplifies the gender stereotyping that is reflected with how companies market products to children. DeMillo thinks businesses should change their models:
“I think it’s a simple business equation for many companies, and they may not realize that there’s a big enough market for boy dolls…If my story helps toy companies rethink the market and consider breaking down gender barriers, then I’m thrilled. I’d love to see that happen.”
Of course, Miles was thrilled when his mom surprised him with his lookalike doll–you can watch his reaction on DeMillo’s Instagram: