The Sisterhood of the Dolls (Or should that be Fandom of the Dolls?)

Back in 1990 when I got my first American Girl doll, I remember thinking it was a little bit crazy.  A grown 20-something woman wanting a doll geared towards an 8 year old kid.  But then again, my mom collected Barbie dolls, so it wasn’t all that weird, was it?  It was a Christmas gift and I was so excited to get her.  Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I decided to buy Rebecca and if you’ve been reading my blog since the early days, you know that my collection has expanded a bit.  Alright, not just a bit, A LOT.  I guess I got past thinking it was weird.

Starting this blog 3 years ago was something I did just for fun and as an experiment.  Never in a million years did I ever think that I would still be doing it at this point (and no signs of stopping).  Nor did I expect the kind of responses I’ve gotten from people.  I just figured it would be one of many blogs out there that once in a while had someone pop in and read.  Boy was I wrong!  I’ve had people from all over the world visit.  And comment.  There are days when I go in and look at the daily stats for visitors and I’m totally blown away.  The best part is that quite a few of these people have not just become readers, but friends.  People who I e-mail, text and have phone conversations with on a regular basis.  I’ve even managed to meet one of them in person several times, and I hope to meet several more someday.  These are awesome friendships, forged from a mutual interest.  You have no idea what that has meant to me over the past few years.

I had no idea just how many adult collectors there are for just American Girl and other 18 inch dolls of similar styles.  I love how passionate these people are for their collections too.  There are those (like me) who collect a variety; GOTY’s, historicals (they will never be BeForever to me!) and others.  Then there are those who find their niche and stick to it.  It’s a great community though, and even though there are times where we may not all agree 100% on everything, there is one thing we can all agree on for sure–that we love dolls and for us, there is no age limit.  Whether you are 8 or 80, dolls are such a universal thing.  Truthfully, you can say that about almost any toys, but I think dolls are probably one of the most varied items in that category and there is something for everyone.

San Diego recently had their giant convention where people from around the world get together to enjoy all sorts of different areas of science fiction, comic book, adventure–well, quite frankly, just about anything you can think of.  I hadn’t really thought about it much until someone posted a photo on Twitter that showed the crowd (or lack thereof) on the day of the very first one.  A couple of guys walking around in front of a large building.  Then there was a photo of the most recent one, a big crowd.  Now it’s a huge event, with people buying tickets well in advance and it sells out every single year.  Amazing.  Something that people thought of as weird, unusual, and only for “nerds” has become so popular that the biggest celebrities in the industry show up year after year.  Who would have thought?  I’m sure the guys who set up the first one never imagined someone as big as Stan Lee (the godfather of comic books) would eventually be making regular appearances at these things.

This got me to thinking–we are sort of like our own little “club”.  (I hesitate to use the word sisterhood because I know that there are a few male doll collectors!)   All brought together by a mutual love of dolls.  I always feel terrible when I hear of someone who has been made fun of because they collect dolls (or something else).  Collectibles have a way of giving you a great amount of pleasure, no matter what they are.  Whether it’s taking you back to a moment in childhood, or something you always wanted but never got for Christmas, there is that moment of excitement when you’ve found that particular item.  And it’s a feeling many of us share.  I recently listened to an interview with the lead singer of one of my favorite bands who has an large collection of lunchboxes.  He talked about how it was fun in the early days of the band (before the internet) to go scrounging through the phone book of the various places that they went, looking for stores that sold collectibles, antiques, etc, hoping to score that great find.  For him it was a “Lost In Space” lunchbox, the one he always wanted as a kid.  As I listened, I could totally relate, not just from my own view point, but also from that of so many of my friends, readers and fellow bloggers in this awesome doll fandom.  I not only enjoy when I find something incredible, but also when I see that one of my doll cohorts has come across a terrific find somewhere.  While we might be slightly envious at times, we are also genuinely happy for someone because we know how it feels.

A couple of years ago I read an excellent post by an author whose blog I followed.  Unfortunately I can’t share it because her blog isn’t exactly suited for kids.  But I’ll give you the basic gist.  As a kid growing up, her family had very little money.  Her “holy grail” of toys was an American Girl Samantha, but the reality was that when you barely have enough money to put food on the table, a doll that costs that much just isn’t happening.  A couple of summers ago she was vacationing with friends and while in a store, she noticed a Samantha doll in one of the displays.  She had recently released a book that did better beyond her belief, and she decided that Samantha was going to be her reward for that.  She didn’t care how much she cost, she was prepared to wipe out every penny in her wallet to get her.  And then an amazing thing happened.  When she asked the woman who ran the store (who was also the owner) about Samantha and if she was willing to sell her, the woman said no.  She gave Samantha to her.  I can remember reading that, with tears pouring down my face because I was so happy for her, and I totally got how she felt.  Samantha later appeared in further blog posts with some hilarious results, and it was no doubt a moment that she was never going to forget, and neither was I.  It was great to see someone get their hearts desire, that item that had been missing from their past.

So why am I writing this post?  Well, for several reasons.  I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who has read this blog for the past 3 years for all of your support, well wishes, laughs and friendship.  It’s been an amazing journey thus far, and I look forward to seeing where it ends up next.  I’m still surprised at how things have turned out, and since my brain doesn’t seem to quit working when it comes to all things doll, I’m sure I have at least a few good years of ideas to go.  Time will tell.

I also wanted to tell everyone to stay passionate about your fandom.  Whether it’s dolls, lunchboxes, Sherlock, Doctor Who–whatever–don’t let anyone discourage you.  If it is something you love, don’t let others tell you it’s stupid, or that you are too old for it.  My mom was 89 when she passed away, and her dolls were a tremendous source of joy and fun for her.  I’m always a bit disheartened when I hear someone say “oh, I’m too old for (insert item here).”  No you aren’t.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise either.  If you want to get rid of your dolls or toys because you truly aren’t interested in them anymore, that’s fine.  Maybe further down the road you’ll find that interest again, or you’ll find something else to fill that space.  Whatever you do, don’t let anyone bully you into thinking that you are too old for something you enjoy, or that it’s weird.  If it gives you true happiness and it’s not hurting anyone else, that is what is genuinely important.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret–some of them are either jealous or secretly have dolls/toys hidden away somewhere, but are afraid to admit it! 😉

So, to the Sisterhood/Fandom of the Dolls (and whatever else you collect)–thank you and to many more years of fun! (And in case you are wondering, yes, he did finally get the “Lost In Space” lunchbox. 🙂 )

25 thoughts on “The Sisterhood of the Dolls (Or should that be Fandom of the Dolls?)

  1. What a lovely post. You nailed it.

    We’re buying a new house (almost there, I hope) and I have friends telling me, “well, you don’t need a doll room.” Yes, I do. And I’m so glad to have friends like you who get it.

  2. Loved this post! Your blog was one that made me want to follow suit… and here we are alongside you. It’s been so much fun and it gives me a creative outlet. I appreciate your friendship and the friendship of all the regular visitors in these parts.

    One thing I think is unique in this blog community is that people don’t just visit to try to promote their own blogs. It makes the blood, sweat, and tears that come from trying to wrangle dolls into photo stories worthwhile!!

    I do think it’s a shame that the US doll community doesn’t have an “event”… I mean, there are meetings for fans of rainbow dash… surely we have enough to discuss in the Ag world to warrant our own summit!
    I was talking to Brianna about the closing of Doll Diaries and LADL. The establishment is moving on, so it’s time to carry the torch and make it our own.

    Women with dolls… I always say, people think nothing of men who have train sets. It’s healthy for women to have some pastimes that are purely play… no one benefits except me. I think it’s terrific that IG and AGSM has given older girls a new venue to play that feels safe.

    • The creative outlet is probably what drew me to all of this in the first place. I remember back before I started the blog, watching a whole series of My Froggy Stuff videos on YouTube and being completely amazed. And the more I thought about it, I decided that while I may not be able to turn a cereal box into a ski chalet, I had my own things that I knew about and it was time to share them. It’s fun seeing all of the different ways people use their dolls and collections to bring joy, not just to themselves but to others. I think one of my favorite uses for dolls so far has been your visits to the nursing facility and hearing the stories of how the people responded to the dolls.

      And yes, it’s great to see that the majority of people aren’t just in it for themselves. There is a huge sense of community overall. Sure, there are a couple that maybe are a bit self centered, but that’s their issue, not mine.

      Maybe someone who has the resources and know how will read this post and think “hey, we need a doll event!”

    • Yes! I”ve been wishing for an AG convention for a while too. Maybe some day. AG has changed so much over such a short period of time…you never know what might happen in the future.

      Flo, I love this post!!!! Thanks for your blog!! I always enjoy reading every post!

  3. I love this post! I always wanted to find a Molly or a Samantha or an Addy tucked beneath my Christmas tree when I was a little girl, but when your raised by a single mother on a teacher’s salary in the 90’s pricey dolls were never part of the equation. But as I got older in my 20’s and now early 30’s, I have come back to it. I now have a career in which from time to time I can indulge and feed my AG addiction. My family thinks it’s sort of strange that I am an Adult woman that collects dolls, but it something that gives me joy. And I know that I am not alone😀 I hope to one day pass my dolls on to my daughter and possibly son but until then I will keep collecting.

    • I wonder how many adult collectors are people who were in your situation as a child but now have expendable cash and that desire to get something they missed out on? I can’t help but wonder too how many of these girls who have decided to get rid of theirs (and we know they do) that will wish later on that they hadn’t? Keep on collecting!

      • Oh me me me. I *know* my parents would never have bought me an AG (the Cabbage Patch kid I received as the Big Present for my 6th birthday in 1985 was homemade and so was her wardrobe). My first AG arrived in my life when I was 35 and 16 dolls later, I’m still living my second (far more fun) childhood. My partner is a toy collector too (and he’s adopted my Juniper as “his” doll), and he’s built me a doll house so far (to go in my doll room) and a gorgeous replica of Caroline’s skiff

  4. Well said! My doll collection has become my “art” of sorts; it’s a creative outlet that allows me to sew, photograph, write, and just generally use my imagination. That’s something we constantly encourage children to do, why not adults? Dolls enhance my life greatly. I’m in it for the long haul!

    • That’s how we are very similar, I love having a hobby that serves as a creative outlet for several different things that I enjoy doing. And yeah, why not adults?!?! I think of J. K. Rowling who was told several times over that Harry Potter would never do very well and was rejected by 12 different publishing houses. I bet they are regretting that now! There is no end to what you can do with a good imagination.

  5. I am a collector of many things. I didn’t start the modern day 18 inch doll collecting until about 6 pr 7 years ago w/ my Springfield Collection doll “Julie”. She and all the other 18-inch friends live in my toy room (yes MY toy room) along w/ my Star Trek stuff, comic books action figures, board games, Hot Wheels, Colorforms, etc…I’m the oddball in my family. They all love sports, cell phones and flat screen TVs, but none of them are collectors. Come to think of it, none of them are especially creative, either. I’ve always loved to craft and tell stories, but my dolls have provided a new outlet to do both w/ my blog. It’s a lot of fun telling my 70s tales and taking a trip through the “Way-Back” machine. Yes, it would be great if there were something like Comic Con for the 18 inch doll collector. Maybe one day there will be, and when that day comes, I hope to see you all there!

    • I’m going to confess something here. I feel sorry for people who don’t have hobbies or collections. I think life would be horribly boring to only watch TV or clean your house. There are so many fun things out there to see and do, and limiting yourself because you think it’s weird is a shame because you might be missing out.

      I consider your blog to be educational as well as fun since we see a side of life through the eyes of a girl in the 1970’s. I remember growing up with my family members telling stories of the things they remembered as kids. I think it’s important to keep those memories alive in some way. It’s all part of history!

    • Thank goodness for you Sharry! How dull and boring to not be creative. I bet they feel blessed to have you to give them something to think about. 🙂 It’s exactly the same in my family. However, I have embraced my hobbies, and crafting as well as everything in the doll world, and that sort of gives my mom and my sister permission to do the same in their own more sensible, practical way. 🙂

      ginnie / http://www.fakingitmostly.com

      • We won’t! Seriously, when you think about it, we as a large group got a multi-million dollar company to re-think a decision and reverse it! That says a lot. And it’s that passion about a product line that keeps us all going. So yes, hurrah for the Sisterhood!

  6. Thank you for all that was said! I love this doll community! It gives me a chance to express myself and be creative. Now, if only I could be creative enough to find a place for all my doll items! lol😊l

  7. My hubby is a train collector, when I use the men and trains thing on him he rolls his eyes and I laugh (well, sometimes I fume – considering my collection probably cost 1/20th of his amassed collections small and large).

    I love this post! I was recently at a yard sale where the women had a Magic Attic girl out. She was lovely and they said she was not heavily played with because the little girl who loved her had an older brother that said something nasty and put her off. That made me sad. you need to be true to you to be happy.

    The latest update on our home renovations is to be complete mid September, so then I can really work on my doll room or she shed. Just hoping everything fits how I want it to. 😀

    • I read your post and I couldn’t help but laugh–like Franz has room to talk!!!!!! ROFL!

      That is sad to hear about the negative influence someone had that caused that girl to get rid of a doll. That’s partially why I wrote this post because I’m hoping it will perhaps help someone who has had a similar situation overcome the negativity. I think of the fun you and I have had together with our photo shoots and how many GOOD comments we’ve gotten. I still haven’t recovered from that cute UPS guy LOL!

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