October 1, 2009

American Girl downplays homeless doll

A spokeswoman for American Girl says youth bullying, not homelessness, inspired the U.S. doll maker's homeless character.

The unidentified spokeswoman for the product line said while the character Gwen is secretly homeless in the American Girl storyline, her situation is actually more about how girls can be bullies and also how to stand up to bullies, The Chicago Sun-Times said Thursday.

American Girl, which is a subsidiary of Mattel, traditionally offers look-alike and historical dolls. The toy brand came under fire with the release of Gwen as New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser questioned the messages behind a homeless doll enduring family problems.

Gwen's problems were highlighted in an American Girl book and film about Chrissa, the 2009 Girl of the Year, the Sun-Times reported.

At least one shopper at the American Girl store in Chicago's Water Tower Place applauded Gwen's story of homelessness.

It's a great idea for kids to learn there is a different part of society, shopper Barbara Fidler told the Sun-Times.