One of my friends tells an excellent story about her husband’s shopping expedition in New York. He stepped into the doll wonderland that is American Girl and asked a sales assistant for help buying dolls for his daughters. No sooner he had asked for help than he was whisked away to the private showroom and assigned a personal shopper. Needless to say, his daughters have gorgeous American Girl dolls with an enviable collection of accessories.
If you are not familiar with American Girl, take a look at their online store. The iconic dolls are available with a huge range of outfits and accessories and come dressed as historical figures or you can create your own doll (and most little girls create a doll to look just like themselves).
Photographer Ilona Szwarc initially came into contact with American Girl when she was shooting street photography. Szwarc saw countless girls toting their ‘mini-me’ American Girl dolls and decided to document them. Posting announcements about her photography project on American Girl doll fan pages, Szwarc found lots of willing participants. The result is a collection of approximately one hundred photographs, shot over a two year period, titled American Girls.
It’s compelling stuff – from ‘tomboy’ Jade in her hoodie and jeans to Jenna, on her horse with her American Girl on a matching pony – each portrait is strangely revealing. The fact that many of the girls are older and yet still have their American Girls demonstrates the unique place these dolls have in the lives of their owners.
For more on children and their toys, see our previous post on Gabriele Galimberti’s Toy Stories photography project.