What started off as the anti-Barbie to get little girls interested in history while promoting a healthy body image, American Girl Dolls have become a status symbol for adolescent girls that encourages a heightened sense of self-importance and vanity. Today girls are less interested in the historical characters, preferring the “My American Doll” line which allows them to create a little avatar of themselves with matching skin tone, eye color, and hairstyle- matching outfits sold separately. By photographing American girls with their Mini-me American Girl Dolls, Polish photographer Ilona Szwarc investigates “how culture and society conditions gender and how it invents childhood.”
Szwarc’s collection of photographs don’t quite look like the ones in the American Girl catalogue where every girl is smiling ear to ear as she holds a doll wearing the same pajamas. Her subjects show the reality of the American dream where having things only makes you want more. The American Girl line of accessories is as endless as the clothes, shoes, and home decor that Mommy wants. With many of her subjects being hopeful child actresses and models, Szwarc’s photos show her belief that “girls in the U.S. seem to all be raised as future stars and they feel very entitled — these dolls underscore that.” See more of the American Girls collection on the Ilona Swarc’s website.