Truly Me (originally American Girl of Today in 1995; shortened to American Girl Today in 1996; renamed Just Like You in 2006; renamed to My American Girl in 2010; and renamed to the current name in 2015) is the line of clothing and dolls that are intended to reflect a more modern time than that of the Historical Characters.
The line has eighty-two dolls with different combinations of skin tone, eye color, face mold, and hair color that are intended to resemble girls (and recently, boys) of various ethnicities and looks. They are intended to resemble an older child within an age range of about eight to twelve years.
While it is commonly assumed that the dolls are customizable, American Girl has stated this modern line is not and has never been available to be customized. Purchasers from the Truly Me line can only pick from the currently available doll selection, and parts cannot be mixed around. Thus, if a doll does not come available with hazel eyes, dark skin, and red curly hair, one cannot be made on site and is only available through the Create Your Own line at a higher cost.
The only way Truly Me dolls can be modified at purchase is ear piercing, selecting dolls without hair or adding hearing aids; ear piercing and hearing aids must be ordered at time of purchase and bald dolls are either available by calling in to Customer Service or ordering the four available on-site.
American Girl does not assign official races or ethnicities to any of the dolls. The dolls' colors are defined only in terms of three skin tones--dark, medium, and light—though several molds have implied ethnicity. This allows a purchaser to decide the ethnic background of her doll herself without being tied to a race. (These terms are also applied to Bitty Baby and Bitty Twins.) Unlike the Historical/BeForever Characters, Girls of the Year, or Contemporary Characters, the dolls are not named or characterized by American Girl directly. Instead, purchasers are encouraged to name and create the doll's personality themselves.
Many of these dolls are turned into various custom characters by older collectors including unique historical characters, uncreated characters from the historical books, true-to-life historical characters, and characters from other fandoms. This is due to the fact that the doll's anatomy across 18" dolls allows modern dolls to fit any historical clothing.
Doll Numbering System
- See also: Visual Chart of Truly Me Dolls
The numbering system for the dolls was originally tied to the ordering codes. With the modification of the ordering codes, the numbers for the dolls are determined partially by release order and partially by American Girl. The dolls are numbered in the display cases at American Girl Place and also referred to by number on the website.
Meet Outfits are the outfits the dolls are sold in; they are updated roughly every two years to reflect updated children's fashion. While the dolls no longer come with creative writing books or creative play items, the outfits are still called meet outfits.
|Meet Outfits for American Girl of Today, Just Like You, My American Girl, and Truly Me Dolls|
|1995: Mix and Match Outfit||1996: First Day Outfit||1998: Red Vinyl Jumper Outfit|
|2000: Urban Outfit||2002: Go Anywhere Outfit||2004: Ready for Fun Outfit|
|2006: I Like Your Style Outfit||2008: Star Hoodie Outfit||2010: Real Me Outfit|
|2012: True Spirit Outfit||2015: Lilac Dress||2017: Truly Me Outfit|
|2018: Truly Me Boy's Outfit|
Outfits, Accessories, and Furniture
Along with the dolls, American Girl releases several outfits that are intended to reflect the current fashion trends for modern girls. Outfits generally are assumed to have a life cycle of about two to three years, while accessories and furniture tends to last for upwards of three to five years. This can be shorter or longer; many holiday outfits, for example, only last through a single holiday season before retirement. A lot of outfits and accessory sets reflect the styles of the era they are released in.
With more acknowledgement of disabilities and allergies, accessory sets have included references to disability beyond the use of a wheelchair and glasses such as diabetes, hearing aids and other physical disability and health needs, and assistance pets.
1995: American Girl of Today
Twenty different dolls were originally released as the American Girl of Today line in 1995. Girls were encouraged to create their own dolls that were part of history, with the tagline "You're Part of History Too!"; marketing focused on the line as a modern parallel of the cultivated Historical Characters. Each doll came with a set of six blank books and writing guides written by Valerie Tripp and intended to guide a child through story writing.
Several released outfits, accessories, and items were intended to mimic the Historical Character lines with Meet, School, Holiday, Birthday, Summer, and Winter like collections.
For a period, starter collections similar to starter Historical Collections could be purchased e.g. a doll of the purchaser's choice with several outfits and accessories for a lowered collective cost, or a full Birthday collection that included all but a doll.
1998: American Girl Today
The line was slightly renamed to "American Girl Today." The dolls now came with only one blank book (the "Meet" book) and a writing guide. The meet outfit began to change more often.
Initial releases of the Girls of the Year were released under the American Girl Today logo.
2000: Mattel Ownership
Soon after the release of dolls in the Urban Outfit, the writing books were phased out.
2001: New Mattel Dolls
The first Mattel Doll, #21, was released, which was the first new doll in the line since the initial launch.
2004: First Doll Retirements
For the first time, dolls in the American Girl Today Line were retired: #9, #10, and #20. As #19 had already been modified to have green eyes in 1999, this removed every grey-eyed modern doll from the line, and all grey-eyed dolls available at the time except Molly. This has been retroactively been assumed to be because the color was more prone to the silver eye defect.
2006: Just Like You
In 2006, the line was renamed "Just Like You." The dolls were re-marketed as avatars or friends of the girls who would be purchasing them, rather than emphasizing a girl's place in history. The targeted girl was encouraged to see the new character as a buddy or playmate that was much like them, and enjoyed the same activities they did.
This led to several miscommunication issues about the line, as multiple purchasers and customers misinterpreted the name, wrongly assuming that dolls were customizable, being customized for the user or could be/were designed to resemble a child recipient. Many people complained that dolls did not come in enough variety to represent the recipient, especially children. American Girl emphasized that the theme behind the name was that the creation of the doll's personality and interests and ties to the modern era were to be just like the target-age child, not the doll's specific looks.
2007: Bangs Adjusted
In 2007, the bangs of many of the dolls began to be modified to finer, wispier bangs. #7, #14, and #19 were the first to have modified bangs; in 2008 #2, #4, #5, #12, #13, #16, and #17 were all given finer bangs.
2008: Earrings and Ear Piercing
When #27 was initially released, she came with attached silver star earrings. In 2008, her earrings were removed and any Just Like You Doll could be modified at purchase to have pierced ears. Dolls came with a package of six studs and danglers to mix and match, the Silver Star Earrings.
2009: Largest Release of Dolls
In 2009--after releasing new modern dolls in relatively small amounts--twenty new dolls were released simultaneously in September of that year. This took the number of dolls that had ever been available through both the American Girl of Today and Just Like You line (including all retired dolls) from thirty-two to fifty-two and was the largest single release of dolls since the start of the line. This also included the first use of the Jess Mold and Sonali Mold in the line.
2010: My American Girl
With the launch of Innerstar University, the line was renamed My American Girl. The dolls were still marketed as companions or friends, but with less emphasis on the idea of a doll being just like the targeted child in looks (even though this was never the intention of the line) or being a representation. The website helped encourage the consumer to design any character by personality traits, and focused more on independent character creation. Doll items such as clothes now came with charms to collect (see details below) and information and codes for joining Innerstar University.
Meet Outfits were not available for a separate purchase directly due to the outfits coming with included Innerstar codes.
See Also: Visual Chart of My American Girl Charms
At the same time the line was rebranded, charms were offered with most outfits. Nine Personality Traits are noted, with specified logos and colors:
- Brave: Dark Magenta Star Logo
- Confident: Turquoise Round Flower w/Leaves
- Fair: Magenta Converging wavy lines
- Kind: Light Green Heart
- Loyal: Pink Butterfly
- Proud: Three Orange Shooting Stars
- Real: Periwinkle Star w/ Converging Half-circle Arches
- Smart: Dark Orange Starburst
- Strong: Purple Flower
Charms come in four styles:
- Rectangular Charm in assigned color with text of personality trait in white
- Heart Charm with trait logo in assigned color and coordinated color background
- Square Charm with trait logo in coordinated color (same as used with Heart Charms) and in assigned color background
- Round Charm with white background, logo in assigned color, and assigned color border.
The combination of charm style and personality trait made for thirty-six unique charms. Charms come on small tri-folded pamphlets, with the charms on small cards (thus allowing a generic card for all charms). The paper names the charm, and has a quote from a girl age 8-12 about the personality trait. Charms are marketed as items to be added to the necklace that is included with meet outfits, much in the style of Add-A-Girl necklaces from the 90s, and to define a doll's personality.
Starting In 2015, outfits no longer came with charms, and American Girl stated on their official Facebook page that they would start to be phased out.
2012: Bald Dolls and Hearing Aids
For the first time, modern bald dolls became available, as well as hearing aids as a permanent modification to any modern doll. While bald dolls initially must be specially ordered directly from customer service or on site at stores, hearing aids can be applied at purchase including at American Girl Place locations.
Bald dolls were later made available on the website starting in 2017.
2015: Truly Me
The line was renamed Truly Me and meet outfits were once again made available as a separate purchase for a brief time. Innerstar codes were no longer bundled with meet outfits with American Girl discontinuing support for Innerstar University by that November.
Dolls now came with a Truly Me activity set (officially the Me-and-My Doll Activity Set); a box that includes idea cards for imaginative doll play, doll crafts, recipes, and quizzes, and advice for children.
The default earrings for piercing became the Stars and Hoops Earrings.
2016: Toys R Us Availability
Dolls on a limited basis became available at Toys R Us American Girl locations. At the same time, the Me-and-My Doll Activity Set began to be phased out.
2018: Boy Dolls
In 2018 after the release of the first boy doll, Logan Everett, four male dolls were released into the Truly Me Line: #74, #75, #76, and #77. The dolls were given modified face molds with slightly thicker jawlines and closed mouths, and painted with thicker brows. They came in unique, more masculine meet outfits. With their release, more masculine outfits were offered.
2019: Friends: Making Them and Keeping Them
Truly Me dolls now came with a paperback copy of Friends: Making Them and Keeping Them. For a brief time--from August 2019 until May 2020--the price of dolls across the line (and brand) dropped to $98.
2020: Uniquely-Colored Hair Dolls
Starting in 2020, dolls started to be released with unique "dyed hair" colors, capitalizing on the current trend of children and adults dying or accenting their hair in bright colors. This was initially launched with #86 and #88, followed later by #87.
Criticism of the Line
De-emphasis of Unique Character Creation
With the switch of the line to "Just Like You", critics initially pointed out that the line no longer emphasized the dolls as characters in time or encouraged writing or creative character design. This was most prominently seen with the I Like Your Style Outfit, which came with a book and CD that had a pop-like song on it; the critique was that the book did not encourage a young girl to begin creating her own stories for the doll. The second book released, Fun with Your Doll, encouraged play; however, after the Star Hoodie Outfit was retired, no further books were included with dolls until 2019.
With the promotion of Innerstar University, the line once again started to emphasize character creation, albeit in the venue of online interactivity. The Me-and-My Doll Activity Set encouraged creative play, but did not heavily emphasize character creation or development. The line continues to offer moderate concepts for doll interaction and creativity in play, including unique traits to consider during purchase and in ideas for character personality.
The line has caught criticism due to the hues of the outfits leaning towards pinks and pastels and the general lean towards more feminine clothes. Many outfits under Pleasant Company varied in both style and colors and several outfits had darker, neutral, earthy tones. Most outfits now are in pastel hues with several outfits having elements of pink and purple. There are fewer outfits that vary in activity and several more feminine activities such as ballet, though sports continue to be included.
This has become slightly mitigated with the introduction of boy dolls. While outfits are mostly displayed on one or the other, they can always be purchased for dolls of any gender.
Lack of Racial Diversity
While there have been many dolls released (not including remodels) across the life of the line, the majority of the dolls can be mapped visually to a white background and phenotype. The original release of the line included three dolls with the Addy Mold and one unique Asian Mold; only four of the originals did not have "light" skin. 2006 was the first time a modern doll was released with the Josefina Mold, #28. Up until 2008, where the Jess Mold was used for the first time, there had been only one Asian mold used--the one for #4, who does not share her face with any other dolls and has since been retired. In 2009, two dolls were given the Sonali Mold--the first time a face mold had been used multiple times at release since 1986.
It also seemed for a while that one doll was exchanged for another; for example, #31 came out the same time #18 was retired. This happens with several dolls, however--#3 was retired for #32.
Recently, the skin tone for "dark" dolls has become a lighter brown than previously; the "medium" tone so far appears to be the same. Furthermore, the Addy mold has started to phase out, being replaced with the Sonali Mold for dolls that are perceived as black.
This leads to some people, seeking more diverse dolls, to make custom dolls. Some purchase Historical Character dolls and dress them as moderns or purchase moderns and customize them to diversify their collections.
With the launch of Create Your Own, purchasers may add more options to their collection, albeit at a higher initial cost.
Emphasis of the Modern Line over Historical Characters
With Mattel's purchase of the line, the modern line and the Girls of the Year line have received more emphasis--they have the most space in catalogs and in stores and while outfits come out multiple times a year for modern dolls, Historical characters originally only received small releases of items or a lack of new items for extended time periods. Some stores are laid out to overemphasize the modern line, giving them more space.
This has sometimes been interpreted as the reason for diminished items and collections for all Historical Characters (which were the initial reason for the creation of American Girl) and that since modern characters no longer push a historical aspect, they are seen as a lot more transitional toys or status items instead of educational.
With the launch of BeForever and continued new Historical characters, the Historical line is again getting emphasis and focus.
Many people have assumed, incorrectly, that modern dolls can be or were at some point during the line able to be purchased customized through the company or that any doll available is designed to specifically resemble children (particularly young white girls).
While a doll may resemble a child—especially if the child is female, light skinned and/or white, as there are more available options in those categories that have been released—American Girl did not offer any customized dolls for modern dolls before the release of the Create Your Own line in 2017. American Girl has never pushed the idea that any doll should specifically or exactly resemble the intended consumer and encourages character creation beyond the resemblance of the end consumer.
Outside of bald dolls (which are offered to sympathize with conditions causing hair loss), ear piercings, and hearing aids, dolls only are sold as-is outside of the Create Your Own Line. Furthermore, highly customized dolls cannot be repaired through the American Girl Hospital; if there are signs a doll has been customized heavily outside of the company, then the doll will be returned unrepaired and considered unable to be repaired.
During the era when the line was called Just Like You, this misinterpretation was even more prominent and still lingers. However, "Just Like You" was more accurately targeted to emphasize that the doll's characterization, era, and/or personality could resemble the consumer—thus being just like them in that way—and not the features specifically.
The Create Your Own line is and has been the only separately customizable line available from American Girl.
- Girls of the Year, the limited edition named character dolls
- Contemporary Characters, a short-lived line of modern characters from 2017 to 2018
- Create Your Own, the customizable line of modern characters
- Miss AG Bear, a toy bear aligned with the line early
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 This Wiki was started in 2008, when this was the name of the line. Rather than have to systematically change the name of hundreds of articles with every name change, we continue to use the obsolete name. See Category:Just Like You for more details.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 American Girl's confirmation on non-customization on the official Twitter account.
- ↑ Charms were generally not included with singular items (such as t-shirts), Purchase With Purchase items, underwear, or shoes.
- ↑ These charms are square, but with a hole in the center and text on all four sides; thus the charm displays rectangular.