If you're a kid of the '90s, you remember American Girl dolls. You probably associated the dolls – each from a different period of US history – and their accompanying books with horses, frolicking, and tales of best friendship. They're fun, easy-to-read stories about plucky young girls learning life lessons and wearing oldey-timey dresses. What possible hardships could a range of '90s toys aimed at young girls have faced? As it turns out, a ton.
Take another read of those cute little books, and you'll notice so many disturbing things about American girl dolls. Messed up American Girl doll stories include such horrifying details as slavery, kidnapping, child labor, frozen corpses, attempted horse murder, cholera, and poverty. Not to mention the existential terror brought about by war. Kids love that stuff!
When we say we're talking the darkest stories from American Girls, we mean daaaark. It's a miracle an entire generation wasn't traumatized. Let's revisit some of the more horrifying story elements that, while historically accurate, are kind of a heavy read.
Addy Has To Escape Slavery
Addy's backstory may take the cake for being the most horrifying. One word: slavery. At the beginning of Meet Addy, she and her family are about to escape enslavement. But just as you think they're all going to get out together, her brother and father are sold off to another slave owner. Holy sh*t!
On top of that, Addy gets whipped, is forced to eat live worms, and has to leave her baby sister behind after she escapes with her mother. It's a grim look at the reality of slavery; just because the story is for kids doesn't mean it gets sugarcoated.
Kirsten's Best Friend Dies Of Cholera
Kirsten's story might seem dull on paper: she's a 19th century immigrant and a pioneer, trekking around with her Swedish family. Doesn't sound like a thrill a minute. But hold up – Kirsten's story gets real dark real quick when her friend Marta dies of cholera on the crossing to America. On top of that, Kirsten only discovers she's died when she stumbles across her coffin on deck.
Samantha's Best Friend Is A Child Factory Worker
Victorian orphan Samantha is part of the 1% of the American Girl universe, and she's constantly perplexed by the 99% that are outside her wealth bracket. Her money makes her totally oblivious. Remember Samantha's best friend Nellie? This girl works grueling shifts in a factory for measly pay. On top of that, Samantha doesn’t even think to share her wealth until the end of the first book and leaves Nellie hanging for much of the story.
Felicity Nearly Sees A Horse Killed In Front Of Her
A horse nearly gets murdered in cold blood during Meet Felicity – an absolutely brutal thing to put in a book for little girls. Jiggy Nye, the villain of the piece and would-be horse murderer, hates animals and strong-willed colonial girl Felicity. He starves his horses half to death and leaves them outside in the harsh winter months. He hates Felicity so much that he threatens to kill his own horse right in front of her if she doesn't stop hanging around his animals.
Don't worry – Felicity helps the horse, named Penny, escape. It's traumatizing nonetheless.