You might have been holding onto your old American Girl dolls in the hopes that you can cash out on them as “vintage collectors’ items” like your prized old Beanie Babies. But snapping a pic of them with the right caption can also help you strike meme gold. The golden age of American Girl doll memes is finally upon us.
Following a similar format to the “We need a Disney princess who...” memes of recent years, the American Girl doll meme welcomes some inventive take on the historical contexts of American Girl dolls. Sure, Kirsten Larson may have given us her firsthand experience of the pioneer era, but where is the American Girl doll whose cow accidentally caused the Great Chicago Fire of 1871?
As drastic changes in the course of American history occur in real time, the American Girl meme has gained a newfound resonance. Whether you’re ready to use a headshot of American Revolution-era Felicity Merriman to channel your anger for good, or just need some humor to cope with the reality of being an IRL American Girl, here’s everything you need to know about the viral American Girl doll meme.
American Girl Doll Memes, Explained
According to Distractify, the “We need an American Girl doll who...” meme template was first created by the Instagram page @hellicity_merriman (like Felicity, get it?) The page began posting general American Girl-themed memes in February 2022 and then started the “We need an American girl doll who…” memes in May. But American Girl dolls had been steadily gaining popularity before that: Other pages, such as @klit.klittredge, have been posting random text over images of American Girl dolls (think, “not to brag but I just drank a full glass of water”) since 2021.
At first, the trend mostly highlighted the lack of American Girl dolls present for historical events like the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
Eventually, the trend quickly advanced to pop culture history. The internet woke up to the many gaps in American Girl doll coverage. Where was the whistleblower American Girl doll? The American Girl doll who cried when Nick Jonas was diagnosed with diabetes? And what about the American Girl doll who ate a Tide pod?
On TikTok, users created their own riffs. User @inbloombyemily began posting extremely millennial American Girl doll memes in late June. This TikTok, which has over 160 thousand likes, captures the essence of what it was like to go to college in 2016, down to the soundtrack of “Panda” by Desiigner.
American Girl doll memes achieved a new level of virality, however, after the Supreme Court voted on June 24 to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that protected a person’s right to an abortion. Some images used Julie, an American Girl doll representing the 1970s, to highlight the states where reproductive rights had returned to pre-1973 status. Others juxtaposed text criticizing the Supreme Court justices in the majority of the 6-3 decision with an image of a slightly smiling American Girl doll.
Soon, the internet was overrun with memes about what American Girl doll characters would think about the Supreme Court’s decision.
“American Girl? Wish I wasn’t,” read another.