FUNNY WOMEN #104: Providing Birth Control to American Girl Dolls


At American Girl®, our celebration of girls doesn’t end at puberty–and now neither does our product line! Our groundbreaking new Contraception Collection, the first installment in our series of Teenage Expansion Packs, provides a gentle lesson about reproductive responsibility, while also teaching girls about our culture’s rich and varied birth control history.

Kaya (Nez Perce tribe, Pacific Northwest, born 1755): When Kaya begins to take interest in the young men of her tribe, she seeks advice from the village medicine woman, who gives her a lesson about all manner of herbal remedies. Kaya’s Herb Garden ($32) includes sprigs of juniper, tansy, and viburnum, all of which are believed to have contraceptive powers. For a different approach, Kaya might also decide to plant skunkbush sumac, which can induce male impotence!

Felicity (Williamsburg, VA, born 1765): Now Felicity finally understands the purpose of those Sheep-gut Sheathes ($16) she’s seen her mother fashioning! She also knows, from whispered conversations during quilting bees, that it’s a good idea to drink the water from a Blacksmith’s Forge ($96) and to carry a Buckeye ($8) in her pocket. Of course, given Felicity’s natural tomboyishness and love of horses, it’s possible that birth control won’t prove to be an issue at all!

Josefina (outside Santa Fe, born 1815): Although Josefina does not have the benefit of traditional medical care, her love of nature, combined with the wisdom of her mother and aunts, provides a number of colorful alternatives! As long as she keeps her Gathering Basket ($23) full of supplies, she’ll be prepared to ingest the seeds from a stalk of Queen Anne’s Lace or insert half a lemon into her vagina. But even with these extra cautions, her friends remind her, she would be well-advised to employ the tried-and-true method of jumping up and down after intercourse!

Cecile (New Orleans, born 1843): Don’t be naive–Cecile knows more about birth control than you do! For a real education, take a peek into her Vanity Table ($80), where she keeps her collection of French safes, womb veils, toilet vinegars, and male caps.

tumblr_m23jdsWOXq1qaz106o1_400Kirsten (Minnesota, born 1845): Given her community’s early marriage rates (and of course those long Minnesota winters), Kirsten needs some tricks up her sleeve if she wants to avoid having a new baby each year!  Kirsten’s Diary ($14) is the perfect place for her to record her kinfolk’s suggestions, such as long-term breastfeeding and the ingestion of laundry starch ($6). She can also use the diary to keep track of her “monthly visitor,” so that she can limit intercourse to her “safe times,” which are believed to occur between days 12 and 17 of her menstrual cycle.

Molly (Jefferson, IL, born 1934): Molly is a modern girl and is eager to be well-informed about “the birds and the bees”! Her friends have already notified her that a woman can’t get pregnant the first time she has sex, or any time that she and her beau achieve congress while standing up. For extra security, she’s filled her Hope Chest ($72) with supplies: a box of rubber condoms, and bottles of Coca-Cola and Lysol for emergency douching.

Julie (San Francisco, born 1966): Julie is lucky to live in a time and place that offers her so many different options! Julie’s Sampler Pack ($29) includes a month’s worth of birth control pills in a handsome plastic compact, a diaphragm, a cervical cap, and a box of flavored condoms. Also included are a miniature copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves, a prescription for Plan-B, a 5-speed vibrator shaped like a dolphin for alone times, and a list of local Planned Parenthood locations. Or spend a day at the American Girl Store and Cafe! After styling Julie’s hair and piercing her ears, our “Doll Doctors” will be happy to take her into the back to be fitted for a Dalkon Shield.

Nevaeh (Coming soon: Texas, Girl of the Year, 2014): It sure is tough to be a girl in Texas these days, where an estimated 130,000 “American Girls” are without basic, preventive health care due to drastic cuts to women’s health care funding, but Nevaeh’s perky resourcefulness will always help her to get by! Nevaeh’s Becoming A Woman Kit ($15) includes a purity ring, a family planning guide, a signed photo of Rick Perry, a condom stolen from her older brother’s dresser, some contraband tampons, a free gun, anti-rape underpants, and the address of a pharmacy just across the border that sells pills to “make your period come.” Giddy up!


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Carolyn Parkhurst is the author of three novels—The Dogs of Babel, Lost and Found, and The Nobodies Album—as well as a children's book, Cooking With Henry and Elliebelly. She lives in Washington, D.C. You can visit her at and follow her on Twitter at @cparkhurst1. More from this author →