Growing up with two older sisters, I was exposed to growing up early and what female development looked like. It was not a shock for me when I stumbled upon a large white book in third grade by American Girl. Flipping through the pages, I was exposed to what was going to happen to me in the coming years.
Covering everything from acne, periods and knowing good from bad, “The Care and Keeping of You” book was a learning tool for myself and many of my friends.
American Girl first released “The Care and Keeping of You” in the late 90s, during a prevalent era of feminism and empowerment for women. With many women putting themselves first, music, art and websites provided women with a platform to express self-empowerment and self-expression.
American Girl paved the way for young girls to ask questions about their bodies and not feel the stress of uncertainty about puberty and growing up. The book emphasized the idea that everything girls will go through is normal and expressed each stage with cartoon drawings to show teens what would happen over time.
Since its release in the 90s, American Girl has updated the material to cater to problems that young girls are facing while growing up with social media. “The Care and Keeping of You 2” features even more diverse illustrations than the original and focuses on mental health as well as all the other materials that were in the original book.
How does “The Care and Keeping of You” relate to sex education? That was a question I asked myself when I was in elementary and middle school. How can a book written by a doll company relate to this? The state of Michigan mandates HIV education for students, but allows individual districts to create sex education materials, like Grosse Pointe Schools teaching abstinence.
I wonder, why did I need to watch the stages of pregnancy in seventh-grade health class, but not talk about my emotional changes? Well, that’s where American Girl came in.
They saw what public schools were teaching, and they were able to answer and fill in the gaps that education systems missed. My questions were finally answered, and I am thankful for the resources American Girl provides. They were there to make sure young girls knew they were going to go on an emotional roller coaster and helped so many girls not be afraid of what was going to happen next in life.