American girls just want to have fun
Brookside Country Club hosts a series of fashion show fundraisers for children’s hospital
By Jennifer Alfred 03/26/2009
Whatever our background and no matter where we live, girls really do just want to have fun. It’s in that spirit that the Flintridge Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has found a way for local girls to have fun and help their community at the same time. For each of the past 14 years, the group has held American Girl fashion shows in which daughters and granddaughters of guild members model American Girl clothing as their audiences enjoy a delicious meal.
This year’s shows happen Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Brookside Country Club in Pasadena and, as with all funds raised by the guild, event proceeds support the hospital.
For those unfamiliar with the American Girl phenomenon, it is a line of books, dolls and clothing based on fictional 9- or 10-year-old girls who are grappling with difficult situations, often based in American history: Molly has to deal with her dad and aunt leaving for World War II; Kirsten is forbidden from playing with her Indian friend on the prairie. Girls can dress in clothing made to match their dolls of these story characters.
“American Girl was started as the antithesis to Barbie. They wanted to teach girls about history, but in a different way. They can dress like, cook like and learn about their favorite girl,” said Savonia Angelica, a member of the Flintridge Guild and organizer of the fashion show.
The idea for the charity fashion show began 15 years ago when Angelica and her daughter tried to purchase tickets for an American Girl Fashion Show in Long Beach but found them sold out. As dedicated collectors of the dolls and books, they decided to put on their own show with girls from the guild.
“Our goal is to empower girls and show them that it’s not what you wear that makes you beautiful – it’s what you do to help others around you,” said Angelica, who reports that girls in the shows have opened lemonade stands for charity, run bone-marrow drives and have even raised money for children in Nicaragua. “It’s about what they can do to make a difference in the world. This period in history is their time to shine, and by participating in the show they are helping those who need it.”
The American Girl brand, which has sold more than 14 million dolls and 100 million books since it was founded by educator Pleasant Rowland in 1986, lends historic and contemporary clothing to groups for charity events such as this, but the Flintridge Guild takes things one step further: They invite patients to join the show.
“They [the Children’s Hospital patients] are really happy to see us, and we take pictures and talk with them,” said Hannah Docherty, a seventh-grader who has been participating in the show for seven years and has followed up with many of the patients she meets. “Some of their stories are really sad, and it’s good to know that they made it through and survived.”
Guild shows are extremely interactive. One lucky girl in the audience will win Chrissa, this year’s American Girl doll. In Chrissa’s story, she moves to a new town, stands up to the school bully and inspires her classmates to do the same — all tying into a theme of “Friends Stand Together.” In addition to the Chrissa doll, the winner will also get to walk the runway and go backstage with the models.
“Even girls who have never modeled before come up on stage and it seems like they’ve been doing it all their lives. It is such an intimate warm event that they feel comfortable,” said Angelica, whose granddaughter is performing in this year’s show. “The show is geared right to their age level. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, and everyone is within two tables of the runway.”
The show also involves other activities, such as learning to sit properly for tea and to curtsey, and this year even yoga will be taught from the stage. Girls and their dolls can get their hair done together and can go shopping at a boutique. Audience members design place mats and make activity kits for kids at Children’s Hospital.
“The show is really fun and it feels good to be up in the runway. Its good to see all the little girls smiling up at you,” said seventh-grader Sarah Stephens, who’s favorite American Girl doll is Samantha, a girl growing up in the early 1900s. “Being in the show has made me think more about things that are going on, and it makes me feel good that we’re raising money for kids who need help.”
There are seven American Girl Fashion Shows this weekend at the Brookside Country Club, 1133 N. Rosemont Ave., Pasadena. Dinner is served for $40 during a Friday evening show, and there will be shows at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday for $35, each including tea, sandwiches, fruit and sweets. Call (818) 952-7978.