This summer I finally bit the bullet. I have stared longingly at ever BeForever Samantha since she was released. I have a Samantha, my very first doll in fact, but she’s an infuriating blend of “old” and “not actually my childhood doll.” As a teenager, I sent my PC 1994 Samantha to the doll hospital because her hair was a total rat’s nest. She came back with an early Mattel head which has faded over time. So I lack the total attachment to her I ought to have with my childhood doll, but there’s enough attachment there that I haven’t found myself able to just get rid of her! The thought seems beastly. It just seems so unfair to pass her along or stick her in the closet when she’s the doll who started it all, the doll who’s stuck with me all these years, even if its not her true head…
Yes, I’ve thought about hunting down a 1994 Samantha on eBay. But that would still leave me with the question of what to do with this Samantha. I’ve debated this back and forth for like two years by this point, and this summer saw someone getting rid of their BeForever Samantha at a steal. So I brought her home and figured I’d decide what to do with her once I had her in hand. Maybe the old doll would get rewigged as a different girl and this girl would become Samantha. Maybe having the new girl would awaken an appreciation in me for the old. Maybe I’d love the new one so much I could retire the old one to the closet until I decided what to do.
Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, the nostalgic collector in me won out. After a couple months of continuing to debate, and trading their clothes, and trying to force myself to make a call… everyone stays. Old Samantha maintains her reign as old Samantha. BeForever Samantha just looks too shiny and modern next to my old Nellie doll. She and Nellie were… a bit stiff with each other, to be honest.
But BeForever Samantha can’t go either! She’s one of the dolls I most like to just stare at. She’s so pretty. She actually instills a strong childhood nostalgia in me, perhaps because as a little girl I switched my Samantha back and forth in time with ease. So I decided to make her a sort of representative of my childhood after all. I briefly thought about actually making her a 90s doll and dressing her in only the clothing I remember seeing in the American Girl catalog as a kid… but let’s be honest, the 90s were not a prime time for fashion. While I would kind of love a quirky, spunky 90s doll, this doll felt to dainty and pretty to be forced into that roll.
So instead… she’s just a sort of stand-in for young me. She likes the things I liked as a child –writing, gymnastics, reading Animorphs, etc. I dress her in whatever the hell I want. Personality-wise, she’s creative and bossy and out-going like I was.And she makes me happy to look at, like some little innocent, uncomplicated part of my childhood got preserved through this doll who didn’t actually live it, unlike my beat up old Samantha who shows her stains and scars, haha.
And she’s named Annabel, not only because I would have found a haunted doll fascinating as a kid, but because my mom always called me Jessica Annabel when I was being goofy, even though my middle name is only Anne and I go by Jessa now.