Soultiply Blog

Lessons Learned as a Tacky American Girl

Lessons Learned as a Tacky American Girl | Soultiply with Brittany Ritcher

I can be pretty tacky sometimes.

Last year I went to Walt Disney World and wore my visor and bright, white tennis shoes with pride.

During high school, every Spirit Week we had a dress up day where everyone wore their tackiest outfit. I would go ALLLL out – pig tails, mismatching clothes, crazy makeup, fanny pack and high-waisted pants. I would nervously sit in the car with my mother before school started, watching the kids go in and out of the building…and not a SINGLE ONE would be dressed for the occasion. My eyes would well up in tears…how could I possibly go to class looking like this if no one else dressed up too?! Did everyone forget it was Tacky Day over the weekend?! I was distraught. Inevitably someone would dress up and I wouldn’t feel as bad.

Sometimes it’s tough to be tacky.

But that’s not the type of tacky I’m talking about right now. Tacky stands for much more than outdated hairstyles and gaudy jewelry. After reading this post, you’ll be proud to call yourself tacky too.

Tacky stands for T ime, A ttention, C are, K indness &… Y ou!

You can breathe a sigh of relief…it’s now cool to be tacky!

When you are tacky, you validate others. You give the people around you a voice, a way to express themselves and be heard. Give everyone you meet the time, attention, care & kindness they deserve…and that includes you too! Be tacky and you can create miracles.

I learned how to be “tacky” when I worked at American Girl one summer during college.

For my sister and I growing up, our love for dolls didn’t just span our Barbie playing years . No, American Girl Dolls brought us closer together during our teens. Not because we played with them (although we did while we were younger – I had Samantha and she had Kirsten), but because we both worked at the American Girl Place in Atlanta. I was a server at the American Girl Bistro and she was a hostess.

The American Girl Bistro was a kid-friendly (meaning messy) restaurant that tried to act like a fancy establishment. That basically meant that we served over-priced food and had to wear itchy white button down shirts and ties.

Real cute.

But what our outfits lacked in cuteness, the American Girl restaurant made up in sparkle. Humungous flowers hung from the ceiling. Oversized pink booths covered the restaurant floor, while vibrant patterned barstools surrounded the ice cream sundae counter. Even though I was in my early twenties the first time I stepped inside, I couldn’t help but feel a little giddy. It was a perfectly pink paradise!

I learned that the key to pleasing a family at the American Girl Doll restaurant was to place all the attention on the daughter and her doll. I actually received specific American Girl doll training. I had to know the stories and backgrounds of every doll and be able to recognize each one, even if the doll’s hair resembled a tangled bird’s nest or she was missing an eye.

The moment you turned to a girl and said,

“Hello! What is your name? I see that you brought Addy to eat with you today!”

and her eyes widened and a big smile washed across her face, you couldn’t help but fall in love with your job.

The parents loved you for this. Oftentimes they bought the dolls and were then incapable of having an intelligent conversation about the American Girl brand with their child. I can’t tell you how many times I took a good solid ten minutes to have an in-depth conversation with a young girl about how the Kit movie didn’t do her justice, or if Molly really needed to wear her glasses. The parents would watch in amazement. I think they were surprised to see that their young daughters had such strongly formulated opinions and were able to articulate their passions. These dolls weren’t just play-things; they were a means for girls to develop into gifted young women.

The next step was to treat the doll as an equal. That meant doll food, folks. Yes, actual food that you “feed” to your doll. The doll already had a specialty chair that clipped on to the side of the table, so _MG_0407 food was the natural next step. We had hundreds of mini muffins back in the kitchen just for this purpose. Bringing over a small tray with doll food was always the highlight of my time with the table. Yes, it’s ridiculous, but it’s fun. It makes sense. Why would your doll not be able to eat at the AMERICAN GIRL DOLL RESTAURANT?! I would use my signature line (it always got a chuckle from the parents) …

“Wow, I guess Felicity must be hungry from sitting in that box for so long! Thank goodness (this was the south…) you brought her to the restaurant. Here is a muffin just for her!”

The little girl would always be amazed that you cared just as much as she did about her doll.

Then, I waited for the inevitable. About ten minutes later I would come back over to the table and notice that the muffin was missing. I would say to the girl,

“Wow! Your American Girl doll must be really hungry!”

The little girl would snicker and her parents would smile.

Then I always waited for what I knew would come next. I would walk away from the table and hear the little girl shout from excitement,

“Mom! Mom! Mom! She thought that my doll ate the muffin! Ahhahaha!”

I loved how these little girls always thought that they pulled one over on me. It was just so innocent. It’s just a matter of time before those same little girls start texting and slathering their lips with Bonnie Bell and frying their hair. For this moment in time, it was okay to think that you duped a waitress into believing that your doll ate a muffin.

I made two promises to myself when I worked there: Always believe that dolls can eat muffins and never zone out while singing Happy Birthday.

Singing Happy Birthday was at least a half-hour occurrence at American Girl. Naturally it was a hot birthday party spot for girls ages 4 to 10 years old. Every girl wanted to celebrate at this special place, so it was our job to make it a day to remember.

Sometimes that isn’t the easiest thing to do. You’ve been on your feet for the past five hours with hardly anything to eat, ketchup most likely found its way into very uncomfortable places, and you have a table with a set of two year old triplets; singing Happy Birthday is the last thing you really want to do at that moment.

But, it’s her birthday. If you don’t chipper up, she will remember your foul mood for years to come.

I remember the day when I was eight years old and I visited the American Girl Store in Chicago. I was in awe of that store – it was like my storybooks came to life right before my eyes. If I can remember that day crystal clear, then I can only imagine what it would feel like to have a birthday party at American Girl. It’s pretty much the most exciting day of your life and I was never going to ruin that. Each rendition of “Happy Birthday” was just as special than the next.

A useful tip that my sister taught me was the way that American Girl accepted all people (and dolls) with open arms. As a hostess, she had to be careful to make sure and regard every doll that came into the restaurant as an American Girl, even if the doll was a Target knock-off. Many parents couldn’t afford the high price of an actual American Girl doll (they run about one hundred and twenty bucks a pop), so they got their daughter a look-alike in hopes that she wouldn’t notice. The intention was true, so we did our best to honor that. It was a great lesson to learn. Usually the girls who didn’t own the real American Girl dolls appreciated the trip to the store and restaurant more than the girls who did. Just an observation…

And as I learned, sometimes being tacky can be difficult – obstacles can stand in your way.

At American Girl – it was the music. The music they played over the loud speakers should be used in torture prisons. They played this specialty CD on repeat all day and it was filled with the most obnoxious songs known to man. They were all recorded especially for American Girl and it included such hits as, “Circle of Friends”, “Rainbow”, and “Birthday Party: Celebrate!” You heard those songs in your sleep. My best day at American Girl was when management misplaced the CD and they ended up having to play Kidsbop all day. Do you realize what it feels like to be overjoyed listening to Kidsbop ?!

Forever an American Girl.

Growing up, I was always the kid that was acutely aware of when I was being treated differently because of my age . I had always been mature, and I didn’t appreciate being talked down to or disqualified because of my short stature. And that’s what being tacky is all about. It’s giving everyone you meet a voice – a reason to be heard.

Take the time.

You know how wonderful it feels to spend hours upon hours sitting in Starbucks with a good friend, recounting the old times and catching up on the new? The employees are kicking you out of the café because it’s closing time, so you and your friend decide to talk for another few hours in your car instead. The time passes so quickly, you just don’t want the evening to end.

That time is so valuable and is filled with so much love. Life is meant for moments like that – and we have the power and choice to give them freely.

Fifty years from now, are you going to remember the belly laughs or the project deadlines?

Attention is another wonderful gift.

Put down the phone. At dinner, it does not need to be on the table. Honestly, I’m not BFFs with your phone – I’m BFFs with you and I’m not interested in threesomes! Being present with the people that you encounter on a day-to-day basis is a phenomenal gift. Silence the distractions and really BE there for someone.

Care about the things that others care about…or at least make an effort to learn more about them.

When you talk to other people about THEIR passions, it will ignite a passion within you.

I swear, I know more about Economics than I ever thought possible, mainly because I have a genius boyfriend who shares his passion with me.

And if you truly offer your time, attention, and care to others…your kindness will speak in volumes.

You are kind when you hold that person up, when you show them that they are worthy. Make them aware that you see something in them that needs to be shared with the world.

But most of all, give time, attention, care, and kindness to YOU .

They are the ingredients that fuel you, so that you can share yourself with others. If you are depleted of these essential components, you will run yourself down and wear yourself out.

You deserve that bubble bath.

Pay attention to how you feel and take the time to make things better.

Stress and worry don’t belong in your being.

Look into the mirror and be kind to yourself. The person staring back at you is worth SO much.

It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of time and attention that others place upon us…( the deadline for this presentation is Wednesday…take the dog to the vet …scrub down the bathroom…cure world hunger…learn to fly… AHHHH it’s too much – I can’t take it anymore! )

Why don’t we take some time and attention for ourselves? Schedule it in if you have to! Lord knows I do… If I don’t physically write “ME TIME” in my calendar, it won’t happen.

I am tacky to myself and others because I remember what it felt like to be invited to the “adults” table at Thanksgiving. Because I had teachers in high school that spent their early mornings before class helping me prep for my college auditions. Because I have mentors that have stayed by my side through thick and thin, guiding me along the way. I saw myself in every young woman who walked through those bright pink doors at American Girl. This was their moment to shine. And you shine a little brighter when someone gives you the time of day; when they give you the gift of time, attention, care and kindness.

Who in your life has given you the time and place to shine? In what ways do you plan on being tacky to others? Please share with me by commenting on this post below- I’d love to hear! blog banner real size

Brittany Ritcher Lessons Learned as a Tacky American Girl

Related Posts