What The Rebecca Rubin Doll Means For Real Jewish American Girls

rebeccarubin1Earlier this week details were revealed about Rebecca Rubin, the first Jewish American Girl doll, and the latest addition to the company’s steadily growing line of historical characters who hail from different ethnic backgrounds.

Like those who came before her, Rebecca’s figurine comes paired with a series of books that weave her fictional backstory into a real era of American history. In the case of 9-year-old Rebecca, the scene, partially based on the author Jacqueline Dembar Greene’s own family history, will be set in a row house on the Lower East Side in 1914 where she lives with her Jewish-Russian immigrant parents, her siblings and her grandmother known as Bubbie.

While the doll may fill another niche in a long line for the brand, Rebecca’s debut marks a significant moment for young Jewish American girls and women like me who don’t often get to see themselves in the commercial space. Especially in doll form. In part, because defining what a Jewish girl looks like can be such a touchy issue. Not only for the toy industry, but also within the culture where it’s increasingly common for girls to seek out surgical and cosmetic procedures to correct their “Jewish noses” or straighten their “Jewish hair.” Even girls who don’t fit the stereotype, can be made to feel uncomfortable about the Jewishness or lack thereof of their appearance with ambiguous comments like, “You don’t look Jewish.” (It’s been 23 years and I still don’t have a good comeback).

Although specific physical traits like these become non-issues with the brand’s uniform look, and many would agree that their inclusion would be unnecessary regardless, the mere visibility of a well-defined Jewish character makes a statement. A statement that’s further reinforced by the company’s years of extensive research, including…

 
 
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Quote of the Day: “My dream car has always been a Chevy Silverado. After I have paid off all of my debt including student loans I will save to pay cash for the truck I want. I have a 3 1/2 year plan to pay off my debt and if I then take the money I am paying towards my debts and keep saving I should be able to buy my truck 1 year after that.” –Female, 22, OR

The mall doesn’t hold the same place in American culture it did twenty years ago, but it may still play a role in teen shopping tastes. A Teen Vogue survey reports that teen girls still like shopping in malls, with 65% of 16-26-year-old females saying they will do the majority of their holiday shopping in store. The top reasons they preferred mall shopping to online were seeing products in person, hanging out with friends, and bonding with their moms. (Awww.) 61% say they create their own wishlists by walking through the mall as well. (Chain Store Age)

Start hoarding bourbon. In 2015, the smooth spirit will be more expensive, thanks in large part to its popularity with Millennial consumers. Domestic bourbon sales have increased 36% in five years, and some distilleries are rationing their bottles for the first time since Prohibition. How’s that for the power of the craft cocktail trend? Bacon, that perennially trendy meat, will also continue rise in price. (Deal News)

McDonald’s sales continue to fall, and their problems attracting young consumers have been well documented this year. The number of 19-21-year-olds visiting the chain every month has dropped by 13% since 2011. “Desperate to change its image,” the brand’s latest turnaround plan (is this plan E?) includes self-service kiosks, a trimmed down menu, and a search for a “big idea” that will appeal to young consumers’ interest in social good. (Business Insider)

What did Millennials read online this year? A lot of BuzzFeed. Digiday’s look at 2014 in Millennial media consumption found that 39 million 18-34-year-olds visited BuzzFeed at least once, but traditional publications online are also attracting these younger readers. Over 20 million visited The New York Times, and almost 8 million visited The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, some “self-proclaimed” Millennial sites like Ozy and Vocativ reportedly “actually attract an older crowd.” (Digiday)

A generation delaying getting married and having children is creating interesting cultural shifts, and some hilariously awkward family moments. When one twenty-something found herself as the only single sibling and was deemed too old to be on her parent’s holiday card, she began to make her own tongue-in-cheek cards “celebrating” her solo, childless status. These hilarious missives, featuring booze and uncomfortable scenes, have gone viral, and she has become a holiday hero of the unmarried. (Mashable)

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