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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“As a graphic designer, without the arts being available to me in school I would have been lost as a child and where to take my career path. The fact that schools are cutting art programs is heartbreaking.”—Female, 24, NJ

Applebee’s is putting down the sriracha and giving up on trying to appeal to Millennials. The brand has decided their newer menu items—like a “triple pork bonanza” sandwich—and attempt at a “modern bar and grill” reinvention has “alienate[d]” Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re shutting down more than 130 restaurants and bringing back initiatives from before their attempted “pendulum swing towards millennials,” all-you-can-eat specials and 2-for-$20 deals. Other brands are creating new spin off chains to appeal to fast-casual lovingMillennials, that “[lack] the associated baggage of the old.” (Inc, NPR)

Adults-only ball pits, bouncy houses, and giant slides are sweeping the U.K. Millennials seeking a break from adulthood are flocking to places like Wacky World’s “massive bouncy-castle obstacle course,” which started out as a children’s event. The founder received so many requests that now every event has an 18-and-over slot, and has expanded to 19 cities. This “trend for arrested development activities” is caused by nostalgia, but the influx of marketing and branding leveraging the emotion could be popularizing these playgrounds for adults. (The Guardian)

Facebook is responding to the trend of asking for birthday charitable donations by integrating it right into the platform. Users in the U.S. can now trade in all the “HBD”s they get on Facebook for donations to the cause of their choice: well-wishers will be notified of the birthday along with the selected non-profit, and get the chance to donate. Facebook will ask users which charity they wish to dedicate their day to two weeks in advance, allowing them to choose from 750,000 organizations. (TNW)

Appear Here is the Airbnb of pop-up shops, giving brands their perfect temporary store for the new era of retail. The company finds short term retail space, and has worked with big-name brands like Nike and Net-a-Porter to open “experimental activations” or “test new products.” As brick-and-mortar continues to suffer and long-term stores close, Appear Here says physical retail is still needed, but to “tell a story.” The pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2015, and provides a more low-risk, flexible option to avoid the retail wasteland. (Glossy)

Millennials & Gen Z are turning a profit online and on mobile by re-selling their retail. Thredup, Poshmark, and Depop are just a few of the most popular brands cashing in on the resale economy’s $18 billion market, and some shoppers say they are making $300 a week on the platforms. Some are also using social to sell, often in conjunction with apps or sites, including Snapchat, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. College students on a budget are reportedly especially drawn to resale, thanks to convenience, value, and access to luxury at a lower price. (FN)

“Adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

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