5 Great Alternatives To American Girl Dolls

and they are all available in Canada!

by: Zeba Khan

5 Great Alternatives To American Girl Dolls

Although American Girl dolls are popular and well-made, there are many reasons why you may not want to purchase them for your child—ranging from their high price (with dolls starting at $130) to the fact that they're "American" rather than "Canadian." If you're in the market for an 18-inch play doll, here are 5 alternatives to an American Girl doll, all readily available in Canada.

1) Maplelea Dolls, $99.99, Maplelea Website:

Premium dolls with Canadian heritage, the Maplelea girls come from six different regions in Canadathe Rockies, rural prairies, urban Ontario, the Maritimes, Quebec, and northern Canada. Each doll comes with a keepsake journal introducing the doll and sharing facts about Canadian geography and culture. While these dolls are almost as pricey as American Girl dolls, their high quality and craftsmanship help justify the price, and they're definitely a more patriotic alternative!

Height: 18 inches.

2) Journey Girls, $39.99, Toys R Us:

The Journey Girls are six best friends who love to travel. They are beautifully made with very pretty faces and non-blinking eyes. They are slightly skinnier than American Girl dolls, so they will not fit into the same clothes.

Height: 18 inches.

3) Our Generation Dolls, $21, Target:

One of the most popular American Girl doll alternatives, these Target-exclusive dolls are very reasonably priced and come with a wide selection of outfits and accessories. While the overall doll quality is good, many reviewers complain that the hair gets tangled and matted quite easily.

Height: 18 inches.

4) Hearts for Hearts Girls, $33, Walmart/Canadian Tire/London Drugs:

Inspired by girls in different countries across the world, each doll comes with a story of how they want to help others around them. Not only do their stories encourage charitable work, $1 from the purchase price is donated to programs in that doll's region! These multi-cultural beauties represent a variety of countries, including Ethiopia, India, Laos, and Belarus.

Height: 14 inches.

5) Springfield Collection Dolls, $22, Michaels:

This range includes five dolls with a variety of hair colours and skin tones. They're very reasonably priced already, but with Micheals' frequent coupon offers, you can get them for an additional 40% off! These dolls are the perfect present for younger children who like the look of American Girl/Maplelea Girl dolls, but may not be ready to handle them with the care they require.

Height: 18 inches

Which of these five options is your favourite? Although they're slightly smaller than the rest, our family love the Hearts for Hearts doll—we've purchased several of them to give as birthday gifts.

If you want an American Girl doll rather than an alternative, they're now sold in Canada through a partnership with Indigo. Click here for a peek inside the Yorkdale American Girl Boutique.


Craving Some Plaid? Your Must-Have Shirt For Fall

Here are five cute options currently in stores!

by: Zeba Khan

Craving Some Plaid? Your Must-Have Shirt For Fall

Plaid shirts are the ultimate Fall staple—not only do they keep you warm once temperatures drop, they're endlessly versatile! You can wear them tucked into pencil skirts, buttoned down over jeans, or even tied around your waist.

I bought my red plaid shirt from Old Navy last Fall, and wore it non-stop through the colder months. I've worn it with jeans and rainboots, layered under a cable-knit sweater, and paired with leggings and a vest. 

If you're on the lookout for a plaid shirt, here are five great options currently in store—ordered from lowest price to highest:

1) Plaid Boyfriend Shirt, $19, Joe Fresh

Super affordable with a classic print. Love how it looks paired with white jeans.

2) Plaid Flannel Boyfriend Shirt, $23 (sale), Old Navy

Blue and White Buffalo Plaid—would look great with black leggings.

3) Flannel Plaid Boyfriend Shirt, $34.90, Garage

Don't be put off by its teenage demographic, Garage clothing is really well made and suitable for all ages—you just have to steer clear of the logos and look for classic pieces, like this shirt!

4. Button-Down Shirt in Suckered Plaid, $39.50, J.Crew Factory

My favourite of these five, I love the pink and red print, it's so cheerful!

5. Plaid Henley Blouse, $63.06, LOFT

An elegant take on the plaid shirt, with a delicate print and muted colours.

Do you crave plaid in the fall? What's your favourite way of wearing a plaid shirt?

For more styling ideas, check out this post on How to work the Graphic tee trend. And for fall outfit inspiration, check out Kate Beckinsale and Reese Witherspoon.



5 Self-Esteem Conversations You Need To Have With Your Girl

And why I never want self-esteem to be an obstacle for my daughter

by: Zeba Khan

5 Self-Esteem Conversations You Need To Have With Your Girl

5 Self-Esteem Conversations You Need To Have With Your Girl

My parents recently brought some old albums out of storage. I flipped through the pages, eager to share them with my children and point out any similarities in our appearances. But as I studied the pictures, there was only one thing I could focus on: how deliriously happy I looked when I was aged 4 and under! It was a side of myself that I had completely forgotten — silly, animated and completely uninhibited. Looking at teeny me, I wondered — when was my carefree grin replaced with a downward glance and a shy smile? How did I get from there to here?

I'm a people-pleaser.

Did I notice that adults liked it better when I was quiet and docile?

Was it because I was the only South Asian child in my class and wanted to blend into the background instead of being different from the other kids?

Had I taken risks as a child and been scared off — realizing that it was safer to listen to grown-up advice than to follow my own impulses?

Figuring this out is especially important to me because I have a seven-year old daughter who mirrors me in many ways. And I’m happy with that — we’re thoughtful, super considerate of our loved ones, and we go out of our way to make sure everyone feels included in social situations. So yes, I want her to be like me. But I also want her to be MORE than me. I want her to retain her confidence and independence — I don’t want her sparkle to be dimmed.

I want to start building up her self-esteem at a young age — which means educating myself in the best ways to help my daughter. This is why I’m so happy to tell you about Dove's Be Your Beautiful Self Program.

Dove conducted global studies and found that 9 out of 10 girls want to change at least one aspect of their appearance, and that 6 out of 10 girls avoid participating in activities because they feel bad about their looks. Dove wants to help girls develop their body confidence and self-esteem, and have committed to a goal of reaching 15 million young people by the end of 2015.

As part of that social mission, Dove will be providing a series of Self-Esteem Workshops for mothers and daughters across Canada in October 2014, with YMC and #YMCCommunity Bloggers as hosts.

Some of the questions that will be covered in workshops — and that you can also discuss at home with your daughters include:

  1. Is there anything you wish you could change about yourself?
  2. How do you think your life would be different if this was changed?
  3. What activities make you happy?
  4. Do you know that the people we see in the media may have been physically and digitally altered?
  5. Do you know what is unique and special about you?

These conversation starters help promote discussion around the idea that we shouldn't have to fit a certain mould to be happy — and to be hyper-aware that many images seen in the media are neither attainable or realistic. It's so important for children to understand that with digital images: Nobody looks like that! Even the person in the picture doesn't really look like that!

This is perfectly demonstrated in Dove's award-winning Evolution video, which illustrates how a person's image is cosmetically and digitally altered before being used in advertising:

I look forward to hosting a Dove Self-Esteem workshop and getting the chance to discuss these important issues with other mothers and daughters. It took time for my confidence to re-emerge — it's only in my 30s that I've become more willing to take on risks and challenges. Motherhood and blogging have helped me overcome my self-consciousness — I'm no longer afraid to stand out or be different. Hopefully, by focusing on self-esteem from a young age, my daughter will always feel strong and this will never be an obstacle for her.

Visit our 'self-esteem resource page' for helpful info on how to talk with your daughter about real beauty and self-esteem.

We need you to be a part of the Dove mission to improve the self-esteem of over 15 million girls by 2015.