01/10/2009 08:56 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Would You Buy Your Daughter A "Homeless Doll"?

I guess they do toys differently outside the UK. First there was the Spanish company who presented us with the breastfeeding doll. Now a toy manufacturer in America has produced the controversial homeless doll.

Aside from the fact that all toys are homeless until a child takes them home to love, what makes this doll different? Well, it's part of a range called American Girl, whose toys all come with their own unique back story. The range is designed to be sociologically accurate, with dolls reflecting various aspects of American history. They include African American, American Indian and Jewish dolls. And this latest doll's story is that she was homeless.

The Wisconsin-based company, whose website says that it celebrates girls and all they can be, has named the doll Gwen Thompson. Gwen's story, according to The New York Post, is decidedly modern - her father ran out on the family and her mother lost her job. By winter, the fatherless family were reduced to living in their car.

Also controversial is the fact that the doll retails at $95, or around £60. You would have to sell an awful lot of Big Issues to raise the money for one of these little ladies.

One thing that occurs to me about this toy is that if you are already naming a doll and dictating what its life story is, you are taking away the imaginative play potential. What happened to little girls naming their own dolls and making up their own stories?

And is homelessness really a suitable subject for play? Is it OK for children to know that sometimes life circumstances dictate that people like them end up living in cars?

What do you think? Is this doll a good idea to get children thinking about the issue of homelessness? Would you buy one for your daughter? Leave a comment below.

Source [ParentDish US]