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As a young, single British guy crossing the Atlantic for a career in the United States, I was extremely curious about the dating life that was in store. After all, I'd watched my fellow countrymen in film and literature charm the hell out of beautiful American women. If a bumbling buffoon like Hugh Grant could steal Julia Roberts' heart in Notting Hill, anything was possible. It was the summer of 2006 when I first landed in New York as a 19-year-old, laden with warnings about American girls: they're high maintenance, my friends told me.
I tried to brush this off—preconceptions are always dangerous when entering any sort of relationship. Still, when I met my first girlfriend in 2007, a ballerina who had recently moved from San Francisco, I was immediately taken aback by an overarching obsession with status and money. She had a vision of the man she was going to marry: tall, dark, handsome, and a millionaire.
After all, as she put it, "dancers don't make a lot of money." I wasn't the guy that could spoon feed her, so it ended. But surely not all American girls thought British men had an endless supply of money? They weren't all obsessed with fame and fortune, were they? Was American culture really as shallow as my friends had warned?
"I landed in New York laden with warnings about American girls: they're high maintenance, my friends told me." Six months later, I met the girl of my dreams. She was a down-to-earth Midwesterner with ambitions in New York City theater. She shattered any preconceived notion I had about both actors and American women. She was the antithesis of the ballerina; insisting she pave her own journey in life, irrespective of who she was with.
Sadly, when we were suddenly thrust into a long distance relationship, the reality set in that it was putting too much stress on our careers. So with a heavy heart, it was the end of a fairytale love affair. Since then, I've spent six years dating American women in the search for "the one". They have come from all different backgrounds, worked in vastly different careers, lived in both New York and Los Angeles; and if there's one thing I can tell you, it's that the stereotype of British girls being more well-mannered is actually false.
American girls—in my experience—carry themselves elegantly; sometimes so much so that it feels rehearsed. Recently, I went on two dates in New York within the space of a week, one with a Brit, the other with an American.
The Brit eerily reminded me of myself—she ate quickly, washed her food down with beer, and generally wasn't too concerned about how she might look to the outside world, let alone me. The American, with seemingly impeccable etiquette, ate slowly and cautiously, ensuring the kale salad she was munching on didn't wrap around her big, pearly white teeth. On the contrary, British girls have no shame picking kale salad out of their teeth on a date.
It just took me a while to realize that this might have nothing to do with etiquette at all, but rather, it might be because American women are more anxious than British women. They worry more about their appearance, political correctness and how others perceive them. There is more emphasis on "keeping up appearances," especially on the West Coast where I have been living for the past six months.
Similarly, American girls are much more lavish in their approach to life; and this includes the restaurants and hotels they expect to be taken to. Money and salary is brought up frequently, and name dropping is prevalent in a good portion of conversations, especially in Los Angeles where status is paramount. British girls, meanwhile, do not spend the same amount of money on themselves as American girls, nor do they expect you to spend a lot on them. "American women worry more about their appearance, political correctness and how others perceive them." In Britain, we are self-deprecating to the point where we convince ourselves that we're utterly useless in life.
I've always loved this approach: under-sell, over deliver. This does not happen in American culture, where women rarely make fun of themselves. Which brings me to American girlfriend number five, who was paralyzed by her hoards of self-help books. Over-analyzing everything is more common in the U.S. than the UK. Where British women live in the moment, unafraid to admit their flaws, American women want to project an heir of success to the world.
American family dynamics is still something that remains a bit of a mystery to me. In the UK, girls are open with their parents about sex and dating. It is discussed far less frequently here. Girlfriend number three, who came from a conservative family, would often talk about the importance of transparency and honesty, but would lie to her parents about where she was staying, afraid of what they might think of her.
I've never known a British girl unable to openly talk about who she is sleeping with. I remember one girl I went out with from the UK whose mother knew all of her intimate details. It was a bit embarrassing when I finally met her, but hey, better be honest than conceal the truth?
They had an extremely strong relationship and it was based on honesty and openness. And while American girls find it hard to be upfront about their dating lives to parents, they are, somewhat confusingly, incredibly forward on dates when it comes to sex. On my first date with girlfriend number six, we went dancing before playing bocce in Brooklyn. It was a night full of spontaneity, which American girls—naturally outgoing and vivacious—have perfected. They know how to have a good time wherever they are, with a zest for life uncommon in British women.
American girls have a knack for making you feel like you have known them for years, even if you've just met them, which makes first dates much less awkward—compared to dating a more reserved British girl.
The biggest lesson I've learned, though, is that American men have set the bar so low, I may as well be Hugh Grant. I'm astounded by the men I see in bars who shamelessly approach women with no respect, like drooling dogs.
British women expect a man with top notch etiquette—an almost forgotten trait here. If I could teach American women one thing, it would be to raise their expectations. As I approach my 30th birthday, one thing has become clear: if I could combine the best of American and British women, she might just be the one.
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American Girl’s newest doll is … a boy? For the first time in its 31-year history, , a maker of pricey 18-inch dolls, is introducing a boy. His name: Logan Everett. With his perfect boy-band brown hair, hipster T-shirt and dark-wash jeans, it’s perhaps no surprise that in the American Girl world, Logan plays the drums in his friend Tenney Grant’s band.
But Logan’s appearance is certainly a change for the brand. The unveiling of Logan on Tuesday comes after nearly a year of rumors that the American Girl franchise was working on a boy doll. He is the latest push by Mattel, which acquired the Wisconsin-based doll maker for $700 million in 1998, to create more contemporary figures and stories for American Girl, and to further diversify the line of the dolls in hopes of improving sales.
Revenue was flat last year, at $570 million, after a long period of growth. Late last year, American Girl named its first limited-edition African American Girl of the Year, Gabriela McBride. Like most American Girl dolls, Gabriela costs $115. Image Logan Everett, the first boy doll from American Girl. Credit Mattel But Mattel has come under criticism in recent years for losing much of what made the original American Girl Dolls distinctive.
When the line was introduced in 1986, it became a huge hit for its historically accurate clothing and furniture, and stories told through the doll’s eyes of escaping slavery or living through the Depression. Pleasant Rowland, a former teacher and news anchor, imagined the line after visiting Colonial Williamsburg and coming up with the idea of teaching history through dolls. An early doll, Molly McIntire, wore braids and round glasses and was accompanied by a series of books that told of life during World War II.
Another doll, Addy Walker, was a 9-year-old born into slavery who escapes with her mother. A number of the historical dolls have been retired or archived in recent years as Mattel introduced more contemporary figures like Isabelle Palmer, who is studying ballet at a performing arts school, or Grace Thomas, a baker with a jaunty pink beret. A spokeswoman for Mattel, in an email statement, said the company remained committed to its historical characters. She said the company had introduced more historical figures in the past decade than at any other time in the company’s history, including, this week, Nanea, a 1940s Hawaiian growing up around the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
As for Logan, the spokeswoman said customers had long been asking for a boy doll. Some parents wanted a doll for their boys to play with, while girls were simply looking to diversify their collections. “In fact, we know many girls who have created their own boy dolls from our existing lines,” the spokeswoman wrote.