a Barbie girl in a hateful world

I am a Barbie girl, who has indeed lived in a Barbie world for a good portion of my life. Let me tell you about my experiences in this plastic (and sometimes battery powered) world.

Barbie was never just a slim body and pretty face to me. Sure, I wanted her to look cute in her mini-dresses and grab all the boys’ attention. But that wasn’t all I wanted for her. I wanted her to have a lot of money. I wanted her to work in an office building, drive a nice convertible, and have tons of parties that she didn’t have to clean up after. I wanted her to have good relationship with her mother without having to visit her more than once a week. When I got a little older, I even wanted her to have an “experimental night” with my Britney Spears doll who I pretended was just another ordinary gal because my mom could only afford to buy me a limited amount of dolls, so of course I had to get the limited edition Baby One More Time doll. I wanted Barbie to do it all and look good doing it (no pun intended).

Barbie had so many jobs. She was an astronaut, a doctor, a veterinarian, a chef, a teacher, a rock star, a gymnast, a mother, a princess, and so much more. I mean, she may have been all these things because of her white privilege, but still. We had to start somewhere, and I’m also not educated enough to talk about the lack of diversity with dolls and action figures in the 90s-00s. A lot of things were lacking diversity back then so let’s not narrow it down to Barbie dolls at this time.

I never stared at my Barbie doll and wished I was tall, skinny, and blonde. It might have been because for most of my life I was tall and skinny (but not blonde, until recently), but it was mainly because I just didn’t look at her that way. I saw her for her goals, achievements, and independence. Which is why whenever people talk about how Barbie isn’t a good toy for little girls, I get angry.

The girl did it all and had it all- which is what I really wanted. I wanted to have a job, a car, and a big house. I wanted the Ken in my life to be in the background of my life, not the breadwinner I had to get money from so I could go shopping. I wanted to be talented, educated, and rich like Barbie. Why didn’t people focus on that? I’ve come across so many articles and videos where people completely bash Barbie dolls, focusing on of her weight, figure, and skin tone… and all of it was completely understandable. I’m not taking Barbie’s side when it comes to body representation. But in a time where the media seems to only focus on a woman’s body, aren’t we all offenders if we’re ignoring what Barbie’s done for the world and paying more attention to her unrealistic measurements?

Look, I understand I have an unpopular opinion on this. I know there are studies that show Barbie’s body affects how little girls grow up with body image issues and all that. It’s not incorrect and I’m not saying it never happened. Maybe I’m one of a million girls who didn’t cry themselves to sleep because they didn’t have a flat stomach or almost D-cup sized boobs like Barbie, but I know that doesn’t change the fact that other young girls did.

All I’m saying is that Barbie has made mistakes in her life, dating Blaine being in the top five. But maybe she herself had succumbed to the pressure of the media wanting her to have a “perfect” appearance. Maybe she’s struggling with body issues and hasn’t been able to get the right help because every Barbie therapist in town is also skinny and tall. Maybe she’s just going through her own shit and needs help from her friends (us) right now, but all we’re doing is shaming her.

In times like this, we need to be there for her. We look like total hypocrites if we shame her on her body when she landed on the moon before Neil Armstrong did. We need to let her know her bust size doesn’t matter more than her medical career. We need to tell her that it’s okay if she’s short. If she has dark skin. If her waist isn’t small and her thighs touch and chafe a little. She needs to know she’s allowed to have flaws, because she’s only human!

…wait.

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becoming

There are many times when I look back on the past few years and feel like I’ve made no progress in certain areas. It’s discouraging to work so hard for so long, fighting through tears and doubts, just to come back to the same point again. But the one thing I have to remind myself of is how much the little wins can add up to. Tiny accomplishments- doing laundry regularly, spending 5 hours watching Netflix instead of 10, reading for just 20 minutes after not picking up a book in months- can sometimes lead to lifestyle changes without me even realizing it. Then there are the wins that aren’t seen unless you look closely at yourself and compare who you were to who you are now.

I look back on the experiences I had whether they’re with work, people, or just myself and see so much growth in the way I felt back then compared to now. The last book I read (entirely), The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout, brought back so many memories of my anxiety, self consciousness, and fear. Although the main character suffers from all of these because of totally different reasons, it was comforting to know that I wasn’t overreacting in the past and sometimes today.

Finishing my degree and choosing a career is one of the hardest journeys I’m on… but that is just one part of the bigger and tougher journey of discovering and growing into the woman I am today. One reminiscence that occurs whenever I think about my age and where I am in life is about just that- where I thought I’d be in life by the time I was in my twenties. When I was younger, I used dream about the things I’d have and where I’d be working. It changed in specificity, but the outline was always the same: I’d have a car, a job doing something “business-y”, and I’d be on my way to moving into my own apartment (notice how no relationships are involved in that plan… funny now that I think about it). I always was concerned about what I’d have and where I’d be, but never worried about how I’d feel and what I’d like. I guess that’s something a lot of kids go through because we’re told that we have to be successful and success is mainly based on our education, jobs, etc…. but that’s not the point of this post.

I never really had traditional hobbies. Aside from my barbie dolls and Britney Spears CDs, I wasn’t really interested in anything besides computers- growing up in the 90s/00s was the beginning of a new technological era, and I abused the shit out of it. I spent a lot of time on fanfiction websites, playing RPG games, and talking to cousins and strangers in chatrooms (the first set of friends I made and lost where in an AOL chatroom of people I followed on Xanga). While most preteens were watching TV and hanging out with friends from school, I was running home to jump on our shared computer to mine adamantite ore on RuneScape and talk to my cousins on AIM.

A big regret I have is not taking a serious interest in some of the things I liked, even if they sounded lame and boring. Hobbies are something that helped shape me into who I am today. Writing was always something I enjoyed, but only until my late teens/early twenties did I consider it something serious. Even then I found myself debating on whether or not it counted as a hobby because I wasn’t as dedicated to it. I recently realized how much writing has helped me when it comes to stress and making decisions. Writing as much as a paragraph or an idea has calmed my nerves or brought things into perspective for me about so many things.

Reading and writing opened so many doors to other interests; art, makeup, the love of NYC. But my curiosity about all these things would have never grown if I didn’t leave my house and experience the things I thought I wanted. The heartbreaks (from lovers and family) and the disappointment (from people and life itself) taught me so many lessons about life and myself that no one could have taught me about.

Living life the way I saw everyone else around me living it was an eye opener to my actual desires. Being controlled by a man because I was blinded by my need for love and attention was what set it all in motion. It took a long 4 years for me to break free, and when I did it was like the biggest weight was lifted off from me. I felt so free like a bird that I got two of them tattooed- which is a reason I never admitted to until now.

I was verbally abused next- but this is something I am thankful for. Being disrespected, manipulated, and insulted never made me feel more confident. I walked away from that relationship bruised, but those bruises healed and then glowed. I had never felt more alive and confident in my skin before.

There was disappointment, too. The heartbreak that people hardly ever talk about, because they only believe a lover can do such a thing. They also never warn you that this heartbreak is forever and constant- maybe until the day the heartbreaker dies. But that’s also not the point of this post. Being disappointed over and over again by someone so close to me has only strengthened my independence and lowered my need to depend on someone.

Someone told me recently that I pay attention a lot, which is a nice confirmation of something I always knew about myself. I’ve always looked closely at everything; the way someone looks, the way they say things, or the way they act in different situations. I pay attention to some details that others usually overlook. As much as I pay attention to other people, I pay attention to myself as well. I constantly try to analyze why I do the things I do, why I get nervous in situations, or why I get emotional over things that aren’t that serious. A lot of times I regret not being this meticulous about myself earlier on in life because I could have avoided so many failures and fall outs.

Nonetheless, I’m content with who I am and the path I’m on mentally. I’m happy that I’m confident, even if I still get nervous once in a while. I’m happy that I know what I want, even if I’m nowhere near getting it. I’m happy that I can change whatever I’m not happy about, even if I have to figure out if its part of who I am naturally or a bad habit.

I’ve never written a post like this before but I think that shows how hidden this growth is. I tend to let all my sadness out in writing. Whenever I feel like beating myself up, I do so by writing about it. But all the sadness and moping around leads to more growth, more discovery about myself… and obviously more variety in my writing.

renewing

What a lovely coincidence that I decided to publish this old piece on my four-year anniversary with WordPress.com. I originally had planned to publish it instead of my last post, but I didn’t finish and wasn’t too sure where I was heading with it. Luckily you can write things for the simple reason of “just because.”


As I sit here staring at this page, I reflect back on the things I have written over the course of my life. I look back on when I first began writing; who inspired me, what I used to write, and how I felt about writing, both in the moment and as a whole. I think about how I confident I was about my own writing- ashamed to share my work with people I actually knew and saw on a daily or weekly basis but proud to publicly post stories on websites for thousands of strangers to view. I have come to accept that I started writing with the enthusiasm and interest of a child. It wasn’t something that I picked up on my own that grew into a great hobby. I was looking for the approval of someone I then saw as a role model and only wrote with the intent of creating something better than anything anyone else had ever written. I guess that’s how most writer’s feel to some extent. Who doesn’t want to write something that reaches out to thousands or millions of people? I will probably always have at least a little bit of that feeling behind everything I write. But even though the idea of writing was only sparked after I tried to keep up with someone who I admired, it did grow into something I now have a great interest for. I had my moments where I wouldn’t write anything for weeks or months at a time because I was distracted by other things or just simply wasn’t in the mood for it. But over time writing and reading have made their way back into my life and the desire to read everything that catches my eye or write about anything that comes to mind takes over a good portion of my life.

I’ve written tons of blogs about how much nostalgia I feel when I look back at the things I wrote in high school or early college, but they were just that- nostalgic posts where I longed to have the wit and cleverness that I had back in the day. I never truly looked back on how my writing improved and later began to transform into a different style that I wasn’t ready to accept. As many things begin to change, I am opening up to the idea of letting writing take over more of my life than it has ever before. I want to devote more time and energy into writing in order to advance how I write and see where it can take me.

Anyone will tell you that writing is not an easy path to go down. For me I feel like it’s especially hard when I tend to second guess everything and it feels like I’m shut down for having high hopes and dreams. I grew up in a home where no one was encouraged to reach for the stars. My shyness and introversion was taken advantage of when I was younger and as time goes by I look back at how much my view of a successful life was shaped by my mother and other people around me. It makes you really wonder how we’re supposed to pick a path for college when we’re so young and have no idea what’s really out there besides what our parents and people at home tell us. Only after experiencing some of the things I thought I wanted in life did I really see that I didn’t actually want those things. Certain experiences have caused me turn back to the things I always liked and never really gave enough attention to, like writing and reading.

I noticed that I have a negative view of other people who seem to be exploring writing themselves. I especially looked down on those in of the same culture and background who started to share their writing with people they know. I thought, “well that sucked,” “they need to write more,” or “this was stupid” after reading something that wasn’t up to the standards of published authors. I judged the way they wrote and the topics they wrote about without thinking of my own writing. It never occurred to me that they might have been starting out like I was, or were only exploring hobbies and different ways to express themselves.

Although I have started to accept that not everyone’s writing is the same and tried to shut down some negative thoughts about people who have begun to express themselves through words, it still doesn’t mean I agree or like what they write. Finding my own style doesn’t mean I should love what other people write, just like it doesn’t mean I should hate what they write.

The journey of writing will always reflect my life. Any writer will tell you that heartbreak and tragedy will bring out your best work. But the more I experience things for myself, the more I see that writing is contingent with our emotions, and some of us are good at being sad while others are better at being happy.

a break for transformation.

I can feel a lot of changes happening. Some that were planned and some that I have no choice but to welcome and embrace. The outcome, nonetheless, will be a positive one.

It’s time for me to change what I give my attention to, and even though it’ll seem like I’m giving up writing or reading, I’m actually spending more time and focusing on both. I just need to prepare myself and learn a lot more before I’m ready to take a step forward. I need to take a moment to find my style of writing and work on it, instead of sporadically typing up anything I’m feeling in the moment and sharing it on platforms where it can be misconstrued as something else. I want my true self to be shown in my writing, for it’s my only outlet where I can comfortably express myself.

I hope that anyone that stops by my page sees the effort I put into my writing and leaves their thoughts because even when I do resume writing, I’ll still be learning. Whether it’s about the topic I expand on or about my writing style in general, comments are welcomed because your opinion does matter to me. Don’t ever think you’re wasting your time by discussing something because there’s a chance that someone is too afraid to say the same thing you’re thinking.

As I work on writing pieces on various topics, I’ll be sharing some blogs that I’ve found along the way. I have already come across a few new bloggers and websites that I find entertaining and inspiring. Some writers whose blogs I’ve read a long time ago have drastically improved their work and have been contributing to many websites, and seeing their progress motivates me.

To have their passion and determination would be a success itself.