Are you there Barbie? It’s me, Tessa

Design by Cass Sanchez.

Image Description: A blonde Barbie reflected in an ornate mirror clutches a heart-shaped locket on her chest as she exits the mirror’s ornate golden frame. The sun is behind her head like a halo, and there is a garland of roses strung across the bottom of the mirror. 

Trigger Warning: Body dysmorphia, implicit sexual violence, eating disorder

Dear Barbie,

Are you still there? It’s been a while, but I still think about you and the shiny blond hair I’ll never have. I’m not saying it’s your fault, Barbie, but is it a coincidence that everything I lack, you have?

I’ve never told anyone this, but deep down, beneath everything, somewhere so close to my heart it can’t be a lie, I just want to be pretty — pretty in the way you are, where no one will question it, not even myself. The way that won’t go away. The way that could make people love me. 

And do you want to know something sick? I still think about how I looked when I was 16, when my waist-to-hip ratio was as close to yours as it’ll ever be. 

But what I really miss is the way people looked at me. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it Barbie? I want to be looked at the way I looked at you. Do you know what it does to you, craving something you hate? The trouble it’ll get you in?

Do you remember how much I loved you? How I coveted your blue eyes and little nose? Did you know I still bite my fingernails? I’ll never be enough, Barbie.

Did you know I skipped my grandpa’s funeral? Did you know I’m a bad person? Did you know I think someone’s died every time the phone rings? Did you know I just want attention?

Do you ever think of me?

I can’t go on like this — I need to feel something new. I want to be a one-woman tragedy. A car wreck you can’t turn away from. I want to be so small. I want to be made comprehensible. I want to be a flower, sprayed in pesticides. I want to apologize to everyone I’ve hurt. I want to apologize to you. 

Do you remember how shocked I was when I learned my friends would cut off your hair, or pull apart your body? Do you remember how I held you closer that day? Do you remember how I never hurt you until, eventually, I did?  

You never told me how hard it would be, Barbie, to stop things once they’ve started. That each day is chained to the last. How hard it is to find the right words. How lonely it is to keep secrets. How quickly I forget. How long my body remembers. 

Did you know it’s always been about you Barbie? Nothing has ever been enough for me. I only want what I can’t have. 

All my love,


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