by Zarria Belizaire
Every little girl needs a doll, something to project their deepest desires upon. My mother made me mine after I had seen a little white girl holding a beautiful doll. She wore a matching outfit with it, her smile shined, and all the other girls clamored up to her, demanding to know where she had gotten a doll like that one. It wasn’t long before everyone had one that matched them, they brought their dolls everywhere and I wanted, I wanted so badly to have one. When we went to the store for one the shelves were lined with dolls, some blond, some brunette, some with blue eyes, others with brown eyes, all of them were white.
I had thrown a fit, upset that one hadn’t looked like me, that I didn’t have one to wear matching dresses with, where was my best friend? Mama had looked sad, almost haunted at the image of the white shelves. Still, she grabbed my hand and walked out of the store, reprimanding me on the tantrum I had thrown. It was a month later when mama came up to smiling, wide and bright. She held her hand behind her back and her body squirmed with untapped energy. Sensing her excitement, my attention zeroed on her, disregarding the toys I had been playing with. None of them were dolls but the bows and bracelets were fun to put on myself.
"Her hair was made from yarn, ready to be braided or brushed into a wild puff. She looked like me. She was mine."
She sat me down, a giddy smile on her face. She brought her arm forward, holding a doll. It wasn’t white like the others or sewed with mechanic precision. Instead, it was a little uneven with dark skin and button eyes. It wore a purple dress as uneven as it’s body and no shoes. Her hair was made from yarn, ready to be braided or brushed into a wild puff. She looked like me. She was mine.
Every little girl needs a doll, something to project their deepest desires upon. My daughter wanted one, seeing the girls at her daycare playing with the ones their mothers bought. She asked me for one when we got home, asking for a doll that looked like her, one she could dress up to be like her. I took her hand and walked into the store, hoping that there were dolls for her.
Instead, there were shelves of pretty dolls with blonde, brunette, hair and blue, brown eyes, and white skin. I couldn’t help but feel as if everything had come crashing down, still, even now, there wasn’t a place for my daughter in perfection. There wasn’t a place for me. She had thrown a fit, upset to be leaving without a precious doll. We got stares from the families around us, some with pity, most with annoyance.
At home I spent time searching for my doll, inhaling dirt and old memories. It took a month to finally pick her out of the pile of old treasures, a day to clean her. I found my daughter playing amongst her bows and fake make-up, dolling herself up in the way she couldn’t a doll. There was excitement in my chest as I presented the worn out, uneven, brown doll. She grabbed the doll with wonder swimming through her eyes. This was hers, just as it had once been mine.
In the noise of my daughter playing with the doll, the lines between me and her blurred and for a moment we were one. A little girl, playing with a doll that looked just like her.