Page 4

I'm in Barbie's office. In Barbie's chair. I enjoy being in Barbie's chair. In fact, I am eating while I sit here. I have fresh fruit and a small garden salad with a side of ranch dressing, low-cal. I savor my food, as it is so yummy, and Barbie isn't here to watch me. I look at my frothy pink drink. I hate my frothy pink drink. I went on a publicity thing to meet my fans. I signed autographs in a mall in New Jersey. Very exciting work. All the girls love me. All the 9- to 15-year-olds, with rotting teeth and bloated stomachs, thinning hair and glassy eyes, love me. You look great, they tell me, you look ... did I tell you, you look great. I was just like you "before," now I'm you "after," Dolly. I'm you, Dolly, did I tell you you look great? They have slim thighs. They have tiny breasts. They have slender arms. A mother comes up to me. Dolly, I tried the program, too. Me and my daughter together. I didn't want her to be like me. She shows me some pictures of herself on a beach. At the most a size 12. She hands me a picture of her daughter, cute and bouncy, and then another of her looking sick and miserable. I look at her little girl. How old is she, I ask? Her, she says, vaguely pointing, she's 7. My little Lucia is 7, isn't that right? Say hello to the nice lady. Say hello to the nice Dolly, she knows Barbie. Barbie tells her secrets. Lucia looks at me and starts crying. The other girls chant, "Dolly, Dolly, Dolly." Lucia screams and cries but her mother forces her to look at me. This is her, Lucia, this is the lady on TV ... thank you, Dolly. She drags Lucia away. The little girl is hiccuping and trembling. The mantra of the emaciated is at a feverish pitch. Goodbye Lucia, I call, goodbye.

I am waiting for Barbie. I want to tell her about Lucia and her mother. I want Barbie to hear about this, and about all those other girls. They told me I look healthy and I do because I stopped Barbie's Secret Wonder diet plan months ago. My dentist said all my teeth were going to fall out from the erosion. Erosion, what erosion? I asked him. Kind, old, sweet Dr. Poker shook his head. Dolly, it's not my place to tell young, rich, beautiful women what to do, he said, but I think we have a problem. Then he told me about stomach acid. He said dentists always know. I left the office stunned. I used to have perfect teeth, perfect health. I wasn't even overweight really, just five or 10 pounds. I wandered the streets, eating pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, cotton candy, frozen spinach, sushi, Thai food. I got home, bloated and queasy. I made myself a diet drink. Then, by the light of the refrigerator, it dawned on me. I didn't have to drink it. I did not have to. And a feeling of euphoria came over me, greater than any puking rush. I poured it out the window. I emptied every canister of that nasty powder, and believe me I had a closetful, into the garbage disposal. I turned it on and pink slime sputtered and flew everywhere. I smashed the video, chopped up the wardrobe with nail scissors, demolished the accessories. I put on my old jeans that Dolly "before" wore, and decided that I would soon again properly fill them. My bony bottom hurt. After that I came up with the plan. I continued being Barbie's brainchild for a while, watching calories and exercising, and all the while sabotaging her. Fin-ally, tonight, I cut off my golden curls and went to the all-night drugstore for some Preference-by-L'Oreal-Because-I'm-Worth-It Strawberry Blonde hair dye. I went home and dyed my hair.

TV commercial. Dolly "after" sitting on a park bench, watching a bunch of beautifully round women play volleyball, women with real breasts and hips and thighs. They glisten with sweat. They jounce. They jiggle. They are very happy.

Barbie comes in. She can only see the tip of my lit Magna cigarette. No more pink cigarettes for me. Dolly, she calls, is that you? What are you doing here so late? I have to get some papers. That Mr. Byle, boy, did he get fresh with me. I'm going to sue his big old pants right off. On second thought, never mind the pants. That would be quite unsightly. I'm going to turn on the lights, Dolly. She turns on the lights and gasps. Dolly, your hair, your clothes, your face, what have you done, why are you doing this to me? I smile coolly at her, I pull out a Polaroid of Lucia. This is what I'm doing to you, Barbie. Look at this child. She's 7. Seven years old, Barbie. Barbie sinks onto her pink leather couch in near catatonia. Seven, she whispers, 7 years old. Well, what did she look like "before"?

I have a new product idea, Barbie, but it's going to be named after me. Dolly's Dream.

TV commercial. Dolly "after" sitting on a park bench, watching a bunch of beautifully round women play volleyball, women with real breasts and hips and thighs. They glisten with sweat. They jounce. They jiggle. They are very happy. Thought bubble over Dolly's head: "What is their secret?" Next scene, a beach. A figure far off in the distance is seen rising from the waves, standing on a large shell. She steps off the shell and runs toward the camera. It is Dolly as she was "before." She sheds her jeans in delight and gazes at her naked reflection in a tide pool, the curves of her arms and swells of her body grazed lovingly by the camera. She looks up. Share the secret of Dolly's dream, she says.

I am myself again and that crazy time is over when I thought Barbie was God. I still love her though, and I visit her every week. She doesn't look that great anymore. The skin on her legs is starting to peel. And hard as she tries, the poor doll can't gain weight. All that happens is the plastic stretches and breaks. She is slowly disintegrating. More of her has crumbled and broken off every time I see her. Barbie was my idol. Barbie made me all I am. Barbie is dead. Long live Barbie.

Miranda Schwartz lives in Washington, D.C. She interned at Sassy magazine before it became a parody of itself, and another of her short stories is scheduled to appear in the anthology Mondo Barbie II.

A couple links to neat Barbie stuff

Urban Desires -- an on-line magazine featuring excerpts from M.G. Lord's book Forever Barbie, essays on Barbie and Ken and a Barbie photo gallery.

Plastic Princess Page -- a clearinghouse of Barbiemania on the net, including info for collectors.

Back to contents