I’m Not a Barbie Girl: Getting Over Cute

Not long ago I was at a party. Having arrived hours after many of the other guests, I didn’t get much food, but I also didn’t have the pleasure of drinking quite as many Keystone Lights as the others did. Why anyone would drink Keystone Light is a question this beer snob–though that may be an oxymoron–is still ruminating over. Beer pong is the obvious answer, but it is cultural, too.

The volleyball was fun! The company was interesting and intelligent,though progressively less so as the evening went on. Or not so much less intelligent, as more intense andrepetitious. Everyone had a project for me to do, or offered sincere, lengthy solutions to problems that weren’t really on the table. Only later did I realize that I felt interviewed, scrutinized, cross-examined… by a group of rising third-year law students. Tenacity and problem-solving is in their blood–along with a lot of KeyStone Light.

After listening to a long, semi-articulate dissertation on an upcoming project on which we might collaborate–wishing I could be set free to find the nearest bathroom–but not leaving because I was afraid the person holding forth might plummet from a precarious perch headfirst onto the floor, I began to become disenchanted. Another persistent person wished to offer help and provide contacts that would smooth my scholarly path. She had a British accent, so managed to sound scholarly herself. I regretted handing over a business card, but need not have feared: I have never heard from her or her cadre of helpers since that evening. She wasn’t in bad shape, just overly persistent and enthusiastic, and possibly realized that I had been less so when she awoke the next morning.

No, it was not a chair that tipped me into a phase of abstinence, but a well-meant comment by another party goer: “Look at Circe in her little shorts. She looks so cute.” Maybe “cute” was not the exact language used (I am afraid of cross-examination!) but for the purposes of this post, and to save myself additional embarrassment, we’ll say it was.

Despite my comparative abstemiousness that evening, I wasn’t as sensitive to the implications of that innocent, well-intentioned comment until the next day. It was then that I thought: I am not cute! I am not Barbie! I am, honestly, not young enough to be Cute Barbie. I am blessed with normal-sized thighs that enjoy the gym and sports, and shorts seemed just fine for an evening party in the summer.

Then I decided: I am never going to another party as an entertainer or costumed performance actress. I will wear my shorts again, as appropriate, but I am never again sending out “I am Cute, Helpless, & Fun Barbie” signals again if I can help it.

Maybe I am being too hard on myself. Does Barbie have a volleyball outfit? Maybe. Those volleyball outfits are pretty cute. Maybe she even has a beach volleyball outfit. But, given a chance, would Barbie play co-ed volleyball?

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