When I was little, my mother gave me a paper doll. She told me, “She may be made of paper but she’s more than just that.” And she was. She would come alive in my eyes, but only mine, and I quickly grew obsessed with this paper made dream girl. She was real to the touch. Her skin would feel like skin, her hair like hair. She would blink and run and laugh.
She would become a full-fledged, three-dimensional human, except not really. She wasn’t really all that human or all that dimensional. She would pull and bend and fold in places she had no control over. She would float and dance, regardless of whether or not she felt like floating or dancing. She looked human, felt human. But she was still a paper doll. When I grew bored, I started to cut her into shapes that didn’t exist. I didn’t quite know what it was I wanted her to look like but I knew she wasn’t quite there yet. It started with snips. Then snips became slashes and slashes became chops and before I even realized what I was doing, my paper doll was in tiny pieces all over the floor.
And then I grew into a paper doll of my own, real to the touch. I let other people pull and bend and fold me into meaningless, hollow shapes. I would float and dance, regardless of feeling. Feelings don’t matter when you have none. I was almost human, but not quite. They didn’t want human anyway. They wanted easy, they wanted light. They wanted a two-dimensional trophy (for when three dimensions were too tedious), something that could be colored in and sliced up, something that could be crumpled up and thrown away if need be.
Eventually, I grew tired of paper-thin living. You can try to squeeze three dimensions into two and it will work for a really long time but in the end, you gain nothing from your effort. People rarely drown in shallow waters — you learn how to swim in them. But paper dolls never learn how to survive depth.
And the worst part of all; after all that folding and floating and cutting and crumpling, no matter how hard you try, you don’t ever really stop feeling like trash.