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I pick up one of the Barbie dolls from the heap of dismantled bodies that just burst from my closet. My breath skims its surface, flinging flecks of dust into the lifeless faces of the others and uncovering memories deep-rooted in the plastic joints. The once-silky hair scratches through the crevices of my fingers as I allow a trance of nostalgia to pull me into its balmy embrace. I remember the five year olds we once were, our chaste souls contented by Barbie fashion contests, uneven haircuts, and highlighter hairstreaks. My mind takes me back to the age in which we all epitomized individuality and self-assurance - back to the age of unbound spirits. As all ages do, however, this one came to an end. We proclaimed ourselves too old to play with Barbie dolls, and so they were packed into their corresponding carrying cases and shoved into the backs of our closets along with the defining characteristics of our youth. Despite our attempts to push it out of our lives, the concept of a Barbie doll never quite vacated.

The pressures of middle school squeezed us with its tactless hands, wringing us of our individuality, contorting us into plastic molds. The diversity that previously distinguished each of us succumbed to unnaturally obvious highlights and undisputed fashion trends. Everyone adapted to the social norms: curls were flattened, nails were manicured, and spray tans as fake as the Chanel handbags gracing each shoulder clogged pores. Albeit, there were a few whose lips denied the Pouty Pink Shimmer lip gloss or whose purses weren’t embedded with the logo that validated one as worthy of a higher status. These strays weren’t without denigration, of course. We were fake. Synthetic. Plastic. We were Barbie dolls.

Six years have passed since that transition, and it turns out that the exit is just as brutal as the entrance – although a different kind of brutal. As we fill out college applications, complete resumes, acquire scholarships, and face the realization that in less than a year, our lives will rapidly evolve, the plastic that has encased us finally begins to melt off. My veins are unclogged and passion once again flows freely, my ambition is revived, and every orifice bleeds with fervor that will never coagulate. I am not a Barbie doll; I am Anna. I am someone, not just some body. I have shed my plastic eyelids and can finally see the world, not just look at it. I have three eyes: left, right, camera lens. I feel compelled to create art with the latter, because this world – this beautiful, strange, eccentric world – never ceases to fill my lungs with inspiration. Photography, and art in general, is not something I love, because that would be comparable to saying that I love to breathe. It is a part of my life – a part of living.
My newfound eyes watch as other plastic lids peel back to reveal eyes thickly glazed with a new perspective – one that has been buried progressively deeper for the past ten years. I watch and I can’t help but to feel some spark of recognition unwillingly quivering through my veins; the most closely related feeling is that of when we were five years old, playing with Barbie dolls.





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