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What's Wrong with Nice Guys?

The Manipulator Files
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Don't Call Me "Baby Doll"


Ever since I can remember, my small stature has aroused what I like to call "human doll syndrome" in those that I encounter during my day-to-day interactions. I have long ago come to terms with my five-foot-one, slim frame, but it never ceases to amaze curious bystanders, who are forever irritating me with lame "how's the weather down there?"-type cracks. Much like a small dog, strangers perceive me as harmless enough to approach with that baby-talk look in their eyes, until I sink my razor-sharp little teeth into their tender flesh. I just don't see myself as the toy poodle type. You know, the kind that are endlessly being stuffed into mini mock turtlenecks by their sadistic owners, or having their little leg muffballs dyed pink to match the bows in their hair. I prefer to think of myself as a runt of the Rottweiler breed: small enough to toss in your Kate Spade handbag, but the kind of dog you really keep around to kick the shit out of wayward Jehovah's Witnesses and that overly flirtatious, middle-aged mailman.

It never ceases to amaze me how comfortably people can violate my personal space, wrapping their hands around my waist and screeching, "you're so little!" as they squeeze like they're trying to reach the highest level on one of those "Test Your Strength" arcade games. I find this offensive because if I were, say, 250+ pounds, people wouldn't come over and try to guess how much I weighed by picking me up, or incredulously ask humiliating questions about where I buy my clothes. (From a store, asshole, just like you.) It seems like some aspect of being small-boned is just so freakish that people cannot resist wrapping two of their fingers around my wrist and exclaiming proudly to their friends, "See! My thumb and index overlap!" while I furiously try and pry myself from their grip.

I guess there's some fixture in the American psyche that arouses images of submissive children and geisha girls with bound feet when they come across a petite woman. It's as if my personality is expected to match my height, which I have never understood. I always figured that if I couldn't reach the counter to place my order, I'd simply scream it out at the top of my lungs until someone paid attention. So far, this has been a successful strategy in combating the "I'm small, so you can cut in front of/ talk over me" mentality of others, which might otherwise hinder my Pilgrim's Progress through life, with the added bonus of several shocked expressions along the way. I learned this tactic from my equally petite mother, who would argue with the pimply-faced cashier at the grocery store over a ten-cent price difference in strawberries while I hid my mortified teenaged expression in my hands. Sure we had to continually switch supermarkets each time she reduced another minimum wage earning high-schooler to tears, but her point was clear: if you look like you can be taken advantage of, then don't act like it, or you will be.

I have a feeling this attention to my size has more to do with the American mentality that "bigger is better," and people are just shocked and amazed that someone so diminutive can have made it through life without being taken out by an SUV or getting lost in Wal-Mart. It makes other people uncomfortable when I stand closely beside them because my height acts as a foil, making them appear more obvious and oafish as my spry little body weaves gracefully in and out of life's sticky situations. I once dated a woman who couldn't see past my height. Forget that I can intelligently converse about any topic from hockey to existential philosophy, she just wanted to focus on the fact that I had to pull the seat forward every time I drove her car, as though her 5'7" frame, which really isn't even that tall, meant she had some biological superiority. I took to wearing my snakeskin boots with 3 inch heels to lessen the height difference before I finally wised up and realized what she was really telling me when she rolled her eyes at having to lower her arms to my shoulders when we danced. She was really telling me that she had some flaming inferiority complex that prevented her from acknowledging that this slight frame housed one helluva powerful woman. So I kicked her to the curb and bought a new pair of Etnies to celebrate.

In all honesty, shopping is hell. No, shopping is purgatory, and trying to find a bathing suit or pair of jeans that even comes close to fitting is hell. I have spent far too many afternoons under the florescent lighting of various chain stores ending in the word "Kids," angrily staring at my reflection in the dressing room mirror wondering if what they meant by "XS" was "these would be perfect if you had freakishly long legs to go with that little waist." And though the swimsuits in these department stores are generally a suitable fit, I'd prefer not to spend my weekend at the beach prancing around in a highlighter pink two-piece with the word "Princess" emblazoned across my chest in glitter, or flowers proudly festooning my ass. A girl has to have some pride, and that's where I draw the line. The obnoxiously helpful people named Sherry that typically work at those stores are paralyzed as I enter, tentatively approaching me to ask if I need help "finding something for my little sister," though the pronounced scowl on my face generally deters them before I have to scream "I'm shopping for my goddamn self!" over the pulsating techno music. I do not understand why in America, where we proudly build shopping complexes that declare, "It's all inside," I am still subjected to this continued humiliation. In a country where the average woman is 5' 4", why are my options either purchasing a miniature Barbara Bush ensemble at Petite Sophisticate or being relegated to the neon horrors of the children's section? Why has "plus size" and "Queen size" clothing recently become such a staple of our society that, at a moment's notice, any self-respecting Drag Queen can find a pair of pantyhose that fit, but I can't? Hasn't anyone realized that there are trendy, 20-something women out there, namely me, who want to wear clothes that fit, but aren't built like the Third Reich's Catwalk Model project has genetically engineered them?

I don't think I'm being too demanding. For everyone else, finding a comfortable pair of jeans is a lucky day. For me, they've become something of a Holy Grail: I know they're out there, but I might never have the money or the luck to track them down. And just imagine what a waste of time and energy it would be to spend my life looking for them. I could have discovered a cure for AIDS by now if that had been my mission, rather than just trying to find a pair of pants where the crotch didn't hang down to my knees while teasingly being labeled "size 1." Personally, I think it's a conspiracy to keep women down by making us slaves to the insanity of the fashion industry. If our hands are busy pulling up our pants, how are we supposed to reach out and bitch-slap the motherfuckers who don't like our revolution?

I think I'm going to start a rebellion. I'll call it "Bitty Bitches Unite", and we'll go around naked to protest the fact that all clothing is made to fit either Christy Turlington or Mia Tyler body doubles. We'll plaster our banners on billboards so that no one will claim that, oh, they didn't see us there little lady, and on "one size fits all" clothing labels just to make sure that our sisters in this struggle know that we feel their pain. We'll learn those moves that they teach you in self-defense classes, where you can paralyze someone by plunging two fingers into their neck, so that people won't ever mistakenly believe that they can touch us without first receiving a fucking gold-sealed, written invitation to do so. But most importantly, we'll challenge the notion that says a woman's size determines her lot in life. But most importantly, we'll challenge the notion that says a woman's size determines her lot in life, because you never know when the Body Gestapo might come charging through the door and drag you off to Mattel's concentration camp to become an official "baby doll": stacked on the shelf 5 bodies high, trapped in your little pink prison with a matching bow in your hair.

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Copying or reproduction (in whole or in part) on any medium (such as in print or on the web) is expressly forbidden without written permission from HBI

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