Like Other Girls

Art by Lady Margrette Bermudez/THE FLAME

DUST PILED on the doll’s clothes. A family of colorful bears huddled under a plastic cover that failed to protect them from dirt. 

All the dolls sat on an orange bear’s lap— cleverly named Orangey. The brown one was called Browny and the pink one Pinky. A child, of course, had impeccable naming skills. 

In grade school, I picked up many hobbies. One of them was sewing and cross-stitching. I wanted to sew dresses and skirts for my dolls. I cross-stitched flowers exclusively. One of my first crafts was a yellow flower with a smile on its face. It was based on a video game flower, and it made me happy to accomplish even a simple design. 

As most kids did, I grew out of my toys. Barbie dolls (some of which had their heads shaved), plastic bricks and toy cars were eventually thrown away or given to my younger cousins. However, I was adamant about keeping my stuffed toys. Though I stopped playing with toys altogether, I could not let go of them. They had their spot to fill. If it was merely to sit and gather dust, so be it. 

So for years, they collected dust above my drawer. 

I stopped buying and asking for stuffed animals, not wanting to have yet another thing to attract dust in my room. Three were enough. 

I wanted to be grown, mature and not like other girls. I wore T-shirts, not short skirts. I played games and read books, not went out shopping and sewed. I wanted to be a mature kid. I wanted to be the cool girl, Gabriella, not Sharpay— who, looking back, was really not that bad. Because pink, sewing and toys were for girly girls. The girl I wanted to be was the one the boys wanted, the so-called acceptable kind of girl.

My sewing kit remained on my table, untouched. I kept it closed as my mother would sometimes need an extra needle or thread. Over the years, it sat next to notebooks and game cartridges. 

Years later, I sat on my bed. A tiger plushie on my lap and a sewing kit on the side. It was on sale and I caved in buying it. Unfortunately, it was cheap, so I had to do some repairs. 

My skills were a little rusty. The needles were, luckily, still usable. The rolls of thread were saved from aging as my sewing kit remained closed for years. I picked up the pink one. The black one, which used to be the biggest roll, was already on its last leg. 

“I should buy more,” I thought.

I faced the poor tiger away from me. The hole was not too big. It was on the back of its head, which was why I missed it during the purchase. However, the stuffing inside could still spill out. 

I carefully pinched the yellow fabric together, closing the gap. Then, I pinned it shut. I was careful with sewing it. The fabric was thick, and the needle was old. The black thread pulled the fabric back together. However, the black stripes of the tiger were misaligned. 

My old self would cringe at me for such an innocent act, wearing pink pajamas with a stuffed toy on my lap. Still, I could not forget that yellow flower I cross-stitched. 

If sewing was apparently so easy, why is this a struggle? I pushed the needle into the thick fabric, almost stabbing my finger in the process. I let out a laugh and a silent apology to all the women I looked down on for sewing, knitting, embroidering and the like. 

Easy, really? 

Still, the tiger on my lap was the bigger priority. Not some hypothetical man. Never the hypothetical man. F

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