Off-Brand Barbie

almost but not quite good enough,
the kind of doll the little girls skip over in hopes they can have the better ones.
the poorer daughters convince themselves that boys don't care about that stuff,
but it's about more than just the kind of toys bought with sufficient funds.

you can find me, off-brand barbie, at the superstore next to more expensive models
of the same thing, rows & rows of better crafted, prettier plastic,
not just sitting there sipping their bottles.
cry baby drinkers, wishful thinkers, might catch your eye for just a second,
but swept over as soon as the brand name dolls come in sight.
maybe their limbs are a little less well connected;
they're not asking for a comparison, nor a fight—
this isn't an off-brand barbie battle cry,
because store-brand barbies are sat there too, dead in the eye,
just as high & dry,
just more plastic to detoxify.

watch off-brand barbie look at the faded stretch marks on her thighs;
as hard as she tries to paint them into shooting stars,
she can't will them up into the sky.
her body is always going to be off-brand,
& she wonders in pity if that means she should wish to die.

off-brand barbie almost looks good enough to keep—
that nearly makes it worse, she thinks.
open up her box just to return her next day to the store;
the hands prying, realizing too quickly she can't be what they want,
don't tend to search for anything more.
it's the superstore hunt,
looking for bargains & expecting each doll to be manufactured without flaw,
despite where they may have come from.
there's no conversation, too much of the gnaw,
& when they might ask, it doesn't matter; they're already done.

off-brand barbie just isn't worth the cheaper price;
from a distance, she looks kind of nice,
but there are too many problems with her design.
almost, almost good enough.
but not quite.

by Gabrielle Genhart

Comments (1)

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