Big Girls Do Cry
Updated: Sep 12
I beg to differ with Mr. Frankie Valli, but big girls do, in fact, cry. In fact, when a big girl is young and starting to deal with the fact that's she's bigger than the other little girls, she cries a lot. Add to that the name calling and bullying that goes along with it and you have my elementary school experience.
When I was six, Dorothy Hamill won the gold medal for figure skating in the Olympics, skating to various pieces of music from Errol Flynn movies. She won by unanimous vote.
I, like a million other little girls, rocked her trademark haircut in all my seven-year-old glory. I was already in ballet, tap, and jazz classes and I'll brag now, but I had a lot of natural talent. My instructors told my parents they should consider letting me pursue dance in a School for the Arts kind of thing. All I knew at the time was that I loved it.
Dorothy looked like she was dancing on the ice, of course, so I was instantly in love with the sport. While I love sports like basketball and football that have scores with no subjective numbers, the grace and emotion in skating performances have an effect on me that's deeper and stays with me in more vivid detail.
Hoping to cash in on her popularity, the Ideal Toy Company (check out their history, it's fascinating) made a Dorothy Hamill doll. And one snowy afternoon, Momma brought her home to me and she quickly kicked Barbie off her throne of My Favorite Toy.
Want to know why?
She was bigger than Barbie. Taller, broader...even her feet were bigger! And she was more pliable so I could pose her in a million different ways, most of which were from dances I'd done in my recitals. She was me, other than having darker hair. I was already bigger than other girls - taller, broader, and yes, with even bigger feet. But this plastic and rubber doll made me feel seen and valued. She made me special and finally the delicate, skinny Barbie was no longer the ideal. Funny how that's the same word as the name of the toy company. Hmmm.
But there's more to life than dancing and posing in the Hamill Camel. Eventually a girl's got to change clothes, right? Dorothy only had two outfits, after all. I asked Mom to make her some clothes (Momma could make anything) and she would have gladly done it, but she couldn't find any patterns. Plenty of patterns for a Barbie, but none for a Dorothy.
This is a theme in my life, like it is for any big girl. If my talented mother hadn't made every special occasion dress for me, I'd have ended up in mumu-ish dresses that looked made for a 40-something. It still boggles my mind that fashion companies thought big girls wanted to stand out like a sore thumb. Ridiculous. The truth is, when it comes to body insecurity, most women want to blend in to the wallpaper.
So we can't find Dorothy a decent wardrobe. Well, let's find her a boyfriend. After all, Barbie has Ken so surely there must be someone out there who'd love an Amazon on ice skates. She was America's Sweetheart, after all! Surely there'd be a male doll to want her as his sweetheart as well.
Sorry about DH's luck. There was nada. I even got inventive and tried other types of male dolls like GI Joe and the Tonto doll who was best buddies with the Lone Ranger. I thought he was hotter than that goofball he ran around with anyway. But no dice. All three of these petite dudes made Dorothy look, and dare I say feel, like even more of a freak.
Again, I felt simpatico with my favorite doll. I mean, I was a giant at 5'2" in the fourth grade. Most of the boys in my middle school were about boob height to me. But since I was overweight, that wasn't a good thing. I was someone to be avoided at all costs. To be thought my boyfriend was akin to being with a circus freak.
This bullsh*t changed eventually, of course. I've been married for 23 years to a handsome, talented, sweet man and I've dated plenty in my life. I know that it's who I am on the inside that really brings the men to me. Plus there are those men, of course, who are sexually attracted to "fluffier" women.
One of my best guy friends in high school told me once, "Kelly, when I first met you, you were (his girlfriend) Angie's buddy and you were cute enough. But then I got to know you and you became a knockout." Best. Compliment. Ever.