A fact I learnt very early on is that people are all made of different things. Some have solid bodies of steel, others walk around in a natural gleaming skin of twenty-four carat gold. There are those made of just plain fabric, weak, brown, stuffed with chicken feathers and spluttering. Though it’s people like me, who are made of edible materials, who are put to the toughest of tests. We’re expected to look nice, slid out of the tin, the pan, onto the plate, for the inspection of all.
I look in the mirror and decide I’m made of jelly. Not because I wibble or wobble – not that parts of me don’t – but because from the start, I’m slapped out onto the plate unceremoniously, laughed at, cringed at, poked at. Some smother me with ice cream to keep the bad taste at bay. A lot of people avoid me altogether – wouldn’t you if you saw this quivering away timidly at the table?
I told my mum of the care I need. If only she believed me.
“Honestly mum!” I say, “I’m jelly! Poked and prodded, and I get told I’m a bad texture!”
“Darling, you’re fabric, like everyone else.”
As I grew, I began to understand that make-up and fashionable clothes weren’t the topping to protect me. I tried a lot of things, yet I couldn’t get them to leave me alone. So I started to hate my material.
I fought it. Tried to be twenty-four carat gold. I couldn’t. I downgraded; I didn’t need to be perfect, just more attractive than jelly. Silver would do. But I couldn’t force myself to be made of silver either. Or bronze, copper, steel. One thing came to mind, the one thing my mum had always said I was. Ordinary. Fabric.
They’re easily punctured by something as minor as scissors or a broken nail. To fabric people, these little rips and tears are inevitable, and require repairs with a needle and some store bought patches. It’s common practice to try and hide these imperfections, but they’re nothing unusual.
My body took the damage. Fell to pieces. I tried to patch it, be like a regular fabric person, but by the time I woke up the next morning, I was just jelly again. I loathed that I’d be this way forever.
Eventually, I realised I would never be anything but jelly. So hating everyone else seemed to be the next logical step. How could they gleam so bright, or be so wonderfully dull? Every morning, I looked a little different than I did the day before. I didn’t really have a firm grasp on what I looked like, I couldn’t get past the masses wobbling before my eyes.
But today, I’m sick of it. Today, I focus and tear at the soft, fragile material. I look, and for the first time see my blonde hair, tangled with sleep, fly-aways plentiful. It bursts out into the light, shimmering. I work harder, pasty, scar-ridden cheeks shaking off the remains of sloppy jelly. Thick arms become visible, then chubby fingers dangling as I pull and reveal love handles. Look, I have scars, real scars! They stain me, remind me of when I got knocked off my bike, or when my brother jabbed me with his Action Man’s gun. I’ve got awkward feet. Not made for dancing.
And then there’s just me. Everyone else is fabric, or gold, or steel. Some are jelly. But who just accepts themselves as people, flesh and bone and hair and imperfections?
I will still fight my material sometimes, my wibbly bits. I won’t be happy with this forever. But for now, I think I’ve won the duel.