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Arts and Culture

A Theory of the Young-Girl

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Posted on Nov 22, 2013
Semiotext(E)

By Cherilyn Parsons

(Page 2)

I don’t know if you feel devastated reading these words, or vindicated, indignant, or what. Maybe you feel dismissive of Young-Girls wealthy enough to have the luxury to build themselves gilded prisons (with responsibly sourced gold)—though Young-Girlization has metastasized through social sectors.

Having been a Young-Girl, this book flays me open in a way I long for. It is both ruthless and compassionate. “To annihilate the nothingness” is Tiqqun’s mission, as expressed in a photocopied collection available at anarchist bookstores.

To go back to the girl I know best:

I recall again the casting office. I’m 12. Breasts like little mosquito bites swell on my chest. More than anything, I need to be wanted. I need to make up for the problem of having been born.

The other Young-Girls in the room are flawless. I am sickeningly real; I have to not be real. My mother daubs gloss on my lips, slaps my cheeks for color, whispers, “Big eyes!” so I force open my expression, look perky, happy, the perfect purveyor of product. I am product. The casting director calls my name and I leap forward, heart pounding.

Inside, I line up on the scrap of duct tape on the floor. I do a run-through of the script, this time for Golden Grahams cereal. Inside I begin my secret journey, my respite: visualizing myself as a tiny black ball shrinking to a place beneath my sternum. With each of my smiles the ball grows smaller, tighter, darker.

Rolling! Crack: The slate claps down. I look slightly off camera to my (illusory) friends. Call out to them, “It’s a golden day!” Smile radiantly at the sunshine, at my many friends. Pour the cereal using the empty box provided, the front always facing the camera. Smile, laugh, dig the fake spoon into the fake bowl, eat air, take big satisfying bites of emptiness. Look directly into the camera and say, “Crunchy!” Later: “Crispy!” Good, try again. Maybe as if with an exclamation point! Or how about like a statement. Next time, a discovery. Big eyes! Yes.

“Yes, with conviction!” The director commands.

Conviction. I can do conviction. The eyes of the director are raking me up and down. I smile more brightly. What can I do better?

The little ball of life is plummeting inside my chest to a place where no one will ever find it. It’s a relief to disappear.

To dis-appear: Today, when society urges people to market themselves to exhaustion, what a radical act it can be, and what a relief, to refuse.

What might Tiqqun say about how I’ve revealed my experience with TV commercials? “The Young-Girl is happy to speak of her childhood with emotion, in order to give the impression that she has not gotten over it, that at bottom, she is still naive. Like all whores, she dreams of candor. But unlike whores, she insists that we believe her, and that we believe her sincerely.”

I do insist. Believe in me, and I will believe in you. We have to start somewhere.


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