An Anne Geddes
BY JANET MANLEY
That society will recognize that babies were taken from their parents and hidden inside green felt pea pods en masse. That we each have a story to share about being forced into flower pots in emasculating petal hats. That our cries for help issuing from piles of jellybeans went unnoticed due to the camouflage effect of our jellybean rompers. That we found ourselves cradled in the velvet skin of a good-looking and topless black man, our pillowy white fat rolls billowing gently against his elbow crease. That, plopped down in plaster eggshells, our cherubic faces and chubby limbs were used for profit in calendars, impossible puzzles and greeting cards. That once we outgrew our worth, we were abandoned in hollowed-out watermelons and paper tree stumps, our synthetic squirrel tails curling out into the glare that is the world beyond the comfort of our parents arms, abandoned to unflattering apertures and fluorescent lighting, and forced to support the weight of our own heads.
Together, we the Anne Geddes babies ask: How many sets of triplets must be stuffed into matching terra cotta pots freshly plied with breast milk and in a state of undress before enough is enough? How many oversized props must pile up in studio corners, snails upon bird baths upon acorns, before we recognize the monument we have built to poor self-image and willing infantilism? How many more toddlers must be kicked to the curb as they approach sentience and can no longer be easily crammed into a gourd before we assert that impossible puzzles are a marker of intellectual stasis? How many adults must walk through farmers markets, shaken to tears by the sight of a ripe fall pumpkin on a wooden wagon, before we stanch the flow of newborn models toward Geddes’ potato factory?
We reject the premise that all babies are cute and worthy of being surrounded by fluffy, pastel, scented debris. We reject the serving up of people in the early stages of cognitive development in giant teacups, unable to comprehend the tropes they are helping to propagate, specifically regarding colonialism and unsupervised use of diuretics. We reject the reverse anthropomorphism of humans into bumble bees, especially in so anatomically simplistic a manner, without so much as a solid thorax to recommend the likeness. We reject a past spent baring our buttocks for the temporary gratification of fridge magnet consumers. We reject the equating of mammalian offspring with that of a monotreme, placed into a pouch where we so clearly do not belong, not having hatched out of eggs from a mother who uses a single hole to both shit and give birth to life. Together, from the space we have claimed for ourselves, we say to Anne: shove your butternut squash up your cloaca, you old hag.
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