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The Museum of Girlhood

by Annie Fay Meitchik

 

Hello and welcome, hola and bienvenidos, to The Museum of Girlhood. As we enter the museum, please take off your shoes unless you’ve come wearing kitten heels or penny loafers, otherwise frilly socks will be provided for you for the duration of your tour. As we wait in this entryway for folks to prepare their feet for the softness and fragility of the eggshell and feather floors we will soon be walking upon, please feel free to take note of the way we have designed these walls leading us into the museum. Each of these pink and red archways came from Mother Earth, the greatest girl of all, and the paints are made from her gifts—the red pigment comes from Hawaiian dirt and the shades of pink are actually all of the bubblegum bubbles that have ever gone off and floated away from glossy pink lips.

Now that you’re all ready, follow me. On our left you’ll notice a dark classroom with a television set on wheels playing a film about puberty that lacks any substance. Notice how young the girls are, only eight or nine years-old, and take notice of how there are no boys in the room learning alongside the girls about how their bodies work. Because, of course, why would boys need to learn about that? They’re only eight or nine years-old, remember, very innocent and very young.

On your right is a new exhibit. Notice the following behind the display case: A porcelain sculpture of hands calloused from monkey bars, a slim hardcover book with a pink linen cover that reads in gold embossed letters A Guide to the Importance of Always Saying Please and Thank You: Even When You Don’t Mean It, a selection of beads and friendship bracelets, a training bra from a box store, and a Victorian dollhouse.

Next we’ll be entering our botanical building. Even though we’re now outside, continue to use your inside voices, thank you. Feel free to quietly explore the fairy garden, the roly-poly farm, or the mermaid fort. Notice how the garden is made of delicate moss and glitter and how the fort is made of pool floats and towels, that when placed over the jets send a good feeling to a weird place that we’ll not explore further because, as you recall, we didn’t discuss this back in the dim classroom.

Moving on, welcome to the hall of ballet slippers. This interactive exhibit allows visitors to fill out cards, writing down a dream they once had as a child that they never achieved as an adult. In your best cursive penmanship, please write down your failure or failures if you’re feeling ambitious or motivated to do so, and place your scroll inside one of the many ballet slippers covering the walls and ceiling, thank you.

As we exit through the gift shop, I hope you’ll buy a souvenir to remember this journey. I’m often told at the end of these tours that visitors expected things to take longer, but see, the road through girlhood is rather short and there’s not much we can do about that. Please dispose of your frilly socks in the white wicker bin to your left. Today, we’re offering a promotional deal on purchases of pressed flowers, ruled notebook paper that’s ripped along the edges for writing letters to crushes, and impossibly tiny animal figurines that come in sets of four to symbolize a specific type of family. Any of these items can be yours today for 20% off their original price with the code Please that you can use at check out.

 

Annie Fay Meitchik is a writer and visual artist with her BA in Creative Writing from The New School. Through storytelling, Annie aims to amplify the voices of marginalized identities, advocate for equality in art/educational spaces, and synthesize her own life experiences all with a comedic edge. Learn more at: https://www.anniefay.com/.

 

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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “The Museum of Girlhood”?

I thought of this entire piece in one sitting at 3:00 a.m. This creative nonfiction essay utilizes details from my own experiences and explores defining the body as a place. I liked playing around with the repeated use of the phrase “Thank You” and writing in such a unique, almost sci-fi voice.

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