Some days, trying to be a doll isn't exciting or fun or even nice. Today, I don't feel so great. I've had a hard week and I'm a bit low on energy and generally low in and of myself. This means that the doll and myself are currently at odds. The same pleasures that I usually derive from preparing and preening start to mean something quite different. Because the doll is perfect, she makes me imperfect. Each bit of body maintenance that I need to do in order to create her blank, pristine slate is an act of penance paid for not always being this beautiful. Dressing up stops being fun. It starts to become a disguise to cover something that needs hiding.
Of course, these are all part of the tropes that I knew I was engaging with when I starting this project, and that there would be difficulties, particularly with regards to my own feminist beliefs and values. Concepts of "beauty", "perfection" and the body politic are part of the project. It was obvious to me from the start that I would playing in a world of enhanced gender stereotypes. The doll is, in most of her forms, an exaggerated and grossly overblown facet of different sorts of socially constructed feminities. I know her to be unreal and unattainable and also a false definition of any sort of womanhood. She is also, always, always fake. Non-human. Alien. I had hoped that this knowledge would protect me from any uncomfortable feelings towards this type of play, that because she is such a fake I would be untouchable, unreachable behind that mask.
But I'm not. Because a latex skin is not very thick. Thinner still is a layer of make-up. And the stereotypes from which the doll is derived are also very real and present in the world in which I live. As long as I identify as both woman and female, they will affect me on a day-to-day basis whether I chose to be a doll or not. The doll merely exemplifies and enhances them - she brings them to the fore.
What I suppose I wasn't prepared for was the effect that playing a doll can have on my self-worth. The difficulty with anything that plays upon identity is that it problematises your own. Although I often refer to the doll as a mask, it's a mask that leaves marks, soaking into the skin a little, mingling with my own sense of self. The desire to wear the mask comes from me: being a doll is not an externally imposed activity, it's very much my own kink, however the type of mask i.e. what the doll looks like and how it behaves does not always come directly from myself. The doll project is about me being very self-consciously into "not-me". A lot of my kink stems from being subsumed and erased in order to simply experience. In that respect the doll is very powerful and very exciting. But when I start to genuinely think about myself and my own desirability, about whether people like me or find me interesting the fact that I play as a doll can make that difficult. After all, might it not be the doll identity which is the one that is desired, rather than my own? As I put on her form, I erase myself in order to be wanted, taken, fucked. So here's the worry - when I am a doll and my partners play with me in that form, who do they desire: the image I am projecting or the person who is projecting that image?
Then there is problem of overlap. Obviously, the doll is made from me, and in that sense, we are the same person. There are things that I do for myself, that I also do as to put on my doll persona - if the doll is fake, then surely the parts of me that I share with her are also fake? A simple example would be waxing. I like being smooth, I don't like fuzz. Dolls aren't fuzzy, either. We're both faking at being perfect with the one exception - the doll is the aspiration level I'm trying to live up to.
On most days, in better moods, being smooth and soft makes me happy, it makes me feel good and I think it makes me look good. On a bad day, I see imperfections, I see strands of hair where there shouldn't be, little nicks or marks in my skin that mar the overall effect. What I see is not a human being with the normal, natural flaws that anyone has, outside of a perma-airbrushed expensive advert. I see myself failing to become that perfected, desired entity that I want to be.