In Between the Pink…

There she sits, in between the glitz and supposed glamour of Barbie Doll. On the pink Aisle, if in stock. The most popular doll in the Christmas Season. An Autistic Zombie! Yes, you did read that correctly, that link is a flash page though when it loads on my slow to load computer, the meta data appears to be set up so that people with readers can play too. I may be wrong since I use just a magnifier.  Ghoulia Yelps is also the best friend of THE Popular Girl, which of course in a high school setting makes her Popular too.

 

I found myself fascinated with these dolls in a way that has hit only once before, with Batman. I remember being worried someone would find out I loved Batman when I was small, so that they would then destroy the entirety of all he was. I had no conception of how big he was until I was old enough to indulge. At the moment, the toys I have are comic book related. After the Winter Holiday Season of Shopping HORROR is over and the toys restock, and prices fall… I am going to get Monster High Dolls. This may be less expensive than the monthly DC release temptation. On average before the Christmas Gouging began, they were fifteen USD. Mattel doesn’t even have the dolls on their site, and every where I have poked the internet people are talking about Ghoulia.

 

I think a part of my connecting here is not just my indecent love of puns for names, which if it wasn’t cruelty to animals and they had accepted would have ended with the cat my carer just got today via “Oh hai strange black kitty rubbing on our legs and stealing the ham from my hand” (verified homeless, a girl, and starved to the point of human interaction) would have been named… Malinda Pettigrew! The name may happen, M my friend thinks it’s horrible but loves me anyway. He also promised me a Ghoulia. He was willing to try and get her now, while the internet is full of others having a rabid reaction to these dolls.

Ghoulia isn’t the only Monster High doll that is a goth’s dream who just happens to be made VERY cool by her disability. Nope, lets go over the list. I will not link you to their website again, but if you want to you can go play games there afterwards. Frogger… I mean…Froggie Dash, and a few others. I’ve had too too much fun and now want a color lazer printer for all sorts of printing of useless but amusing stuff.

The Main Character, meant to be the Barbie (since this IS Mattel) is Frankie Stein, she’s sewn together from various parts of other dolls and is of course the daughter of the professors who created both Frank and his Bride, and they consider her Frankenstein’s kid. Being stitched together, with visible stitches, hands that fly off and do things on their own (creating the amputation effect) and being only 15 days old? How is this one not disabled? In a way she has to learn all her social skills from scratch, she could be equated with some forms of Amnesia, surgical scars, and she even has mismatched eyes and a visible assistive device (Bolts in her neck for charging). This is also what makes her, as Mattel is calling it. “Freaky Fabulous.”Oh yeah and her limbs flying off at inopportune moments? Couldn’t that be dislocations? Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome does cause skin splits and dislocations. Frankie Stein are you super flexible?

On each Bio, each doll (even Miss Popular Cleo de Nile) has a Freaky Flaw. This is of course related to their being monsters. There is another feature which my need for the picture on the box to actually match the Doll or I have trouble accepting they are meant to be the same (I am looking at you Bratz) is not a problem with. These dolls actually DO look like their boxes. I’ve never seen such quality. Or so many casket shaped items. Some of the announced accessories have me flailing in glee, literally, because I can go to walmart and buy a casket/coffin shaped …. Jewelry Box!

In fact, I already accidentally bought something Monster High and had not understood what it was. The post Halloween Clearance socks I bought, pink argyle with little crossbones, were indeed branded Monster high. They are also my favorite arm warmers, and alas… I am babbling. Back to dissecting the disabilities of these delectable dolls!

Skipping to Cleo de Nile, daughter of the Mummy… Cleo is not as white as I expected, since the mainstream Media usually casts a woman as white as me to play Cleopatra types. Cleo is more of a honey color, but she is clearly not a white woman. This is impressive, considering how racist Mattel can be. I won’t link you, you can go find all the Barbie’s that are sold as “Ethnic” or all of the black and hispanic Barbies named Keysha who come with a hair salon, which I can’t find for the life of me with a white Barbie… (Yes, that’s… what? Mattel BAD!)

Cleo is the “Rich Bitch” of the cast. There are some very cliche things going on here, some gender reifications though these dolls also rebel in many ways or at least make mainstream toys I like. More on that later. Cleo’s bio has a flaw as she refers to herself as Exotic, which is in my experience in the media a key word for racism and the fetishising of people of color. Leopard print, Faux Mendhi or anything not white bread tends to be called Exotic. This made me a bit uncomfortable with Cleo so it took me longer to admit I really like her. She also is only sold with her boyfriend. Guess she is codependent or he is at least till they get home and the box is cut up. (I want to keep the little skull logos. Heeh!) She is afraid of the dark. Her disability is less concrete than the lovely Ghoulia’s autism or Frankie’s hands running away however she is someone who is always in bandages. That’s about it, but this bootiful character IS afraid of the dark.

Cleo’s boyfriend, who if I have my way will be dating Jackson Jeckyl or Holt Hyde (whichever I get first), is Duece (as in Medusa) Gorgon. Son of Medusa. He has a snakey Mohawk, scales on his arms, and a thousand yard stare that turns anyone he looks at, regardless of them looking back, temporarily to stone. This gives us a few disabilities. Psorisis or any other visible skin condition. This could be from bad acne on through even some scarring. He’s the most popular guy in Monster High except someone who I will mention later. He also has to wear sunglasses at ALL times. This could be taken to the route of vision issues, but at the very least it marks him as other.

 

Next up on the list is… Clawdeen Wolf. Daughter of the Werewolf. She is the first doll I wanted, before I saw Ghoulia. Frankly if you don’t know it… I am a werewolf lover. I dressed up as one for Howloween and the entire concept was fairly similar to a certain miss Clawdeen. Clawdeen is a person of color, so in the initial line up we have… Two for Two. She’s a black woman. This means you don’t have to fight Mattel for dolls of color. There are two defined this way by the company. Of course they are trying to hint that all of the dolls are nonwhite, since some are green, blue, gray etc. I think this is good and bad, but none the less there is no dancing around. Clawdeen is Cleo’s main rival but they are still considered friends.

The main issue that Clawdeen has is what she considers excessive bodyhair. This is her freaky flaw, shampoo commercial hair… everywhere. This is another one that I felt that “Oh just like me!” with. That’s most of the dolls getting the differences sympathetic jump in my brain. I happen to be a person with what society deems too, too much body hair. When I was younger I was teased mercilessly over this. so, Clawdeen does have a disability as most often hirsuitism is based on medical things. Perhaps she has Polycystic Ovarian disease or Endometriosis and she really howls at the moon because her periods are more than a small pain?

My least favorite of the characters, who I still want (so I can steal her clothes for Ghoulia’s War…drobe…) is Lagoona Blue. She’s the Aussie surfer type, everyone’s best friend. She is laid back and is the daughter of the Sea Monster, though I would’ve thought with her name, the creature from the Blue Lagoon. It could be a copyright issue there, but as you can see these dolls should also appeal to the horror movie nerds that are out there. Oh wait… I am one of those too! Lagoona’s flaws for my liking her? She is just another blonde and the fauxguru thing is a stereotype I suspect my Australian friends don’t like. I could ask them but… that’d just be silly. I have yet to meet anyone who likes being stereotyped.

On to her disability analogy. Lets start with the one that may be either super obvious to you or makes you go”Huhwhat?” Asthma. She’s a fish out of water! Lagoona has fins, so she could also be part of the birth defects that are visible listing, and well she is blue so circulation is obviously a problem. She also has dry skin problems and again, scales. Lagoona’s must have item? Moisturizer. She is listed as an Exchange Student at Monster High, so she’s also a fish out of water in other ways. I still like Lagoona but she just doesn’t connect well with me, what with her liking the sun with it’s shining…

 

That brings us to the doll that started my knowing about these young ghouls. Draculaura. I saw the name on Facebook, someone’s daughter is wanting one and it’s a little too late to get Draculaura now, so the parental lamenting had begun. I googled the name and stepped right into the halls of Awesome. Draculaura took some time for me to decide to be okay with partly because of all the fricking pink, it tastes like literal poop to me. So I struggle. There’s enough black and other coloring that the reaction isn’t so bad. In fact the pink issue has me a bit worried about going to buy my dollies in the future because they are on that …Pink…Aisle… in the toy section and I don’t want to just send M the carer, because picking out your own is half the fun I think. I’ve not had a doll I liked before, except the specialty Goth stuff such as Evangeline Ghastly (not linked because her prices are more horrifying than her theme or lack of diversity. She’s white, white, and even whiter). I never really felt that the Living Dead Dolls were that great. I am not much for BABY dolls…

So I will face the aisle so I an get my fangs on them. So, Draculaura, the most goth fashionably…. I want her umbrella for real, the Monster High Umbrella just doesn’t do it for me with the skull. I like Bats. Not just Bat man but the bats in general are pleasing to me. Bats and Butterflies… someday I will have an outfit themed in such a way. Well Draculaura is a vampire, who is terrified of Blood. She’s vegan, lives on fruits and veggies while taking supplements. Saying or hearing Blood, not even seeing it, is enough to make her faint. I think that’s adorable and it does show something often ignored when a character is going vegetarian or vegan. Vitamin supplements are necessary to help with survival and health.

Since I am often accused of being a vampire by random people on the street because I myself need to hide from the sun or fry crispy, I do like little Ula D, as her nickname happens to be. Her disability could be many things. Just side effects of medication making her sun sensitive, carrying the albinism gene, porphyria (though she’d have to have multiple types for the full effects of vampirism). Plus there’s a disorder that exists where you cannot identify faces, even your own, in the mirror. So that fits.

Now there are more dolls and characters than listed on the website. There are a pair of guys I am listing in one category because… Jeckyll Jeckyll Hyde, Hyde, Hyde Jeckyll

 

Jackson Jeckyll and Holt Hyde…

 

Jackson is a casketball player, and the very human best friend of Duece Gorgon. He happens to have the same tattoo, yin yang symbol, and piercing as Holt Hyde.

Holt is a bit of a bad boy, he has blue skin and fire for hair. Both he and Jackson have classic symptoms of Multiple personality disorder, including black outs, memory lapses, and so on. Holt is the school DJ. I am not sure if this is a positive portrayal but Holt doesn’t seem to be evil, which is a good thing.

Some of the characters not turned into dolls yet so no bio availible (but they are coming)

Spectra Vondergeist, daughter of the ghost. She can do ghostly things like floating through walls.

Abby bominable, an exchange student from up north.

Operetta, the offspring of the Phantom of the Opera who has been on a date with Holt. I don’t like her name but it could be worse…

Oh yeah, and.. the most popular person, big man on campus, is … Clawd Wolf, Clawdeen’s big brother. The undolled characters are mentioned in the story books that come under the guise of a diary with each doll. The first issue (regular clothing) dolls all have them. I am not sure what they have for the Dawn of the Dance dolls or Gloom Beach instead but I am sure it’s something just as cool.

So, incase you didn’t follow the link to the flash website with Ghoulia’s Bio… let me tell you about her. You tell me if you think she’s not autistic.

Ghoulia Yelps — a zombie. Her parents are not named but played in the music video Thriller by Michael Jackson. She has light blue hair and pale gray skin. Her appearance is very studious and she wears glasses. She is depicted as timid and shy and could only speak Zombie (basically groaning; a possible reference to the ghouls from the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead and other films from the Living Dead film series. She is also the smartest girl in Monster High. She has a baby blue colored owl named Sir Hoots-a-Lot.

Glasses wearing Ghoulia is the smartest Ghoul in school. She cannot function properly without a schedule and doesn’t process last minute changes very well. Her zombie nature makes her a bit slower physically, and she has trouble making facial expressions and can only speak zombie.

She loves to read and learn new things, she always fits books into her schedule.

Her pet peeve:

Last minute schedule changes and Monsters who cannot speak zombie. There is nothing quite so frustrating as arriving late and having to explain why to a monster that doesn’t understand you.

A direct quote from her bio that is another hint of the ASD:
Favorite Food:
Brains… just kidding. I actually have quite the affinity for rapidly prepared, mass market cuisine. (Translation: I like fast food.)

She likes all her classes and her favorite color is red.

 

So there it is… my new obsession. I have spent days pouring myself into the internet to glean tidbits about these dolls. I am going to sew them clothing, I already know they come with dollstands but if they are in their shoes they can stand alone, they are posable, seen the cartoons on youtube, decided despite it’s pop quality I like the music video… and… that a lot of depth was given over to these dolls. Between their attempts at normal such as fashionable clothing and bodies that are so weird looking my response is, “Well they must have been genetically engineered that way”… there is depth. They aren’t all boy hungry, the attempts at life lessons in the cartoons are pretty cute, and if these had existed when I was a kid? I would’ve been torn between wanting one and trying to pretend I hated them because of my family.

Still, the popular kid is autistic.

I will warn you, if you share this info with your friends, children, and such and they love these dolls… check comments on sites because a lot of people are complaining about Ghoulia’s speaking zombie. These people seem to forget that not everyone gets to speak. A nonverbal character in what is likely to be a TV series, a movie is being made… so not just “high functioning” but… average autistic…

I am definately sold on Monster High. Besides, in trying to find out what is for sale (iCoffin anyone?) I find hilarious things that make me think someone at mattel has seen one too many episodes of the Godfather. Like so. Freaky beheaded horse! A final warning, right now the MH dolls are being marked up to fifty online. Just wait till after the restocking post holidays. They average fifteen to twenty, and if you can be patient which isn’t easy you can afford more dollies! Oh and feel free to send any extra dolls you find my way!

Here are some links to the media online about Monster High. No place out of this blog is guaranteed safe but I had no issues:

MonsterHigh.com – Flash site. Signing up lets you get activity sheets etc. Addictive.

MonsterHigh on Facebook: Has some unique content, such as a Ghoul to English translation. Most are obvious such as Biteology being biology but this is a place to glean more info.

The Youtube Series: The music video with words like Freaky Fabulous, and the short cartoons (skip the thirty second videos, they are teasers of the next episode)

The Halloween Special from one of the cable networks.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Advocacy (Trigger Warning)

In conversation with one of my young friends I had a revelation. This was about thirty seconds ago. Sometimes advocating triggers flashbacks while I am trying to function. My mind lept then to other people who have to self advocate through PTSD symptoms. It isn’t always a flash back. If you do not have PTSD it might be harder for you to understand being jerked around by past trauma. Therefore I am going to explain, and this is why there is a trigger warning on this post. Sometimes reading about PTSD or other issue related things can trigger people.

This is not from the DSM (Diagnostic Manual thingy) but is from my experience. I may leave things out that apply to you or tell you things that don’t. The problem with labels is they are often not enough to truly explain what something means. Lets say someone shoots a gun. My first impulse is to be very still, not breathing, and praying that my father won’t make the shot. Even typing that sentence my head went into the land of fuzz and my chest is tight. I am taking slow breaths to focus and clear my mind. The trigger is not always a gun but just a loud pop. My brain is stuck on certain points of the abuse I suffered, it has a programmed loop that it likes to play. I have warning symptoms for my flashbacks now, and can often circumvent them.

My reality is in jeopardy from these loops. the weakest symptom is a tingle, intense fear, sometimes I start randomly bleeding. Why do I bleed? One theory a psychologist offered is somatic symptomalogy. Basically my body remembers, and it reacts so strongly to what my brain signals, that it thinks it is injured. This adds to the pain I feel. The pain from invisible injuries is far from phantom. I feel it. The next step after that is the sensation that I am floating, I disassociate and can see the entire world, but I am not connected to it. Usually I then go back in time. I see and feel at the same time, from multiple vantage points my father with his brand new gun, me and my siblings on the couch. I feel the cold metal of the gun pressing against my forehead. My nose stings with the tears I cannot shed.

The loud bang comes, I feel the heat of the bullet, my skin is burned by muzzle flash and I feel a horrible pain as the bullet grazes my temple. I don’t move. I don’t scream. I just stare up into that black hole, smoke pouring out of it and avoid looking into my father’s eyes, knowing he is going to be angry that he missed. I hear every word he screams again, how worthless I am, how I should be dead and must have moved. My sister starts to scream, my brother too but I can’t move. I look into his eyes and I see the blackness.

I still do not remember what happens next, though I have been told he decided to shoot at my sister, but I pushed her aside. I just know he tried to shoot his children, sitting on a couch that smelled like pee, and nearly killed his neighbor because the bullet went off. The cops were called but I took the blame. I said I was playing with his gun when it went off. I lied, to survive.

When I come back to myself I always want to vomit. Instead I focus on breathing. If the nausea is really bad I will take some Rolaids. Sometimes now, after years of effort, I let myself cry. Usually I manage a tear but my brain has yet to grasp the concept of tears. If I am not at home, it is worse to recover. At home I control my environment, I have a bed to curl up in, two soft fluffy cats, and my Person can go elsewhere more easily giving me the time I need to recover.

When I am advocating and flash back, I never know what to do. I try different things, and usually they work but the vulnerability can be debilitating. I flashed back my first time having to seriously advocate to that scene. That is why I chose to relate it to try and explain what PTSD is like. I wish I had simpler words but none can encapsulate just how much there is to it. Sometimes the flashes are different, sometimes I am still an adult but I am trapped, it is worse in some ways because I still feel the pain but I am completely aware that my world has vanished. I am never certain if I am going to hurt someone. I have before, but it has been a long time.

That first taste of advocacy was so bitter. The cops came, and one fondled his gun and my brain shut down. I was afraid, in pain and exhausted. I was being yelled at and deprived of my prescription because I needed my service animal. The cops even saw Sprite follow her training. When I flash she has three tasks, beyond her instinct to comfort me. First, she signals to my Person for help. Sometimes a conversation can end it. So she chirruped at the person of the day, and I had to form the words, “I need you to deal with them for me. I can’t.” Then, she helps me to sit. I had to wait fifteen minutes for a chair, I wanted to scream at them but I tried to stay calm. I was hyperventilating, they took this as my being dramatic. Then, she moves to my shoulder. Her instinct is to sit on my chest, but she might get flung there, I do not handle pressure on my chest well even when not panicking or flashing. Her instincts tell her to purr, to rub with just her face against mine. This grounds me.

The police threatened to arrest me if I did not leave the facility. I knew enough to know they couldn’t but they refused to acknowledge that I had rights. I couldn’t fight, but I had to. I chose then to repeat the law over and over. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t see their real faces for half the time. All I saw was my father and his eyes that reflected no light.

What can you do if you have PTSD and are an advocate? Here is the how to portion.

Step 1. Before you get to the point of advocating, have a support structure. This is a difficult process, because not every person can truly understand what it is to lose your reality. You need to have someone you trust availible, at least to call.

Step 2. If you have medications used to treat the symptoms of your PTSD in an emergency make sure to carry them with you, to keep a back up dose with your support person, and to keep your doctors number handy.

Step 3. Create a kit of items that help forestall your flashbacks. Nothing works for me beyond my cat. I can give her the signal she is trained for when i feel the warnings coming and ground. This is all I have right now, beyond my Person. No meds, just those two.

Step 4. Remember to breathe. Sometimes if you focus on just breathing you can help yourself.

Step 5. If you flash back during advocacy, try and focus on the responses that do not match the memory. This has worked for others, pulling them out.

Step 6. Advocate anyway. I did get the illegal policy over turned at the Pharmacy where I was threatened with arrest. I had to fight for a long time to do it, but, they relented. It is worth it even though it you might feel endangered or might BE endangered by your flashbacks.

Step 7. If you have to, stop. This opposes Step 6. Not every incident can be worked through. You might need to call your therapist, you might need to let your support person advocate for you. This is not a failing, this is merely the team network that advocacy should be.

I am glad to write this how to. I never considered how important it could be, but, in my mind my broken back, my asthma, and my failing eyes are not my most dangerous disability. The worst disability I have is PTSD. At times during flashbacks I have hurt myself, my friends, and reliving the painful memories can also cost me emotional, physical, or mental progress.

Keep in mind the time you are most fragile is just after a flash back. Some people can be triggered more easily, often it is easier to react in rage. Do not minimize your pain either. It is okay to cry, scream, and sometimes to just walk away.

I have done all of the above. Not every incident with advocating will cause a flashback either. Most of my time advocating I am left with memories of victory. My first taste of advocacy is as sweet as it is bitter, because I still succeeded, despite my unabiding terror of these men. My greatest cause was also revealed to me. I am actively fighting to get the local police trained in how to deal with enforcing the ADA. I want my rights protected, I do not want to fear being put in jail, dumped out of my wheelchair and my service animal being put into Animal Control’s care.

That was the threat, and so often is. My heart goes out to any other advocates who suffer from PTSD. I know each person’s PTSD is varied, some may not flash back, some might just panic. Others might not be able to stop their flashes. You can still advocate. Just prepare yourself as best you can.

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