ON THE SACREDNESS OF STUFFED ANIMALS

ON THE SACREDNESS OF STUFFED ANIMALS

ON THE SACREDNESS OF STUFFED ANIMALS

Defending our right to own plushies!

As adults! I said what I said!

CASEY HUANG

You’re supposed to outgrow certain things when you get older. Pikachu socks, candy necklaces, stickers for earrings. Things that are meant to be played around with and discarded at a certain point. Like a rite of passage,  it’s almost like once you stop wanting those things, you are finally declared a “grown up” (at least, according to my mom). 

Ladies and gentlemen of the court, let me refute that. I don’t see a reason to label these things as childish. Pikachu socks? Still cute. Candy necklaces? Very convenient. Stickers for earrings? Graduated to putting them on my face as makeup now. But the one thing that is most important to my life now is something else entirely-- stuffed animals. I don’t remember when I got rid of all my stuffed animals (although it probably wasn’t me who chose to get rid of them, ahem), but with all the moving around when I was younger, I somehow lost all of them. It seems as if I strayed away from stuffed animals in my teenage years and started going back to them once I was in college when I was placed in a weird limbo between being an adult and a child. I went stuffed-animal-less for the majority of college until I finally caved and bought a Rilakkuma plushie at the Narita airport in Tokyo. I had wanted a stuffed animal for a long time, but I remember my mom in particular strongly advising against me owning stuffed animals. As she said, “you are no longer a child.” 

But I bought it anyway, and it is honestly one of the best purchases that I have made in the past four years. Just to give context to how valuable this little plushie is, once, when my friends and I were watching TV at my apartment, I wanted to hug my Rilakkuma and couldn’t find it. I panicked, and one of my friends pulled my Rilakkuma from under her back where she was using it as a pillow. That was one of the only times that I was on the verge of yelling at her, and she’s one of my closest friends. I bring it with me everywhere-- from one country to the next, to hug on airplanes, during scary movies, and for a while I even brought it down to the dinner table. It became somewhat of a crutch to me when I had to take those long flights and sleep in unfamiliar homes, or when I was scared. It was one constant, dependable object that I always brought with me wherever I was. In some ways, it’s closer and dearer to me than any other thing I own because it provides certain comfort. Plenty of my friends have the same kind of attachment to their stuffed animals as well--you can’t put your face up to it, you can’t use it as a back cushion, you can’t pull it too hard, etc. 

But liking them or owning stuffed animals doesn’t make me any less of a functional adult.

From there though, I spiraled into purchases of many more stuffed animals. A green panda, many BT21 plushies (from Koya to baby Kooky face plushies). I don’t think I’ve gotten too many yet, but it’s definitely time to stop blowing more money on them. But liking them or owning them doesn’t make me any less of a functional adult. I still go to work, submit my invoices, do my laundry, clean my house. I just happen to like my bed decorated with BT21 dolls and my TV lined with Sumikko Gurashi plushies. They bring me comfort more so than any of the other “adult” things I own (I mean, I love my diffuser but I don’t love it the same way).

You don’t ask “can I have this?” as much as “do I want this?” and it’s the absolute best part of growing up.  

It seems that the time when we are trying to be adults --especially our teenage years-- become a time for us to distance ourselves from the things that make us “childish” and gravitate towards being more like “adults.” That desire of wanting to be an adult lingers, but once you actually grow up you realize it’s not all that you think it is.  Once you’ve hit a certain age of actual adulthood, you more or less realize you can do whatever you want because it doesn’t really matter whether you are more childlike or not. You are simply no longer a child. You don’t quite have your parents telling you what you can and cannot do at every minute, and you realize that you can (kind of) bend their rules as you please. You become more and more independent, and spending money on cute stickers or plushies is completely okay because you fully have a say in it now. It’s strange, but it’s almost as if you dive even fully into who you really are by accepting your love for things others might classify as “childish.” You don’t ask “can I have this?” as much as “do I want this?” and it’s the absolute best part of growing up.  

My “childish” objects remind me that I dictate what brings me comfort and joy. 

My “childish” objects remind me that I can take ownership of my things now, and that I (not my mom) can dictate what brings me comfort and joy. I choose where I spend my money. There’s something comforting about hugging a stuffed animal, and it instantly calms me down. Plus, shouldn’t we want to retain what we can of our childhood? Such an easy and carefree time, a time when we didn’t have to worry about when to pay rent or tax season, times when we had bounds of curiosity and energy, and acted on them (rather than writing them in a manifestation journal). Like they say, you might age, but you never have to grow old. 

Looking for a way to return to childhood, to the things that brought you comfort, shouldn’t be something you outgrow. I’m glad I figured out a wellness routine of my own-- it’s the most adult thing to do. And, just for the record, I still hug my Rilakumma to sleep every night.

 

 

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