To Carrie White, Signed with Pig's Blood
Dear Carrie White,
I met you for the first time when I was a teenager. You were played by Sissy Spacek in the 1976 Brian De Palma film that, to this day, I still swear by (even if there are problems with it). I remember being glued to the television while you bled in the school shower, my heart breaking while the other girls teased you for not knowing what was happening. You didn’t know what a pad was, had never used a tampon, and that moment—one that should have been celebrated—turned into a nightmare that you never recovered from. That scene imprinted on my mind so deeply that I still hear "plug it up" in my head when that time of the month rolls around. Like you, I grew up thinking menstruation was dirty, sinful, something to be ashamed of. As I grew up and the world started to change, I learned that wasn’t true, but for a long time, I sat in confusion, afraid that I wasn’t doing it right, that my body was turning against me, bleeding too much, not bleeding enough…
Oof. Being a teenage girl is not for the weak.
When I got older, I eventually met you on the page. It was a surreal experience, somehow even more terrifying. I watched you hide, repress. You were locked in closets, traumatized with scripture, hunted as a witch before they forced you to become one. I related to you now in different, more complicated ways. I started questioning my faith in my twenties, embracing my rage in my thirties. I trusted the wrong people, fought my way out of different closets, and while I have yet to move anything with my mind, I promise you that doesn’t stop me from trying. After all, learning to protect yourself takes time.
When I introduced you to my students, I felt like you and I were old friends, sisters trauma bonded and covered in blood. They told me you joined the good-for-her clique of horror icons and I agreed. In 2013, I watched you shift into Chloe Grace Moretz, but I continued to visit the original you over the years. Why? Because the version of you in your soft pink dress with your hair gently curled positively terrified me. You were a mirage, a doll, someone who tried so hard to fit in, to be the good girl and the obedient daughter that they lost sight of, who they really were. You pushed away all your wants and needs, your desires and hopes, and you played a game you had no chance of winning.
I know because I’ve done it.
I’d venture to say that most women have.
Stephen King might have invented you, but your rage is a collective representation for how (most) women have felt their entire lives. Beyond that, you’re a young adult story that we’ve all carried with us, and to some extent, have lived. You’re a cautionary tale of what bullying and abuse can do to someone’s psyche. You’re a reminder that no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors, and you’re a symbol of fury and regret, loss and guilt. When I watch you on screen, or reread your narrative, I’m always left thinking about how you’ve become so much more than a revenge story, than a portrait of the hysteric woman, and when they baptized you in blood, you weren’t alone.
We were all there with you.
Soaked, dripping, and humiliated.
All of us ready to scream.
If you’re experiencing violence or abuse in any way, please know you’re not alone:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
Bullying Crisis Line: Text 741741
To leave a comment