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Literature / I Was a Teenage Fairy

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I Was a Teenage Fairy is a young-adult novel written by Francesca Lia Block. The protagonist, Barbie, is a dissatisfied daughter of a Stage Mom who pushes her into modeling as a child. Her only real ally is a tiny fairy who offers her advice and companionship.

I Was a Teenage Fairy provides examples of the following trope:

  • A-Cup Angst: Barbie is frequently criticized for having small breasts. This makes sense, however, since she is a very slender model and large breasts would be unnatural on her frame.
  • Better than Sex: Griffin's night flight with Mab, according to him.
  • Buffy Speak: Barbie and Mab's private code. A "biscuit" is an attractive man; a "crocodile" is someone they hate.
  • The Casanova: Todd.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The camera Todd gives to Barbie on their first night together is later used to photograph Waverly groping a little boy, providing evidence that brings him to trial.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Hamilton Waverly sexually abuses both Barbie and Griffin.
  • Disappeared Dad: Barbie's father.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Barbie's mother changes their name, Markowitz, to "Marks", which deeply offends Barbie's father and contributes to the reasons for her parents' divorce.
  • Don't Do Anything I Wouldn't Do: Subverted.
    Mab: (as Barbie prepares for a party) Do everything I would do.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Todd's body is covered with the names of girls he has been in relationships with before. At the end of the novel, he commits to Barbie but the tattoos are still there.
  • Fairy Companion
  • Fairy Sexy
  • Gayngst: Griffin believes Waverly's abuse is his own fault for being gay.
  • Hippie Parents: Todd ascibes his "freewheeling" nature to them.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Barbie's mother "won Miss San Fernando Valley in 19... let's just say I was a winner!".
  • Incompatible Orientation: Griffin loves Todd who is heterosexual.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Griffin, either by Mab's magical web or by Todd and Barbie.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Todd becomes one when he meets Barbie.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: A variation with Barbie and Griffin; even though she's in love with Todd and vice versa, her possible Imaginary Friend loves Griffin, and they bcome a Beta Couple to Todd and Barbie for a while until after Griffin's attempted suicide, when Mab decides to find him a human lover instead.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's left deliberately vague whether Mab exists, or whether she's a manifestation of Barbie's (and Griffin's) anger, courage and hope.
  • Meaningful Name: Barbie's name represents her entrapment within the life of a model.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Todd in-universe, since he's a famous actor.
  • Pen Name: At the end of the book, Barbie publishes her photographs of Mab under the name Selena Moon.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Ashley, Todd's (mostly) ex-girlfriend, threatening Barbie to "watch it, Miss Thang".
  • Replacement Goldfish: Blatantly lampshaded in that way only great fairy tales can get away with. Mab actually scouts Los Angeles' gay neighborhood for a man to replace Todd in Griffin's affections, and finds one who is not only handsome, but creative, romantic, able to see fairies due to Rape as Backstory, and HIV-negative. He's also part Asian.
  • Shiksa Goddess: Barbie's Gentile mother to her Jewish father, though the "goddess" aspect has worn off considerably over the years.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mab for Todd/Barbie and Griffin/Damian.
  • Shout-Out: To the Clap Your Hands If You Believe moment in Peter Pan.
  • The Snark Knight: Mab
  • Stage Mom: Barbie's mother names her after a plastic doll in hopes that Barbie will become a beautiful model (and not much else).
  • There Are No Therapists: Barbie's self-harm (dragging her knuckles against a wall to make them bleed), reckless behavior (hitchhiking with men after dark) and occasional argument with Mab in someone else's hearing go unnoticed.

    Subverted in the end, when prompted by Barbie's book of fairy photographs, Mrs. Marks goes to see a therapist herself. She turns out to have been deliberately ignoring Barbie's problems in order to suppress her memories of her stepfather's abuse. The therapist may or may not be a grown-up version of Mab.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Barbie and Mab, mostly due to Mab's tendency to bluntly and sarcastically state the things that Barbie is afraid to acknowledge.
  • Zen Survivor: Barbie