“You’re so tan, you would look a look prettier if you stayed out of the sun!”
“Girls shouldn’t have scars, it makes you less attractive.”
If you’re reading those quotes and think they’re ridiculous, trust me, you’re not the only one. Being the eldest and only female child out of all my cousins had its perks, but also major cons when it came to how I dressed or acted. And yes, those are real quotes spoken to me before I was even eighteen years old.
A ‘girly’ girl is a weird term: some people used it as an insult, like many silly playground taunts you would hear in the 3rd grade. Some people used it as a way to push many girls like myself to fit a mold and stereotype of what a girl “should” be, many of which are based solely on our physical appearance.
I spent much of my young adult life caught between this idea of what I ‘should’ look or act like, only to realize after many, many years of dressing up in skirts when I really hated them, and trying to do my hair in a supposedly flattering way was that in reality – I don’t care much for being a girly girl.
Like being told to “smile more,” nothing is more frustrating than being told by someone to act a certain way in an effort to appease others, and as I slowly emerged into my own style, personality, and passions, I’ve come to realize that the problem wasn’t the words “girly,” but the connotations that come with it.
And I really don’t have to listen to any of it.
If there’s one word of advice I could offer any young girl who is tired of hearing that they should/shouldn’t dress or act a certain way, a young female professional entering the male dominated workforce, or another college student still trying to figure out if maybe, her style is being a ‘girly’ girl: don’t ever doubt yourself and who you are trying to become.
“If I stop to kick every barking dog I am not going to get where I’m going.” – Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Because here’s the truth: I hated wearing dresses in middle school mainly because I was told to wear them to look more feminine. I felt awkward speaking up in a classroom when I disagreed with a male classmate, though anyone who knows me now can tell you, I’m definitely no longer the type to sit quiet. There is no reason for anyone to not do, or try a new thing just because of the opinions of others.
I shouldn’t have to stop or deprive myself from experiencing something I may genuinely enjoy just because I didn’t want to fall into a stereotype that’s inherently wrong to begin with. Like getting weird looks when I brought Asian food to lunch in school – the judgement of others should not deter me from what I love, just because someone else isn’t used to it. (And now, the food that kids used to make ‘stinky’ comments about are now trending in an issue to cover for another time).
Once I realized that I didn’t actually mind a sundress here and there, or wearing blush and dressing up for myself while also being able to speak up whenever I wanted, the term ‘girly girl’ took on a whole new meaning.
Now, when I hear the words ‘girly’ or feminine, I know not only am I doing what I want on my own accord, but I look pretty good doing it.