I didn’t wear pink until I was 23 years old. It was too girly for me. Growing up, my best friend was my brother. Throughout school, I was encouraged to compete academically and then professionally with impressive and charismatic men. If there’s one thing I didn’t want to do, it was wear pink.
Besides wanting to be taken seriously, I honestly thought a no-nonsense, emotionally unexpressive woman was the most attractive thing to a man. My guy friends told me how crazy they thought women were for getting caught up in romantic fantasies and emotional blubbery. Together we agreed that I was not like that. I wasn’t girly.
One man’s perspective of girly-girls is comically satired in the Sh*t Girls Say viral video on Youtube. He puts on a wig and many (adorable) dresses, looking a little too good in lipstick and heels. I laughed hysterically, recognizing the truth in such statements as, “get these chips away from me,” and, “that poor dog needs water!” Still, something bothered me about it. It was the fact that it was called, “Sh*t.”
Uniquely feminine expressions are referred to as trash, refuse, waste. Why do we interpret being a girl as a bad thing?
Men aren’t the only ones mocking girly-ness. In a Kelly Clarkson song, she tells her boyfriend in the second verse:
“Now you’re up in arms because I say we’re not working out – You wonder if I loved you from the start well I tell you what – I knew a guy who changed my world – And then he grew to a little girl.”
Finally she breaks out into her pop-star anthem chorus singing, “Don’t Be A Girl About It.”
Don’t be a girl about it. And it’s supposed to be cute because it’s coming from a girl. Think about what is really being said by this statement. She is communicating that being ridiculous, unreasonable and irrationally emotional are the essence of our sex. Yet Kelly comes across sounding almost empowered when essentially she’s saying, “HA! Now YOU’RE the weak one…like a girl!”
We are all guilty of this subliminal subversion. We don’t say, “you’re too sensitive,” we say, “you’re such a girl,” much like we would say, “you’re an idiot,” in a condescending way.
What has gone wrong here? The strength of a woman is now viewed as her weakness. A woman’s great strength is her vulnerability. This is a delicate, deep and important revelation to wrap our heads around. My strength is my softness.
This softness flourishes in a caring environment: which is difficult to come by. Instead, we have been taught to weather the elements by getting rid of our vulnerability. Much of this is because men are not protecting us but taking advantage. I realize, this goes against years of feminist progressive thought that says we don’t need men. That is another topic altogether. My point is, instead of trying to buck girly stereotypes, why aren’t we bucking the stereotype that being a girl is a bad thing?
We are the delicate beauties. The dust twice refined. We are more emotional and freer with our tears, laughter and hugs. We can empathize with strangers and are fierce protectors of children. We are harborers and sustainers of new life. We can believe in the impossible and never give up.
While all of these are female stereotypes some of us will be angry that I mentioned, why don’t we take a moment and ask ourselves why it makes us angry. It is that very anger that I’m addressing. Why are any of these things bad and why would we not want them to be characteristic of our sex?
Think about it this way. If I were writing to men and said, “You are strong protectors and providers. You are fashioned to lead and flourish in courageous endeavors. You are builders of buildings and climbers of mountains,” would they be deeply offended? Why should they be? These are all positive. They are all necessary for humanity. No, not all of them are true of everyone and do not limit the totality of each man individually. But they are particularly celebrated in men.
Now, ladies. Could it be that we are indoctrinated to not celebrate the uniqueness of our gender? And could it be that this indoctrination IS FROM WOMEN, perpetuated BY US?
I am pleading guilty to doing this without even realizing it. Every time I apologize for being “such a girl,” I am inadvertently undermining my sex because I’m insecure about my vulnerability. When I say someone else is “such a girl,” I imply I am less like a girl therefore more like a man and therefore better. THAT is what is truly shameful; that I feel more empowered as a woman when I feel more like a man. Are you guilty of the same?
One small step that can break this cycle is eradicating the term, “such a girl,” from our language. We should not say it about ourselves, our friends, our families or even our enemies. It is a manipulative tool to silence our emotions through shame in our gender. If a woman OR MAN acts solely on emotion instead of wisdom and common sense, we say this person is a fool, not a girl.
The term we should be using for one another is, “quite a woman,” remembering that when we feel, particularly for others, we are uniquely and divinely expressing our humanity.
I still don’t wear pink. Not because I don’t want to look girly but because I just don’t like it. But I unapologetically cry in front of men I respect when I hear about injustices. It is my unique, sincere, and divine expression of God’s heart, empowering me because I’m quite a woman.
What is yours?