Such a Girl

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?

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18 Responses to Such a Girl

  1. Lyndsay Wilkin says:

    This message is so profound and helpful in a culture of women who have a hard time figuring out how to love themselves as women. Thank you so much for writing this. One of my favs.

    • I’m a man. and here’s what I have come to understand. In Genesis, where God said He would make a helper for man, it was not someone to cook and clean and scrub while man goes off and plays golf. It is true that women have a nesting instinct, a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment if their family is well fed and clothed, and they excel in whatever they attempt, be it school, or work. Men are the hunter/gatherer/soldier/protector. Not alot of nesting needed for those pursuits. And neither are interpersonal relationships. Women have an innate understanding of interpersonal relationships. They make good friends much easier than men, and tend to have friendships that last much longer.
      As I understand it, men are supposed to learn how to do intimate, interpersonal relationships from the women in his life. Without it, men make only superficial bonds with their children, and wives/girlfriends. The ultimate goal of this construct is that men would learn how to love their families, and especially, how to love God. And we learn how to do it from the women in our lives. That’s God’s intent for our “helper”.

  2. So good. I feel like I was more guilty of this before I got married. But my husband is a wonderful man who allows me to be sensitive and loving and romantic and soft. And I feel safe to do so. This makes me think about my daughters and the example and words I use with them. Thank you for sharing… and pink looks good on you.

  3. Faith Gong says:

    Great thoughts! Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Stephanie Powell says:

    Just yesterday after church I was thinking about the very concept of being soft and feminine and vulnerable–about having someone make you feel that way–like you want to be that way, and how different it is from the way so many of us live and think about ourselves. I was greeting at church and in comes a father with his son and daughter-in-law. I had never me them before. The men were wearing cowboy hats, but took them off when they came in. They stopped as if they were genuinely interested in meeting me, looking me kindly in the eyes and respectfully addressing me as ma’am each time they spoke. To top it off they had great Texas accents! In the presence of such strong and kind manhood all I wanted to do was melt into a pile of soft, feminine trust and sweetness. It was such a safe feeling, and I realize that I spend a lot of time being strong and tough because I’m used to men not being that kind of men. I realize too, that I have grown up with the idea that it’s good to be a strong woman who can take care of herself and not need a man–what were these women’s libbers thinking?!

    • “all I wanted to do was melt into a pile of soft, feminine trust and sweetness.”

      … love it!!!

      i think we/re living in the fallout from the pendulum that swung too far. there is real male oppression of women that happens worldwide and we swung away from that toward self-reliance and hatred of men. it is so deeply sad to me. neither are right and it’s so hard to find that delicate, perfect balance. some of us are prone closer to one side than another. a lot of that has to do with the men in our lives. my prayer is that we have compassion for one another and humility to know God’s perfect intention despite what our culture tells us is ‘normal.’

  5. Love this. Steph, you are brilliant. You should be writing more!

  6. I am beyond in love with this article stephie – it is the very essence of what i love to fight for in women and un ashamedly live in my core being. The strength of a women IS indeed in her hazy softness, her delicate tears and her fierceness when standing up for justice. I WILL be sharing this on facebook so all the cool kids in the UK get a piece of this dreamy truth!

  7. Beth Hamstra says:

    This is beautifully written. Well done. I remember several years ago having a similar epiphany: “God made me a woman on purpose.” I don’t have to act like a man. I am not less because I am a woman. I need to fully embrace who GOD uniquely made me to be…he doesn’t make mistakes. I am quite a woman!

    …And as a result of the epiphany I started wearing pink sometimes. 😉

  8. Anonymous says:

    Lacy Johnson-Farrow Just know that femininity SHOULD be wielded like a sword !! It is armour in the steady mind of a woman.It is what humans seek
    to find comfort and renewed strength.
    If wearing pink and being feminine is lost on those who feel femininity is weak . Remember , you usually go crying to your MOTHER when things are stormy .What do you think you are seeking?
    Love , The Pinkster ♥

  9. Lacy Johnson-Farrow Just know that femininity SHOULD be wielded like a sword !! It is armour in the steady mind of a woman.It is what humans seek
    to find comfort and renewed strength.
    If wearing pink and being feminine is lost on those who feel femininity is weak . Remember , you usually go crying to your MOTHER when things are stormy .What do you think you are seeking?
    Love , The Pinkster ♥

  10. Steph! Thanks for writing this article! I was thinking that statements like “stop being such a girl” were originally directed toward men who were not portraying strong, masculine traits. It causes women to be seen as ‘weak’ in order to build up the ego of a man, but it also causes men to not be comfortable with themselves if they are not naturally feeling masculine the way that culture defines it. We want to hear more on this topic soon, Stephie! Have you ever seen the documentary “Tough Guise”? – it’s so good. Analyzes masculinity- culturally and psychologically.

  11. Bridget Brewster says:

    Well written, Steph. Love it and you.

  12. Meagan says:

    This is amazing.

  13. bring it, girl! this was worth reading!

  14. i have been thinking about this since i read it. so so good. trying to internalize it and figure it out but it’s a complex issue. great great article.

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