As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had an affinity for all things “girly”. I like pink sparkly manicures, squeal when I’m around baby animals and sometimes I just giggle like a maniac whilst sipping on an overpriced chai latte. And as far back as I can remember, women have judged me for it.
Many of these women are intelligent, accomplished and self-proclaimed feminists – women I would admire if they didn’t lose my respect in three short sentences. “I’m not really a girly girl,” they often say. “In fact, I much prefer hanging out with guys. Girls can be so bitchy!” Whenever I hear someone utter these words, I shake a little in my stilettos. “Look who’s talking, you hypocrite!” I want to scream. But I don’t because I’m too dumbfounded.
I believe that women deserve to be treated with as much respect as men. I believe that we should get equal pay and equal opportunities. So yes, I am a feminist. The same brain which believes in equal rights for all humans can just as easily like fashion, rom-coms and cuddly puppies. Just because I look and behave like a “girly” girl, I should not be made to feel intellectually inferior by other women.I do understand where they’re coming from. When trying to sell their products to women, brands have a fool-proof marketing approach – wrap it in pink cellophane, put a photo of a skinny photoshopped 16-year-old on it, add a cutesy slogan and a gigantic bow… et voila! As a feminist, I know a radar should go off in my head, screeching “It’s a trap! Down with Big Brother!”. Alas, it does not. Instead my heartbeat quickens and my imagination goes on a wild trip into a rose-tinted universe.
By playing into the hands of advertisers and complying with society’s idea of what it means to be a pretty girl, I am helping perpetuate unhealthy stereotypes which are harmful to women worldwide and I’m fully aware of it. Am I a perfect feminist? No. I’m not a perfect anything and don’t pretend to be. But I love my fellow girls and try to support them as best as I can, despite my many shortcomings. If you patronise me for my love of “girly” things, however, you are so bad a feminist that I’m tempted to say you aren’t a feminist at all. Why? Because when you mock other women for something so minute as their love of Starbucks or affinity for all things sparkly, you are not only being unfair to them – you are undermining all the good work female rights advocates have been doing for centuries.
I may occasionally wear Barbie jumpers, but I’m not a fragile doll.
By saying things like “I can’t stand all those annoying girly girls” you are dismissing a big part of an entire gender based on arbitrary factors like fashion style and makeup preferences. Sure, I may travel with an impractically large pink suitcase – but that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. It does mean I’m not very good at packing strategically, but surely that’s not a good reason to look down on me?
No amount of unfair criticism could ever shake my dedication to feminism, but this is not true of everyone. Did you know that only a third of American women identify as feminists? Were you aware that people are twice as likely to consider calling someone a feminist to be an insult than a compliment? If you’re a woman who likes to deride her stiletto-donning, bodycon-wearing “girly” counterparts, you’re part of the reason why.I understand that we “girly” girls are incredibly lucky – we actually enjoy the “acceptable” options given to us by the patriarchy, however shallow and limiting they might be. But the whole fight for equality is not about eliminating those choices – merely about expanding the pool of possibilities. Women who refuse to conform to the cookie cutter female image offered to us by Western civilisation should not suffer for doing so. You should never be made to feel inferior because of your looks, gender, sexuality or race – and yes, this applies to men as well!
But those who, for whatever reason, choose to embrace the status quo should not be punished either. You should not be patronised for wearing yoga pants, screaming “oh em gee” and listening to Britney. The fact that pink is your favourite colour does not make you daft, it does not make you ditzy and it sure as hell doesn’t make you a second rate feminist.
Am I too blonde and girly to fit your narrow idea of what a feminist should look like?
By dismissing “girly” girls, you are alienating many of them from a fantastic liberation movement and robbing its ranks of potential allies. You are tarnishing feminism’s good name and transforming it into an exclusive club, which goes against its core principles. Feminism is a movement advocating social, political and economic equality of the sexes – not a bra-burning sorority into which you have to be initiated. You can be a feminist whether you’re sixteen or sixty, whether you’re a man or a woman and, yes, whether you like pink or not. No one can cancel your membership of the feminist club just because you listen to pop music and wear false lashes. No one can keep you from being a feminist because you’re too “girly”.
I hate that word – “girly”. How can a colour or a hot beverage be girly anyway? You don’t need to be underage and female to like pink and pumpkin spice lattes. I hate the word “girly” because of what it implies – immaturity and frailty. All things “girly” – pink, glitter, Starbucks, Gossip Girl, fake tan, Uggs – are often seen as an invitation for mockery. Once again, femininity (our current conception of it, anyway) is being made out to be a sign of weakness.
Well I say stop! Whether you’re a twenty-something college student like me, a middle aged mother of four or anyone else – female or otherwise – if you like “girly” things embrace it! There is no weakness in being unabashedly, stereotypically feminine. “Girly” doesn’t mean weak – in fact, it means absolutely nothing. It’s just a silly word used to group together a wide array of objects society believes women should like. And guess what – some women do like them, as do many others who society believes shouldn’t. No one should be made to feel inferior for liking “girly” things – not me, not you, not even uncle Charlie.
Yes, according to polls only a third of American women identify as feminists. But I’m sure many more believe in equal rights for both genders – how could they not? Let’s stop pointing fingers and telling each other we are bad feminists, because you know what? The only way you can be a bad feminist is by putting other women down. Our outfit choices and coffee preferences aside, we are all just a bunch of lovable creatures who deserve equal respect. Now excuse me while I reapply my lipstick and watch a YouTube video of a panda sneezing. Trust me, neither is keeping me from fighting for gender equality.
Are you a girly girl, a tomboy or something in between? Do you think girly girls deserve to be patronised? Have you ever been belittled because of the way you dress or the things you like?