Growing up, I was always called a tomboy. I much preferred baggy shirts and comfy jeans to a dress or anything frilly. I prided myself heavily on not being like other girls, avoiding traditionally girly things and hating the colour pink.
As I got older, I began to realize that I was rejecting femininity because of the baggage associated with it, not because I didn’t want to be feminine. For a long time, the word “girly” had negative connotations, and I came to believe that anything feminine was inherently inferior. It took me a long time and a lot of relearning to get out of that mindset.
When I finally did realize it was okay to like the things I did, a whole other side of the world opened up to me. I started getting more interested in fashion, makeup and pop culture — and this bout of personal growth also had me seeking out opportunities to learn more about the world and people around me. I opened myself up to friendships with girls I had judged too fast and too harshly in the past and developed a more well-rounded view.
However, since I came out on the other side of this journey, I have noticed that some people’s attitudes towards me have changed.
In the past, I’ve had people question my intelligence here and there, but I’ve found that a growing number of people that I meet think that — because of the way some of my friends and I dress or talk or carry ourselves — we’re not capable of complex thought. They seem to think that there isn’t enough room in our heads to know about lip gloss and politics.
The microaggressions are real, y’all.
From boys making snide comments about us being airheaded because of how we talk to other girls thinking we are shallow and pandering to the male gaze, it hasn’t taken long for me to get sick of it.
These judgemental opinions may seem small and petty, but they act as building blocks to bigger issues. Women in fields that are traditionally maledominated often report that they are spoken down to, experience microaggressions and are even kept from advancing because of their femininity — I’m talking to you, engineering and computer science.
It all stems from those little phrases we heard as kids, the days of people saying “you run like a girl” or “I need some strong boys to move this heavy thing.” All the disdain for femininity starts with seemingly harmless phrases that are said to us as children that become ingrained in us in adulthood.
Thinking back on it, as a child, I ran like a girl and it was fierce — the track medals hanging around in a box in my basement can attest to that. Did I throw like a girl? Well, I couldn’t throw anything at a target to save my life. However, I admit this performance was because I was half blind not because I was a girl.
I did subscribe to those ideals as a child, and sometimes, I still find myself judging a girl because of how she talks or because of the “girly” things she finds interesting.
I am at a point in my personal growth where I can remind myself that girls can have enough room in their heads to quote the entirety of Legally Blonde and talk for hours about makeup while still being politically or culturally aware and intelligent in other ways.
Girls, we do not have to make ourselves less feminine just to gain and maintain basic respect. We have come too far to settle for anything less. We can and will do anything we put our minds to — and we’ll do it wearing our favourite faux-fur-lined boots and Fenty lip gloss. Like the great Elle Woods once said, “What, like it’s hard?”
Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor