Have you ever heard that line? In a book, in a movie, in real life?
“I’m not like other girls.”
I see it in posts like this one:
As if they are somehow superior to those “other girls” simply because they’re not interested in what our world deems “typical” feminine ideals.
(Oops. It started with one, and then when I saw how quickly these posts were coming up… I think you get the idea. This is a popular meme.)
Ladies, this has to stop.
This video popped up on my youtube recommendations. I have never heard of this youtuber and I have not at this point watched any of her other videos. But this video hits on the head an issue that I have been struggling with a lot lately and she does it in a respectful, rational way. Watch it. It’s worth it.
As Savannah Brown so clearly says, this notion of the “other girls” is poisonous and it’s something that has been handed down through the generations. As females, we are taught through books, movies, and each other that Pretty = Shallow. Girly = weak. Dating around = slut. Makeup = wanting to hide something, or tragically insecure. And all around us, just to enforce this idea, we see the women who embody femininity treated like dirt. So who’s surprised that if we want respect, we feel we have to separate ourselves from those “other girls?”
Those “other girls” who embrace femininity are the evil leading ladies in a terrifying majority of the stories they inhabit. (Hello Mean Girls, I’m looking at you. Also, Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” Also Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” Do you see a trend here yet?) And in the end of those stories, they’re heroically brought down by the hipster/goth/country/nerdy/geeky/new/different girl who shuts down the mere idea of being feminine and condemns it as the weapon of the enemy.
Let me say this a little louder for the people in the back: FEMININITY IS NOT A BAD THING AND IT DOES NOT EQUAL WEAKNESS OR SHALLOWNESS IN A CHARACTER OR PERSON.
Like she says, “Saying you just don’t get along with other girls is like saying you don’t get along with people with brown hair. It’s doesn’t make any sense.”
One of the book series I am currently reading (correction: waiting desperately for the next one to come out) is the Throne of Glass series. I think Savannah Brown would love this main character- Celeana Sardothian. Because she is strong. She’s an assassin, the most famous in all the land. She’s a fighter. She’s incredible in a battle. She’s also vain. She’s such a flirt. She gets her period while on a mission and is extra grumpy because of it. She loves dancing, especially if it’s with a handsome man. She loves rich clothing and fine dresses and spends hours in front of a mirror because she (or rather the author, Sarah J. Maas) recognizes that femininity is a strength, even sometimes the best weapon in our arsenal, and should never ever be automatically categorized as a weakness.
If you want someone real life who embodies so much of this, Estee Lalonde on youtube. This girl is so unapologetically herself in every way and it’s inspiring. Or Emma Blackery if you’re ok with some language and lots of snark.
Women are diverse and complicated and never one sided. (Yes, even that popular girl you thought was awful in high school.) And enjoying those things that are traditionally feminine (dresses, makeup, hair styles, high heels, wanting to stay at home instead of working, wearing lots of pink and sparkles, flirting, enjoying the girly cocktails…. I could keep going but I think you get the picture) is NEVER an invitation for you to assume ANYTHING about that girl’s personality or life. Doing so only shows more about who you are then who she might be.
My two younger sister and I are blessed to have the mom that we do. And my younger brother for that matter- yes, gentlemen, this stuff affects your lives as well as the lives of your sisters/mothers/aunts/grandmothers/girlfriends/wives. It affects the way you view women all around you.
My mom never tolerated us being scared of bugs just because that’s what was expected of us. We learned to smack them with our shoes after we stopped screaming. My parents took us hiking and we knew that there were more important things than worrying about our chipped nails. At the same time, there was no shame holding us back from going and getting them done after we got home. We love football and we played outside relentlessly as little kids. We also knew/know how to behave in a dress and walk in high heels. I prefer country music and for a long time wore my dusty boots around everywhere. That didn’t stop me and my sisters from jamming out to pop music as we drove around together. My best friend spends her college days in some variation of a barn (you go, Erin!) We also looked like absolute princesses for our high school Proms and like to do photo shoots with our photo-talented friends. Our go-to break up plan was Captain America and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and talk about hot guys.
Do you see how many of these things would never be incorporated into the same character in our books/films today? Why is that? Why in 2016 are we still uncomfortable with females who don’t fit nicely into our ready-made stereotypes?
Ladies: It is ok to spend your entire saturday watching obscure indie movies you enjoy, and go out for a mani/pedi the next day to talk about boys. It is permissible to enjoy football and fancy dresses, even at the same time. Watch Marvel movies and read sappy romance books if that’s what you enjoy. Take lots of selfies. Show of your confidence. Cosplay one day and wear pink lipstick the next. Require respect and require it in pink. Do not be afraid.
Do not let anyone make you afraid of embracing every piece of you, every beautiful contradiction inside you. Because it’s not a contradiction at all when it’s all wrapped up in making you, you.