When I was growing up, I never played sports like a lot of my friends did. While a lot of the other girls joined basketball or softball, I’d prefer to read and learn. I liked Barbies, and I also liked Legos, but I never so much as threw a dodgeball outside of a gym class.
When I got older, I got way more girly, and grew a deep, abiding love for all things flowery, feminine, and delicate. I still didn’t play sports, didn’t watch sports, and hardly did any physical activity that didn’t involve running after an ice cream truck. I’m just not a sporty girl.
I have never stepped foot inside a gym. I don’t own a pair of sneakers other than the ones I wore as a waitress. Having my hair in a ponytail is uncomfortable, and workout clothes are far too ugly for me to bear. I am, in the most accurate sense of the word, a girly-girl.
I like dresses with floral prints on them, I like curling my hair and wearing makeup. I would rather sit and eat at an awesome restaurant four nights a week and eat my weight in pizza than jog around the block. Soul Cycle sounds like hell to me, and I don’t have to apologize for any of that. And I won’t.
All my life, or at least for as long as I can remember, I have been teased for my girliness. In my all-girls school, appearances didn’t matter so much, but while my peers and friends came to school with messy buns and scrubbed faces, I took pleasure in dolling myself up for the day, makeup and hair done. I got a lot of weird looks for that, and girls asking me why I bothered. Who was I trying to impress? I rolled my eyes and thought, “This is just who I am.”
I will never be a sporty girl, and here’s what I want you to know:
You’re not better than me because you jog
Sure, I should probably do some exercise so that I don’t have heart disease at age 53. That I’m aware of. But that’s my business, not yours. I’ve had people laugh at me for not knowing (or caring) what pilates is, or for not wanting to go running at 5 a.m. They say, “You’re such a girly girl” as if it were the highest insult.
Not wearing makeup is not a badge of honor
If you’re a woman and you hate makeup, then you don’t have to wear it. If you’re a woman and you look down on other women who wear makeup, then you’re wrong. I have never felt oppressed because I love makeup; on the contrary, in my case, wearing makeup makes me feel pretty and powerful. On the other hand, I feel fully comfortable going without it.
But even if I didn’t, eschewing makeup still doesn’t make you better than me. Makeup-shaming women is just another way of telling them how they should live their lives, which is inherently wrong. No one has the right to tell me what choices I should make and how to express myself. Just because you’ve decided to go makeup-free doesn’t mean you’re superior to me.
Your condescension speaks more about your personality than mine.
My girly interests and preference for heels doesn’t mean I’m not a bad*ss
No one has said it better than Zooey Deschanel’s character on New Girl. Basically, Zooey’s character Jess has my problem: that another woman is looking down on her because she’s girly and expresses herself with glitter and bows. Jess doesn’t back down, asserting herself and defending her interests:
I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours. I spend my entire day talking to children. I’m sorry that I don’t talk like Murphy Brown. And I hate your pants suit. I wish it had ribbons on it or something just to make it slightly cuter but that doesn’t mean I’m not smart and tough and strong.
Also, I can walk better and for a longer time in heels than most people, and that’s an accomplishment I am appropriately proud of.
You’re not allowed to shame me for liking what I like, and vice versa
I have never made fun of another girl or woman for having different interests than mine. Why is femininity still seen as a weakness, even by other women? Why are floral dresses inferior to jogging clothes?
Answer: they’re not. But unfortunately, there is still a stigma associated with girliness, that it’s weak and inferior to any kind of masculinity, i.e. athleticism.
If your passion is running, sports, and being the best athlete, then that’s wonderful and I am proud of you and will support you in your passion. But I expect the same respect for me, for being the opposite.