This post first appeared on Medium and Thought Catalog.
Lunchtime. My workplace. One of the girls I work with, the hot guy and I are eating at the same table.
We’re chatting about everything and nothing, and I really don’t know how we got there when she says ‘I’m such a guy though. I really am, I think like a dude’. Friendly chat, harmless flirting. I get it, I swear, I know what she’s doing with that -I can see that it’s for him.
But she keeps going: ‘Seriously, you don’t believe me? I fart and I burp, I just don’t think like a girl’. I brace myself, here it comes. ‘All that girly stuff, ohhh check out my makeup, isn’t this dress pretty, like… Yeah I just don’t think like that, I think like a guy’.
Check this out, I’m cool -she forgets to add.
The guy smiles and looks away, and I feel a familiar twist in my stomach because I’ve seen this scene play out so many fucking times, and it makes me sick. I’ve seen it played to perfection by the cool girl at summer camp and the one in my High School class, and all the ones in between who jumped on the boys’ bus because life is clearly just so much better over there. They must have free snacks or something, because otherwise I really don’t get it.
Let’s clear something up straight away: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a tomboy, or a girl who just so happens to think more like a guy, or one who feels more at ease hanging out with boys. Nothing at all.
My problem, my twist in the stomach, is how uncomfortable we are admitting we might also want to think like girls, dress like girls, feel like girls. My problem is with how much cooler we think it sounds when we bump shoulders with the boys and laugh at those poor unfortunate souls who happen to think that dresses and makeup really ain’t half as bad as we all make them out to be.
For whatever reason, we’ve all been taught at a very young age that ‘acting like a girl’ is something embarrassing and disappointing, something to avoid. Something uncool. And you know the saddest part? It’s that we all had to buy into this ridiculous delusion because we were given no other choice.
It’s 2015, and the only possible scenarios we can provide little girls with are a) grow up to be one of the boys and you’ll fit right in. Pro tip: if you feel the mask slipping, just yell something about burps or farts. Guys love farts. Or b) embrace your girly-ness, and people will stomp on your opinions and assume you can’t rub two brain cells together because you read Glamour and think Harry Styles is really, really, really, really beautiful. I digress.
Seriously, is that all we’re giving them? Is that what I’m supposed to give my daughter one day, just present her with the facts and make it as easy as if she was choosing between two lollipops?
I’m tired of feeling like I have to explain myself if I’m caught with Glamour in my hands, like it’s such a big fucking deal. Should I start carrying some Hemingway as a backup, to prove that I’m not nearly as stupid as you think I am? Because I’m not, and I love Hemingway, but the thing is, I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You’re in the wrong for judging me based on the lies society’s been feeding you, not me.
Someone once made fun of me because the book I was reading had a girl in a red dress on the cover and they’d just assumed it was the ‘girly romance’ kind. It was a crime novel, and unless you count the psycho’s unconditional love for his axe, there really was nothing romantic in its 600 pages.
But for one long moment before I launched into a detailed explanation (‘Girly, who, me? No, I’m smart. Let me tell you about this book…’) I felt small and insignificant and as if somebody had slapped me. He’d implied that had my book been the girly romance type, it’d have been laughable.
And I rose to the bait by rushing to make it all better, taking out any hint of girliness my book might have had to make myself more likeable, more appealing, more respectable. Smarter. Cooler.
Just like -you guessed it- the girl from my work who thinks like a dude and wants the hot guy to know. I’ve been there, too, girl, see?
I don’t want to keep playing this game. It’s a shit game and the rules are no fun, so let’s all just quit it, why don’t we? Let’s all just say YES to whatever the hell we like, may it be makeup or farts, Glamour or Hemingway, or maybe even all four.
May we never be made to feel small and insignificant for liking what we like, and may we never pretend to be anything else other than our perfectly fine selves, ’cause seriously, it’s 2015 and about damn time.