It wasn’t until I got to Bible college that I realised there was a type of girl I never knew about.
I was presented with a bunch of problems. If I wasn’t a a girly-girl (I only had two swishy skirts, and mostly wore jeans, tees, and a studded belt that year), and I wasn’t a tomboy (I didn’t like sport), and I didn’t always like being one-of-the-guys (because, even when you have best friends who are guys, they kind of get annoying)… well, what the hell was I supposed to be?
At the time, I would have said I was a child of God, made in the image of God, etc. But it was Bible college after all, so everything was spiritually explained away.
To me, not being a girly-girl, or into sport, or into gaming and talking about hot girls meant one thing — I was a girl who was somewhere in the middle. When guys talked about the kinds of girls they liked, I didn’t fit in. Some of the things they liked:
- girly girls
- skinny girls
- girls with boobs, girls with bums, girls with both or girls who were just plain hot
- girls they could take home after a night out on the turps
- girls who were waiting for marriage
- girls who weren’t waiting
- girls who hadn’t dated their friends previously
- girls with the same talents or interests as them
- girls who seemed to have experienced more, gave good advice, they could talk to
- girls who probably did not go to Maccas and buy a cheeseburger, just so they could get a free diet Coke on the way to work because they were thirsty, and didn’t really like burgers
- girls who drank beer
- girls who looked after themselves, but not too much, because then they were too stuck up
As time went on, it got worse. Avril started singing about nerdy girls who made bad girlfriends, Taylor sang about how she was better than the cheerleader because she wore tee shirts. Even the Pussycat Dolls sang about a much improved girlfriend that the guy of their dreams really wanted.
What it came down to was this — that most of the time, it seemed that girls were basing their girl power abilities and labels on what guys did or didn’t want. If you weren’t like ‘the other girls’, you were hot, attractive, a good communicator and probably a Grammy award winning artist.
Last year, I heard the term ‘basic’ being bantered around. Then, after some serious research, I realised I was probably one of those basic bitches ‘the other girls’ were giving a hard time to. But, as I looked at the lists of attributes of being basic, I realised all of my friends were too. You think if we had pumpkin spiced lattes, we’d be drinking them too? Damn straight. It was a total relief to realise I was one of them.
When I look at what defines me as a woman, or the type of girl I am, what I think about is this:
- my female friendship groups. How much I can learn and grow from other women around me.
- how sometimes I do very typical ‘girly’ things — mostly consumer based. I always have my eyebrows waxed. I buy super expensive shampoo products. Pink is my favourite colour. yes, I will almost always by a product that’s labelled ‘for women’. I like dresses and skirts.
- many of my hobbies are traditionally female dominated. For example, I’m a Girl Guide. I love sewing, stitching, baking, decorating and scrap booking. Yes, there are plenty of men who do these things, but for me, I have found great company when chatting to other women, or connecting through craft, or going somewhere which I know tends to be catered towards my gender.
- how much I love and adore sleepovers and girls nights out.
- my relationship to others as a nurturer and carer. Partially in response to being a mother, but also, being a teacher, friend, mentor and leader.
- the solidarity I find when I am in a scary or unknown situation and I band together with other women to help make the situation okay. This happened while I was abroad, but it’s also happened on public transport, in crowds and in the playground.
I don’t know what type of girl I am. I know that the labels we give tend to be quite polarising, and hurtful at times. What I do know is that in developing a greater understanding of who I am, I am learning more and more about what it means to be a woman, and what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean sorting girls into categories of what they appear to be, or do. It just means that acknowledgement of who you are is important, and stuff the haters — that includes pop songs about how not being one type of girl makes you superior as you are the other, better type.
Also, true story about Maccas. I used to have a VIP sticker which gave me a free drink with every cheeseburger purchased.