To all the people who think they define what being ‘girly’ or not ‘girly enough’ is, here’s some food for thought.
The idea of quintessential femininity has been imposed upon us girls since birth. Wearing pink is imperative, not playing a lot of sports is a given, we are asked to not raise our voices, not be assertive, not speak about our periods or our bodies in great detail. The list goes on. This is not to say that men don’t struggle with a pervasive and hackneyed idea of toxic masculinity, but we women have it much worse.
Coming from a progressive middle-class Bengali household, where my mother always earned more than my father, things were not too different either. I realised quite early in my life that I was not as aggressively into this ‘looking good’ thing as I was expected to be. For me fashion was secondary, comfort always came first. I was in no mood to trade my cargo pants for short skirts because it would make me look a certain way.
In middle school, when my classmates started waxing on a daily basis, I wore my body hair with pride. Actually, I wasn’t trying to make a point. I was just too lazy to care. Although I was never branded as a ‘tomboy’, I was often nudged by friends, family, strangers on the road to smile more, to wear makeup, to wear clothes which would accentuate my body and not hide it. That incessant scrutiny hasn’t subsided over years, in fact, more often than not my appearance makes me feel that I am not good enough and I am not okay with that.
So to all those people, here’s what I want to say. You’ll not determine my self-worth, I will. My body is not an open canvas, a barren wall for you to spew with your indiscretion. Stop telling me that if only I grew out my hair, it would cover my double chin and make my face appear slimmer. If I choose to shave it all off one day, I would be doing it for myself and not for you.
Stop telling me that since I am a woman, I should be mysterious and not speak to my heart’s content. You are free to not listen. My armpits make you cringe? Can you not look at them then? (Hi-five to Priyanka Chopra on this one!) Can you not tell me that if I lost a little bit of weight and cut down on the sugar I could attain my ideal body weight? The specifics of your concerns about my weight and body astound me.
And what is ‘girly enough’, anyway? Is there a threshold or a hurdle I have to cross, do I have to take a test to be certified as a woman? This ceaseless intrusion is getting to my nerves and these days my first instinct is to get defensive and not take anything lying down. Of course, I am asked if I am PMSing because hormones are the real problem, not you. Never you.
Let me break it down. There is not one way to be a woman. We are more than how we look and what we wear. And when we wear what we think we should, we are not asking to be approached by lecherous men. We are NEVER asking for it.
We don’t owe you a damn dime, except basic human decency. And would want the same to be reciprocated in kind. Capeesh?
The girl who does not wish to be ‘girly enough’