Thursday, October 02, 2014

On being "girly"

While I was growing up, I had few close female friends. Most of my buddies were boys. Not that I was a tomboy; I liked to play with dolls, wear dresses, and so forth. But boys just seemed easier, friendlier, more straightforward, more trustworthy as friends. And other girls usually seemed so, well, catty to each other and to me -- and as I got into junior high they wanted to do things I thought of as tedious or stupid, like shopping for clothes, gossiping about boys, going to the bathroom in packs or discussing who would get her period first. (I was frankly befuddled over all this useless mystique surrounding a biological function; to me it seemed akin to obsessing over the need to urinate.) By high school I had puzzled out the vaguely proto-feminist idea that being "girly" meant being vapid and useless, and it held little charm for me.

I'm still not particularly girly by nature. (Big revelation, coming from a chick whose alternate nickname is "The Pirate King," ne?) Shopping for clothing is still a chore, and I can't see the point of owning more than four pairs of shoes. Most TV is banal; I'd rather spend time online or reading a book. Captain Midnight and I can pack a week's worth of clothes into a single shared suitcase. I've determined that aerobics are really a huge, ongoing sociological experiment based on the thesis that people will do practically anything if they think it will help them lose weight. I don't have a Pinterest account, I don't have a thousand pairs of earrings, I don't obsess over what to wear, and I don't have any concerns about my bust size. And I prefer to go to the bathroom all by myself, thank you.

Despite my lack of interest in being girly, there was a time when these traits used to worry me. I was afraid that my dearth of girly qualities would drive people away, even after I met CM and got married. But then I started to meet and make friends with women who were undeniably feminine, but who didn't fit into neat little pigeonholes of girliness. Yes, they did some traditionally feminine things, but they were just as comfortable geeking out in front of a computer, or getting into anime other than Sailor Moon, or discussing the kind of literature that will never make bestseller lists, or passing around good science fiction and fantasy. Watching my friends, I began -- finally -- to relax into the set of interests and behaviors that make me feel happy, excited, contented, creative -- in other words, fully myself. I've found that, happily, I don't have to be some kind of √úberchick or squeeze myself into an ill-fitting stereotype to be considered "girly enough."

I guess it just took me a little while to figure out that I'm not a girl. I'm a woman.


MarieC said...

Love this!!

Soozcat said...

Well, thank you!

I hope I've learned a coupla things since high school -- namely, that shared interests and basic simpatico are the most essential building blocks of friendship, NOT whether a person is male or female.