Not Like the Other Girls
You remember that Not Like The Other Girls phase? That time you spent, however long it lasted, where you were just convinced that you were that one specimen of femininity who didn’t, quite, fit?
I know that I certainly did. Go talk to teenage me right now; she’ll tell you that she’s not a feminist, doesn’t see the point of it, doesn’t believe in this whole “sisterhood” nonsense, and considers herself, firmly, Not Like The Other Girls.
Which was strange, really, looking back, because I had a lot of awesome female friends in high school, even before that. I was surrounded by women who were unique and brilliant and strange and insecure and I doubt that I would have been able to navigate my way to adulthood without them. Not to mention the female members of my family, who have consistently been outspoken in their uniqueness and unapologetic about the people that they are. I have, all my life, had women around me who proved that the notion of The Other Girls was not some monolithic being. And yet, I still saw myself as Not Like.
And I think the reason for that is because the limits of the femininity we are proscribed are so ridiculously limiting. The cultural messaging we get about what womanhood looks like, and especially the state of pop culture when I was growing up, are so constant, so overwhelming, and so specific. And they are so limiting.
Straight, traditionally hot, thin, usually white, deferrant to men, usually focused on domesticity. Fitting in to those boundaries is something that’s sold to us as being necessary just to see ourselves reflected in pop culture, and yet, committing your life to the pursuit of those things can feel painfully constrictive. But when you’re told that’s what womanhood looks like, over and over and over again, you just assume that everyone else, despite outward appearances, somehow manages to fit themselves into that box, and that you are the only one for whom it doesn’t work.
And I strongly believe that’s where this attitude came from, at least for me. When I thought of myself as not like the other girls, I was actually just recognizing that I didn’t fit into the boundaries that had been laid out in front of me. I’m not straight, not traditionally hot, not thin, and I fail at so many of those other boundaries, too. I was not like the other girls, because nobody is, really. No woman I know fits into all those boxes. No woman I know ever could, either.
It took me until my late teens to really get out of that funk, if I’m being honest – it took me meeting other women as an adult and really opening up to them in ways that I hadn’t before for me to really get my head around the fact that I was, in fact, Like The Other Girls, and that I was actually pretty fucking happy about that. It’s a sad thing, that we limit so much about what we define womanhood as, to the point where the this phenomenon is something that I know so many other women who had to go through this before they could really embrace their version of what being a woman actually meant.
But, at the same time – in some ways, I’m grateful for going through it. Because now that I can see other women for what they are – not examples of the ways I am failing, but a reflection of everything that we as women can be – I know that I’ll never go back. Maybe it’s a little too cheesy for this snark-tacular blog to end on this note, but fuck it, let me for just a second – seeing women for the varied and awesome people that they are has allowed me to accept some of that in myself, too. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.
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