There is no reason to shame a girl for liking flowers and polka-dots. Since when does being a strong woman involve dressing like a man? I believe that a big part of feminism is ending the traditional belittling of “girly things.” There is no reason to shame a girl for liking flowers and polka-dots. Even something as simple as wearing a dress seems to be a reason to dismiss a girl’s abilities.
Feminism means that women are treated as equals to men, and it seems that this should also mean that traditionally feminine things aren’t seen as inferior to things that are traditionally considered masculine, and not require women to abandon anything “girly” they enjoy or risk inequality.
Back when we all ran around the playground, the girls who wore dresses and pigtails, the ones who squealed as much when they got tagged “it” as they did when they got the new Barbie doll for their birthday, were “girly girls.” They were probably talking in the back of the class with their friends and only picked up fairytale books at the library. I was one of them. I have a neighbor who created a spin-off nickname for me, “twirly girl”, because I figure skated and she played hockey. And all figure skaters do is twirl, so my sport was inferior.
Nowadays, girls like myself (who is sipping a delicious pumpkin spice latte as I write this) are “basic bitches.” Basic bitches are predictable, mindless clones of each other- the only differences being the colors of infinity scarves layered over their fleece jackets. They’re the girls you think twice about your words around because it is very possible that they will burst out into a song from “Frozen” if they are triggered by the right phrase. As a twirling figure skater is dismissed because her sport is considered feminine, basic bitches are looked down upon because they too are feminine and considered predictable.
Men, and even other women, like my hockey goalie neighbor, criticize women for liking feminine things. I am a fan of the color pink, I love cats, I like the Disney princesses, I have bright yellow rain boots that have been used for puddle-jumping, I have bought the past three Taylor Swift albums on the day they came out and listened to them on repeat for the following week. And being called “basic” stings and gets me on the defensive. “Basic” is tossed (underhand, because we ladies probably wouldn’t catch an overhand throw for fear of chipping a nail) at unsuspecting girls based on their clothing and general appearance. It comes with the implication that the target is also rather dumb and self-centered.
When I got to college I became ashamed of all my “basic” ways. I had pictures of my cat on my desk, pink sheets and a slightly obnoxious, yet super useful, pink coat stand, and I listened to T-Swizzle some mornings. Very different from the people I hung out with. It probably didn’t help that my roommates had very neutral colored things and more alternative music, so my side looked like something Barbie might live in by comparison. Within the first month of freshman year I found myself stashing away as many pink things as I could so people wouldn’t notice it. I felt guilty listening to my music even on headphones and just accepted that wearing a colorful shorter skirt would get comments that implied I was immature/not dressed to be a successful student.
I spent the year avoiding anything too “girly.” Then when I moved home for the summer, my mom was helping me sort everything out and I pointed out to my mom how “ridiculous” it was for me to have so much stuff that was “girly.” My mom just laughed. She said it was no surprise because I’d always been like that. And I realized I probably won’t change from my “basic” ways in the future either, so I decided to stop feeling embarrassed about it. It would be “basic” to change because of other people’s comments..
There’s going to be someone shooting a mocking term at you, however you behave, and if you’re confident in yourself, these comments don’t bring you down.
Liking the color pink and watching Frozen more than three times in a month shouldn’t make someone seem any weaker or less intelligent, respectable or mature than someone who doesn’t like such things. Someone’s interests don’t really mean anything about their abilities in anything or potential. It’s a stigma that needs to end.
Anna is a sophomore at Hartwick College, majoring in anthropology and history.