Friday, July 11, 2014

Am I a Girly Girl?

Today, for the first time in my life, I was called a "girly girl".

I've been called a lot of things in my 35+ years: studious, nerd, weird, dependable, bitch, funny, but "girly girl" is a new one.

Apparently "girly" can also mean "skank"
Aren't I a little old to be called a "girly girl"?  I don't know if there is an official cutoff date, but it seems like an odd thing to call a fully grown woman with mortgage payments.

What is 'girly' anyway? And is it a good thing?  According to Wikipedia: "Girly girl is a slang term for a girl or woman who chooses to dress and behave in an especially feminine style."

I grew up when "girly" wasn't fashionable. It wasn't forbidden, (there is photographic evidence of ruffled outfits in the family album) but it wasn't encouraged on the level it is today. My mother would never have dressed me in a "princess" t-shirt, even if they had been available. Being 'girly' just wasn't cool. 

The image of the 'girly girl' is not just feminine, it is a heavily juvenile version of femininity. It is a version of femininity that is all ribbons and bows, beruffled, bedazzled, and of course, pink. It implies a lightness, a frivolousness of temperament, that can be taken for stupidity. (The movie "Legally Blonde" is a 90 minute joke about this image.) I work in design engineering in an environment that is 90% male. This is not an image I want to project.

I'm not trying to hide my femininity or pretend that I'm a man. I love pink. I keep perfume in my desk. But I'm not 6 years old. I think it should be possible to dress like a woman and still look like an adult.  

Actually, the dress below is something I would love to have. The Marquise de Pompadour, (definitely a woman who knew how to use her charms to her advantage) managed to put together an outfit that is literally covered with flowers, bows, lace and ruffles, but which doesn't make her look like a child in the slightest. Admittedly, fashion has moved on, and I don't live the kind of life this garment is suited to, (Nor does anybody - can you imagine trying to board a plane in it?) but isn't it a marvel of a dress?

The most feminine dress I've ever seen.
For more practical examples, look at Diane Von Furstenberg and Zooey Deschanel. Both have very feminine styles, and they both look like grown ups. (Zooey is modeling her own line, which I wish had longer skirts - mini skirts aren't very office friendly, but I knit pick.)

I know the person who called me "girly" was not insulting me. She meant well, (and thank goodness my boss didn't hear her) but I want to be a woman, not a girl.

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