I don’t think there’s a single girl who didn’t hate being deemed a “girly girl” while they were at school. There was always a negative association; the girls who didn’t have any fun because they were too worried about getting mud on their shoes or liked the colour pink too much. The truth is though, you were deemed a girly girl if you liked anything that could even vaguely be associated with femininity and everyone always liked the “tom boys” better.
They were smarter, more hard working, liked doing all the of fun stuff and were pretty for not liking to wear makeup, or so the stereotype would say. It just goes to show why Feminism is still needed today as somehow we still can’t seem to disassociate anything girly and pretty from vain and shallow.
I would have argued with you until the cows came home if you tried to call me a girly girl in my early to mid teens. I hated it. I made jokes at the expense of people who enjoyed makeup and pink and all things pretty and I wanted boys to see me as smart and easy going and not someone who obsessed over their appearance. I got good grades and had a rep for being the smart shy one, I wasn’t particularly confident in my appearance and so through jealousy and default continued to tell myself that the smartest, kindest and better girls in the movies were always the ones that weren’t into all the pretty stuff.
But things have changed now. Now, I LOVE all things pretty. I love wearing makeup and having my nails done (even if I could use more practice at it), I love pretty feminine clothes and colours. I love my little height, and my dainty hands and feet and I love that people associate me with soft, warm colours and fabrics. I present myself in a very feminine way and I feel most myself this way.
That being said, I am in no way “small” in way of personality and position. I also love books and writing and learning new things. I’m working towards a degree. I also love cartoons and QI and sarcastic British comedy. The point? I’m complex and I’m more than just a girly girl. So is any girl or woman that’s ever been deemed as much.
Now I associate femininity with a specific kind of strength. One that I admire to an equivalent extent as every other kind of strength a woman has. Every time someone calls me a girly girl, which believe it or not I still get on occasion, I fight an internal battle and have to take pause in order to stop myself from jumping to my own defense and denying the title. I force myself to remember that it’s only an insult if I take it as one, and if I do, I’m only giving it a power and connotation that it shouldn’t have.