I was your typical sexist’s definition of a girl: weak and a cry baby. I was told that I dressed “like a girl”, ran “like a girl”, played “like a girl”, and spoke “like a girl”. It came to a point where I thought hearing the words ‘like a girl’ was an insult, a label that I couldn’t run from but wished that I could. Up until high school, I was criticized for dressing a certain way, acting a certain way, or speaking a certain way, ways that didn’t fit in with what the limitations of how ladies ought to be. I have to admit that it was very constricting and confusing. It was as if ever since I was little, the society that was there to build be up failed me.
It was also an acceptable excuse for people. “Oh, she’s emotional because she’s a girl”, “She’s dressed that way because she’s trying to impress someone”, “Don’t mind her, she’s just hormonal”, “That’s just how girls are”. It has always boiled down to the point where being a girl was something definable and limited.
Luckily for me, I got to escape the toxicity of it all. Despite having been stamped “GIRL” like part of a herd of cattle, I chose to leave my safety bubble. Sheltered that I was, I chose to study in a university miles away from home. That decision changed it all for me. Albeit there being doubts on my part with countless tears at night, I realized that I wasn’t that weak girl everyone made me out to be. I was weak because I listened to them. I grew stronger the moment that I didn’t.
Twenty-three years of hearing the same words over and over again, sometimes directed at me, most of the time I hear it around me, I’ve understood and come to terms with one of the key ingredients in life: You shouldn’t let others define you, let words constrict you, and most of all, lose yourself in all that mess.
I’ve transitioned immensely from being that little girl who thought that being like a girl meant something derogatory to the woman that I am right now who has experience so much from the world. I’ve had the opportunity to explore the places far beyond where the waters meet our lands to realize how strong we were built, how creative we were made to think, and how beautiful being a woman truly is.
So, let me tell you what it really is to be “like a girl” (a woman):
“You dress like a girl” means I wear with me my dignity and confidence. I express myself in the humblest yet intrinsic way. You will look at me in and awe and see not what brand I’m wearing, what color, nor the cut, but you will see the allure of regality.
“You speak like a girl” means I speak with eloquence and brilliance, with validity in my speech. I impart with the subtle parting of my lips meaningfulness, not hate. With every letter that rolls out of my tongue, I enunciate my thoughts that they may educate others, not tear them down.
“You move like a girl” means I let grace drip from my fingertips. With every step, I show my strength with how I carry my body, my soul. With my poise, I bewitch you, and with my elegance, I enchant you.
“You cry too much because you’re a girl” means with every tear, whether out of joy or melancholy, I care. I have every right to feel what I feel, to let out every drop to heal myself and those around me. I express my innermost thoughts and desires and rage in the meekest way by being quietly enveloped in my thoughts as I wash my face of yesterday’s despair. I cry because I am human too.
“You think too much like a girl” means I am critical and creative. I analyze at the same time I let my ideas flow. I am a master of thinking of one thing to hundreds of things all at once without breaking a sweat. I am the maker of my path, the architect of my future.
“You are a girl”, a woman, means there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. So, please, continue to do it “like a girl”.