Warning: some f-bombs follow.
The other day my co-worker asked to use some of my hand lotion.
“I know it sounds girly, but I just can’t stand when my hands are cracked,” she said as she rubbed the floral-scented, honey-infused cream onto her dry knuckles.
I don’t know if it bothered me more that this woman (with cracking, white rivers of dry skin on her knuckles), felt she needed a disclaimer to moisturize her obviously-thirsty skin, or that her disclaimer was that she knew it was “girly.”
Why is that word used among women (and men) as an embarrassed disclaimer about anything at all—let alone something that would make us feel better? (Whether it’s putting on makeup, shopping for clothes, or giving extra love and pampering to our bodies.)
Let’s humor society’s love for gender labeling here for a bit and talk about these activities typically considered feminine.
Why are these pastimes so often preceded by a guilty admission, inevitably including the word “girly,” as though “girly” is something to be ashamed of—something silly and trifling, belonging to someone who doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously, or to feel good?
When “girly” is used as a disclaimer (inferring something shameful), it automatically does injustice to every girl and woman. Using the female gender like a guilty admittance of weakness is the same as using the word “gay” as synonymous with “stupid.” (Yes, I know people who still do this.)
“Girly” should never feel like a confession.
“Girly” should be synonymous not with trivial, but with powerful.
It shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of, but something to be claimed with our loudest voices—our most powerful feminine voices.
All activities, objects and rituals considered “girly” deserve to be reclaimed—by men and women alike—and staked with pride.
Yes, I fucking love wearing makeup and painting my nails.
Yes, I fucking love pink.
Yes, I fucking use organic honey guava cream on my hands. And I listen to Lana Del Rey in a silk robe, while drinking wine and crying at romantic movies with my girly girlfriends who tell me all their feelings (without apologizing for being too “girly” for having emotions, desires, and needs).
Being “girly” is fucking fun.
And I feel sorry for anyone who chooses to miss out on “girly” because they think it’s a weakness.
Because women are powerful.
Ever think about how strong a vagina is? Just think for a second about what that fragile-looking flower is capable of making. And taking.
That is serious.
Own “girly.” Fucking revel in it.
When we use our gender as a borderline derogatory adjective, every person who has ever identified as “girly” is discredited.
So someday, I hope “girly” will be a word we strive to be associated with, just as we strive to be associated with the most inspiring and powerful feminine figures in our lives.
Someday, I hope to never hear the words, “I know it’s girly,” unless they’re followed by, “and it’s fucking awesome.”
Author: Felicia Bonanno
Assistant Editor: Hilda Carroll/Editor: Catherine Monkman