When you’re growing up, you learn quickly how to be a good little girl.
Through trial and error, mistakes and misfortune, tragedy and heartache, bliss and ecstasy, you learn the traits of a good little girl. You do your very best because somehow you just know that you have to.
You learn to watch the tilt of a forehead, the feeling of a glance. You learn to know where eyes go on your body, even when they are behind you. You know when their eyes are on your face, or your chest, or your ass. You know where they go, but you have no control on where they land, and stay, and stare. And if you’re uncomfortable, don’t you dare say so—because what is the big deal? Nobody even touched you.
You learn when your dress is too short, or your top too low cut. You learn to draw attention, but not the bad kind. There is such a fine line.
You learn to have a voice, but not too loud. Make sure you don’t intimidate anyone. Don’t be obnoxious, but don’t be too quiet. That’s so weird.
Don’t be too much like the guys, you’ll be called a dike. But just enough to be cool. Just enough to be respected—protected. You may need them later.
You can be smart, but not too smart. Don’t be a nerd. Don’t read too much, or use big words, you might make someone feel stupid. Only be concerned with everyone else’s feelings. Don’t worry about your own. You’re fine. What’s the big deal? Don’t act crazy.
Learn to do your makeup and curl your hair, because if you don’t you won’t get treated like a real girl. They’ll call you scrappy, messy, dirty. They probably won’t be your friend.
Know your favorite baby names, one for a boy and one for a girl, because someone always asks. How many kids are you going to have? It is not a matter of if, because no one asks you if you want them. It’s just a matter of when.
Know about flowers. Know which colors go together and which don’t. You can’t wear white after Labor Day. You can’t wear black with blue. Are you really going to wear those shoes out of the house? Brush your hair—it looks like a mop.
Make yourself smaller. In every sense of the word. Make yourself shorter, because you can’t be taller than any man. Make your feet tiny and cute, they look way too big. Shrink your personality. Shrink the sound of your voice. Don’t sound too shrill—what are you, hysterical? You’re talking way too soft now, I can’t even hear you. What is wrong with this girl?
You always have to smile. Even when you want to cry. They’ll tell you to smile more, so you better be prepared. You have to smile when you’re angry, when you’re suicidal, when you want to break a window, or a door, or a face. You look bored. You look pissed. You look intimidating. You look scary. Unapproachable. Cold. Fix your face. You always have to smile, to make them less uncomfortable.
When someone touches you without your permission—which they undoubtedly will—you better memorize what you were wearing, because honestly it’s going to be your fault.
When someone asks you how you got to be this way? Nod politely, show your teeth. They better be white. Tell them that you learned how to be a good little girl.