Before reading this, I encourage you read Rowan Blanchard’s amazing piece on being yourself and never apologizing for being who you are. It truly inspired me to write this.
This is a wake up call to anyone who reads this. I hope everyone reads this or even glances upon a few words, because a second or two of someone’s time can make a life changing impact.
After reading Rowan’s piece, I felt inspired. So inspired by a girl younger than me who spoke words and expressed thoughts I was never able to do. I believe this struggle stemmed from the fact that I was too afraid to have my voice heard. I was only a girl. What impact would a girl’s voice have on a society dominated by the status quo and the superiority of man? Why would my voice be heard out of millions?
Today I look back at how I was, but never let my mind focus for too long on the past. Instead, I focus on who I am now. I am a girl. I never realized how low the word “girl” was viewed until this year. It was a symbol of dis-empowerment. As if being a girl was the worst possible thing you could be.
But that’s not what being a girl is. Being a girl is being proud of who you are, your sex, your flaws, your personality, and your life. But it is also about fighting against what has been violated or unlawfully taken from you. Girls are constantly shut down for being too verbal, whereas a man can speak up as he wishes.
This is present from the earliest stages of our lives, without us even being cognizant of it occurring. As Rowan beautifully stated, girls find themselves constantly apologizing to men. Having a similar experience as the young activist, I never realized how every time I was told to hide my bra strap, pull down my skirt, fix my hair, not apply too much makeup, or pull up my shirt, I was doing it for man. For man who claims it’s too distracting, or that I am trying to provoke and become, wait for it, a slut.
Today I find myself disgusted by a society where every time I walk down the street alone, a car slows down, a man sticks his head out the window, and has the ability to call me names or make noises. And I have to stand there defeated? With no ability to speak out against his verbal abuse? His utterly horrible words? I have to continue walking and pretend nothing happened? As if this man didn’t use his power to further prove to me how subordinate I am in such a society?
I do not favor a society where I cannot leave my house and walk with no fear. I do not favor a society where I must double check my attire to make sure I won’t be catcalled or touched by a complete stranger. I do not favor a society where my body is associated with who I am.
I had this feeling when I was younger that there was something that just wasn’t right. Why was I shaving for others? Why must I dress a certain way or look a certain way. In fact, who set up these beauty standards that everyone seemed to follow, and that I needed to follow because I was falling behind?
If I decide to put on makeup, it’s not for you. If I cut my hair, wear a new shirt, put on some flats, and style myself differently, it’s most definitely not for you. Everything I do is for me. I am not trying to make myself feel better or distract myself from my “flaws”. I like to think of myself as a painter. One day I may decide to paint myself a certain shade, and another day my opinion may differ. I take into consideration outside opinions, but I do not think of hateful comments or distasteful words.
As a girl who has suffered with anxiety and the constant fear of embarrassment or making others feel bad, I haven’t taken much care of myself. I found myself worrying about how others felt, and in turn, suffering the worst of days for the ways others made me feel. I always thought about how sensitive others could be if I said a certain thing. I always thought about how I should apologize when I was considered to have stepped out of the bounds.
I don’t want to live in this world if this is how it is. I will work to change it, and I hope others will join me, along with the millions of girls taking charge as well.
I am proud to be me, and am proud to be a Girl.
I’d like to thank young activists, such as Rowan herself, who have spoken out against injustice regarding many aspects of society, whether it be women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights, and so much more. Making a change and realizing right from wrong at a young age is the best gift a person could possibly give.