Growing up, I was never classified as the “girly” type. I preferred wearing uniform shorts and old T shirts over frilly, cute dresses that my mom would try to put me in. I enjoyed wearing my green converse shoes over the latest barbie shoe style. I played sports with the boys on the playground instead of picking daisies in the field with the girls. Most of my friends were and always have been guys over girls. I did not care about make up or trying to be feminine looking until I got to college and realized with the help of a few volleyball teammates that there was a whole world of beauty that I had never discovered.
Some of these things have also transcended into my adult life. I prefer a nice, cold beer over a fancy and expensive wine. I would rather watch a football game than go and get my nails done. I’m not afraid to wear a boyfriend blazer and all black and be stereotyped as “lesbian” when I am very much into men. I have a deep and raspier voice and singing voice that will never be dainty and Celine Dion no matter how hard I try.
All of these characteristics have helped me come to a deeper revelation of what it really means to be a woman. “Woman” is not defined by preferences but is defined by a role that was chosen for you before you ever existed. When did society start creating gender roles and their preferences? Why can’t my favorite color be blue without it being seen as a boyish trait? Why can’t I enjoy beer without it looking like I am trying to be “one of the guys”? When did this all happen?
I will never forget a moment when I was in the sixth grade that a girl in my class looked at me and said, “You’re ugly and your best friend is pretty. You would be better looking if you were a boy.” Although I was too strong headed to let it bother me in that moment, it is still something that made me question why I was ever born a girl. Why did I prefer these “masculine” things over what I was supposed to enjoy? Why did I want to rip my dolls heads off instead of brush their hair? Why did boys like being my friend over girls being my friend? WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME?
In life, we all have defining moments. A defining moment for me was when I was in my first college english class. My teacher was a wonderful woman who brought light to so many issues that I had never thought about. She had a similar background as me in that she was raised in a very religious home, private school, strict but loving parents, preferred guy friends over girl friends, and was perfectly content walking in to teach her class with no make up and the outfit of her choice that day. During one of her classes, she was teaching on the subject of gender roles. She made the statement, “There is nothing wrong with tending towards masculine qualities as a woman. The key to embracing your womanhood is finding other women who are on the same vein because let me tell you, there are MANY of us out there who need to find MANY more like us to stand together. It’s our job to create roles and stop letting society tell us there is something wrong with preferences because of our gender.” She inspired me to see people for their characteristics and not their preferences. In turn, she inspired me to see myself for my characteristics instead of my personal preferences.
Thankfully, I have been privileged enough to meet many amazing women that I consider my closest friends who have experienced similar childhoods and have broken many stereotypes with me. No matter your preferences as a woman, you are WOMAN. You are unique and wonderful and carry something that no one else does. Whether you enjoy the color pink or your favorite color is black, you are just as beautiful and graceful and WOMAN.