By Asha Ellison on the site "Girls on the Run*
Does she have to wear her hair in curls? Or must it flow, sleek and straight? Is she required to face the world with makeup and keep her nails perfectly polished? Are pink and purple the only colors to choose from when she’s selecting a favorite? And what does it mean if she just happens to prefer jeans to dresses? Does living her life with preferences that challenge feminine stereotypes make her less of a girl? Not at all.
That’s not how any of this works.
Although we live in a country that touts freedom of expression, society says otherwise. Perceptions about femininity and how a girl should be change daily, but we have a long way to go. While we are leaping from the binds of stereotypes and microaggressions that exist, there is still much to be desired.
We can afford to do better. We must learn to stop projecting our own thoughts, feelings and ideas about how a girl should look and behave onto other girls. It is up to us, as women, to set a standard of empowered self-expression — a message that says it’s okay for a girl to present herself as she wants culturally, religiously, however she pleases.
Oftentimes, we approach this topic with a sense of neutrality but, in our impassivity, we send messages daily into the world regarding body image, beauty standards, biology and behavior. As a society, we associate things such as athleticism and general liberty with masculinity, giving girls monikers of “tomboy,” “wild” and “abnormal” in the process. But, what is normal?
With so many ethnic, cultural and religious variations in the world, who has the right to say just one type of girl is the standard? The beauty of being a girl is being able to express ourselves and live our lives as we choose. There’s power and freedom in that.
I know, I know. The truth can be a hard pill to swallow but here it is: a girl is a girl, no matter how she chooses to express herself. Whether she accessorizes up or relaxes all the way down, living her truth is what makes her her.
It’s up to every girl to determine her own girl style.
Whether she opts for something pink, blue or some other color, she is still a girl. Whether she applies blush to her cheeks or prefers a bare face, she is still a girl. And, even when she chooses basketball over Barbies, she is still a girl. There are no limitations to the capacity in which a girl can be a girl.
She can wear her hair long or short. She might decide, as she gets older, she prefers being called Danny instead of Danielle. And, she just might decide she wants to run a 5K in a tutu — or a bandana — and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
*Girls on the Run® is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.
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