Girls don’t like boys who “don’t like girls who…”

My office is very casual, so I can get away with wearing pretty much anything. A few days ago I showed up to work wearing a nice high topknot, a full face of makeup including lipstick, and a decent looking outfit. The following day I showed up in a ball cap and a plaid shirt, with a bare face. Still presentable, just less shiny. My co-worker sees me in said ball cap and tells me she thinks that I “dress like a boy and a girl”. She has a tone in her voice that infers she is not impressed. Right, yes. Thanks for that. It reminds me of when my grandmother gives me her rendition of the “boys don’t like girls who…” speech when I’m exhibiting a habit she deems unladylike (ie: wearing a ball cap, swearing, not crossing my legs, etc.)

Lately, it seems as though the topic of women’s “trends” that men hate is all over the Internet. Well, they can choke on their opinions, thank you very much. This also goes for anyone who thinks that women should embody a certain persona in order to be considered an attractive sexual partner. Pro tip: no one wants to date/hang out/have sex with someone who feels their opinion is more important that someone else’s based on what’s between their legs.

The list of complaints is extensive. Boys don’t like girls who… wear baggy clothes, wear revealing clothes, wear too much makeup, don’t wear makeup, are smarter than them, swear, don’t shave, have short hair, etc. I could go on for a while. I have never once heard someone say “Girls don’t like boys who…” and that means something. It means that women and girls have been continuously forced to act, dress, speak, and carry themselves in a certain way for the sole purpose of appeasing any and all potential sexual partners. Our society has been putting pressure on us to fit into a mould of the ideal female, one that suits a very small amount of us. I refuse to change myself to fit someone else’s idea of who I should be.

I have a quick list of what trends men should avoid if they want to be considered a viable sexual option (or a decent human): obsession with ‘natural’ beauty, jokes about periods, lack of acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community overall but maintaining an obsession with lesbian sex, catcalling and other predatory behaviour, unsolicited dick pics (does anyone think these actually work?), and pushing your opinions about women’s aesthetics onto people who simply didn’t ask.

Ladies, however many times you’ve heard that speech, I hope you all continue to act like you. You can’t please anyone but yourself, so do what feels best for you. Don’t change yourselves or settle because for every person who thinks “boys don’t like girls who…”, there are like five people who love you the way you are. You don’t exist to be someone else’s desire.

-D

Next Question

We need to talk about The Wendy Williams Show. More specifically, Priyanka Chopra’s interview with Wendy Williams which aired this past week. Regardless of the sex of the interviewer, questions directed at female guests are often sexist and centre around stereotypically feminine topics such as fashion, hairstyles, and dating, and tends to stay away from content regarding their actual achievements.

The Wendy Williams Show is your average talk show: celebrity interviews, beauty advice, gossip, etc. Recently, she had Priyanka Chopra on her program as she was promoting her new movie Baywatch. But instead of asking Priyanka about the movie or her other achievements (she got her start as a Bollywood actress, has starred in 50+ Bollywood films, and continues to act in India after having made it in Hollywood), Wendy grills her on fashion, dating, and the love life of her friend, Meghan Markle. The movie was not mentioned until the last two minutes of the interview.

I know that this is a typical avenue for talk shows to take but what makes it more concerning is that Wendy was being entirely anti-feminist.* She spent the majority of the interview talking about Priyanka’s attendance at this year’s Met Gala. The conversation was originally centred around the dress and hairstyle Priyanka chose for that night (which is kind of blah in itself), but quickly turned into badgering due to her single status at the event, with Wendy blatantly asking “Where’s your date?” as if it were a necessary accessory. She tries to minimize the aggressiveness of her statement by adding “just asking” at the end. Priyanka gracefully stated that she doesn’t need a boyfriend, or even a date, to enjoy those events, and further that she isn’t really looking to date at all. In order to move the conversation along, Wendy suddenly agrees with the narrative that a date is not a requirement for red carpet attendance, completely negating the inferences of the previous question.

When asked about Meghan Markle, Priyanka was quick to point out that Meghan is her own person with separate and worthy achievements, aside from who she’s dating. When asked about Meghan’s love life, Priyanka didn’t have much to say and she shouldn’t. It’s not for her to tell, and she respects Meghan enough not to say too much. Wendy, on the other hand, continued to push questions about Meghan. It is one thing to ask women questions that would never be asked of a man (like what designer they’re wearing, etc.), but it’s another not to accept the answers as given, to push farther until you get the desired answer.

Additionally, when asked her opinion of Meghan’s relationship, and whether she thinks the pair might get married, Priyanka didn’t have much to say. I’m aware that it seems to be how society works, but asking women’s opinions on the lives of other women is gross. It’s a recipe for disaster with a singular goal: to create tension. We love to pit women against each other, but why? To promote a feeling in women that we are never good enough; we need to be like that girl, have shinier hair than her, a cuter partner, or be thinner. It is high time that we stop comparing ourselves to each other. We’re all cute, smart, hard-working, etc. and we as women need to build each other up, not comparing achievements, or tearing each other down. Take the first step and tell the women in your life that you’re proud of them.

-D

To see the full interview, click the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZmuf5SH_Qw

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*I am aware that it is unlikely that Wendy comes up with all her own questions, etc., and there are producers who steer the show’s direction.

Thick Girls, Thick Skin: Sports Edition

When I was younger, I was a competitive figure skater. Looking at me now, you might find this surprising. From ages 4-16 I competed in out of town tournaments and often came home with at least one medal each time. I woke up early for practice before school, and was back at the rink after school, practicing at least 5 or 6 days per week. Costumes, routines, tight hairstyles, glitter, hairspray, and bruises were a big chunk of my life for a long time. I loved skating, but I eventually stopped to pursue other things.

I was always on the chubbier side and I developed earlier than lots of girls, and I definitely stood out in a sport that was dominated by very thin and athletic girls. One particular incident in my skating career sticks out as a turning point in my life. I was sitting on the bench at competition with 8 other girls (together, referred to as a “flight”), all of them thin, blonde, and dressed as Barbie while I was not as thin, a brunette, and dressed as a baseball player. It was 1998, and Barbie Girl” by Aqua had just come out and was so popular that each of those 8 other girls in my flight were doing their routines to that song. I did mine to “Centrefield” by John Fogerty. I was 7 years old at this time, and I already knew I was different from those girls; I knew I looked different than them, but I never thought of that in a negative way. One girl in the flight, we’ll call her Casey, wanted to rub my face in the fact that I was different. While waiting for our flight to be called for warm-up, Casey stood up and went down the line of girls still sitting, pointing at each one and saying “Skinny, skinny, skinny”. When she arrived at the end of the bench, where I was sitting, she screwed up her face and took a sharp breath in. She deemed me “not skinny”, and all the girls laughed, like we were playing some twisted game of Duck, Duck, Goose. We were all 7-9 years old. That was the first time I had a negative body image and also the first time I thought you had to be skinny to be involved in sports. I had to compete against Casey for the rest of my career, as we were always in the same bracket, and every time I saw her, it stung a little more.

Through my later years of figure skating, I was still thicker than the other girls, and though I had pushed that incident from my mind, I couldn’t help but hold on to that negative image of myself. When I eventually quit figure skating, the way I saw myself had something to do with it, though I never said that out loud. Despite the notion that only thin girls were athletic, I still played other sports in high school. And I was ridiculed for it (particularly by other schools during tournaments). My teammates were cool and supportive, but each tournament came with fat-themed nicknames and jokes yelled from the stands while I was serving a volleyball or taking a penalty kick, and I knew they were directed at me. I remained publicly stone-faced, but internalized all their comments. Skip to university, where I still played intramural sports, but my self-esteem had severely deteriorated.

Skip even further, to the present, where I play intramural sports for my law faculty year-long. For the very first time, I hesitated to sign up, being afraid that my self-esteem and my body image couldn’t take any more. Up until this point, I had been bullied in grade school and high school, had some nasty stuff said to me by boys in the street or at the bar, and had heard girls criticizing me when they thought I wasn’t listening. Most of this behaviour was regarding my weight. Cut back to me standing in front of the sign-up sheets for sports: for the first time ever, I walked away. I didn’t want to spend one more year being the team’s token fat girl. A chubby thorn among the thin and dainty roses. Two weeks later, when the final day to sign up came, I was persuaded by two girls in the year above me to join a few teams so we would have enough players. I told myself that I was in higher education and that people weren’t mean in that way anymore, that we had all grown up and seen the light about body-shaming. I was wrong. My most recent jab came just a few months ago, during a girls soccer game while I was taking a corner kick. Behind me in the bleachers were the boyfriends and friends of the girls on the opposing team, and as I backed up to get a running start I heard one guy say, “I can’t believe they let the fat girl take the kick.” He didn’t hush is voice, he wanted me to hear.

During the past year or so, I have gotten a lot better about the way I see myself. And it took a lot of self-inspection to see that the comments from these other people weren’t my problem anymore. I currently play softball, volleyball, and soccer intramurals, allowing me to play sports at least twice per week. The people I play with (both girls and co-ed teams) are amazing, and we are all friends. In addition, the presence of thicker girls in the realms of sports and fitness is growing, and that really helps. In 2015, Women’s Running magazine featured a plus-sized girl on their cover (see below). Model Ashley Graham has been extremely vocal about the time she spends in the gym or playing sports, her message being that you can be a part of a team, or be as fit as the next person, and still be thick. More and more, athletic clothing lines are offering plus-sized options, including Old Navy, Forever 21+, and, most recently, Nike. This is really amazing progress, but the stigma still stands that bigger girls can’t be athletic or fit. In many men’s sports, being the biggest person on the team is seen as being an advantage, but everyone scorns the thick girl even when she possesses drive, motivation, and/or an amazing skill set.

The point of this novel-length post is this: Size does not automatically equate to health or fitness. Sports are a big part of my life, and I won’t let anyone tell me I can’t play because of my size, and neither should you. Trolls will offer their unsolicited opinions and tell you that promoting an “unhealthy body image” (ie: being bigger) is wrong, but what is truly heinous is making assumptions about someone’s abilities, personality or life experiences based on their appearance.What’s that saying about a book’s cover? I hope all you folks see yourselves in your best light. Whatever size you are, you can do whatever the hell you want.

– D

PS If anyone was wondering, I beat out all those Barbies for the gold.

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