Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Journey to Accept Girly Girls

Act #89:  Embrace all forms of femininity.

When I first moved to town, I found out about a weekend community-based outdoor farmer's market/food co-op.  I was ecstatic to have the chance to support local farmers, be more connected to my food sources, and have fresh and wholesome food options for myself.  So after being in town for several months, I finally found a small window of time to head out to the market on my way to a work- related fundraising event. I used to wear pearls and high heels a lot in my former life and I remember my heels sinking in the gravel parking lot when I stepped out of my brand new shiny silver SUV.  As a woman of color living in a predominantly white town, I'm always prepared for questionable looks, inquisitive stares, but this time it felt different.  For the first time in a long time, I simply felt that I was not welcome.  And I can't explain it, but I knew that it had nothing to do with the color of my skin.  I looked around and quickly realized how very different I looked from the vendors and patrons around me.  They wore loose fitting clothes made from colorless natural fibers.  Flat, comfortable walking shoes.  They wore no make up and if they had jewelry on, it was made of silver or turquoise.  There were drummers and small groups of people holding coffee mugs just staring at me.  And yes, there was that strong aroma of patchouli surrounding the entire market.  By golly, I think I was being judged for my french manicure and my Ann Taylor pleated slacks.  And my gas-guzzling vehicle.  The subsequent interactions with the vendors were less than friendly - few words exchanged, no smiles, an unspoken eagerness for me to just get out of dodge so life could return to normal for everyone else.  So I left, and never returned.  

Fast forward 10 years later and for the first time in a long time, I have discovered how to be comfortable in my own skin.  The pearls, the heels are long gone and I'm driving a hybrid now.  My nails have been chewed on and I haven't seen a manicure in months.  I'm a raging feminist - I always have been, but these days I wear the rage proudly, publicly, and with every fiber of my being.  And while my hope is to invite others to join "the movement" - to help create a world free from injustice, oppression, and violence against women - I've come to the harsh self-realization that I have turned into the biggest barrier to true feminist social change. 

I have become the unwelcoming hippie farmer's market.

I've become so comfortable surrounding myself with like-minded progressive feminists and activists, people who dedicate their lives to social justice, people who freely voice their convictions, that I somehow, unknowingly began to quietly judge every other woman who didn't belong to "the choir" including:

Trailing wives who follow their husband's careers
Women who spend more than $5000 on their weddings
Women with grown children who don't work outside the home
Sorority girls
Women who talk excessively about their kids
Women who get plastic surgery
Women who read romance novels
Lingerie models
Women who wear blood diamonds, the color pink, or Lululemon yoga pants
Women who buy their weekly groceries at the Fresh Market
Women who change their last names
Women with personal trainers
Women who marry rich men
Women who have no clue what is going on in Washington, DC
Women who put their daughters in dance classes, pageants, and take them to Disney-themed shows
"Girly" girls
Women who wear pearls and Ann Taylor slacks, and who drive gas-guzzling SUV's

Women just like me.

I'm so sorry.  I'm an idiot.  I am/was/probably will be again someday - various versions of all of you.  We are all various versions of each other.  True feminism embraces the beauty in all of us -  differences, flaws, every ounce of womanhood, patriarchal influence, and each and every indomitable spirit that defines us as individuals.  Whether we wear pearls or patchouli, we are all women.   And until we start working together rather than against each other, I doubt we'll ever live in a world free of violence and oppression.  This is not my movement.  This is our movement.  Everyone is welcome.  Forgive me?



  1. I cannot tell you how much I love this post, it's so true and has really made me think. Thank you for posting!

  2. *like*
    I can relate to both. Great post, thanks Mae!
    I am loving your blog! Lots of catching up to do.