26 & Counting: When Did ‘Girly’ Become A Dirty Word?

26 & Counting: When Did 'Girly' Become A Dirty Word?


by Grazia |

Girls are impressive: we stand up for our rights. We work hard and for less reward than our male counterparts. We can pick out the cheapest, least offensive wine at a distance of 40 feet. We are capable of multiple orgasms, so thank you God; we grow tiny, living human beings in our stomachs.

Except, not everyone is proud of being ‘girly’ - namely, two girls I was ear-wigging at the pub last week. Part of their conversation went like this:

Girl One: ‘So sorry, this is going to sound really girly but…’

Girl Two: rolls eyes heavily ‘Okay, go on…’

Girl One then began talking about duvet covers or something equally inane, which made me sad because a) that conversation wasn’t ‘girly’, just excruciatingly dull, and b) when did it become cool to put all ladies down - and to each other?

Quite recently, according to the internet. The Basic White Girl meme has been doing the rounds more than ever this week, generalising the girl’s girl and making us all feel quite bad about it, actually.

I’m not ashamed of being ‘girly’. I like watching shit reality TV from time to time, I like obsessing over The Winter Coat I need, sometimes I fantasise about having facials and perfect skin and sometimes I do hormonal crying when I’ve lost my purse in my bag for the fifteenth time that week.

But just because I can quote from Mean Girls doesn’t mean I can’t quote political manifestos, and just because I like having a bit of a moisturise and dancing alone to Beyoncé doesn’t mean I’m not a strident feminist.

‘Girly’ is should not synonymous with negativity and being born with a pair of tits should not an insult make. Yet ‘girly’ is now tantamount to ‘cute’ - the type of word you’d use to describe a kitten, not a CEO. It’s used to demoralise whereas its ‘lad’ counterpart empowers. And the more we downplay ‘pinkification’, the more femininity becomes a corrosive stereotype in itself. When’s the last time you heard anyone apologise for being too ‘boyish’?

We need to reclaim girly. Rather than a slur, ‘girly’ should mean strong - it should mean witty and intelligent and fun and whatever you want it to mean. Redefine 'girly' with Cath Kidston, cry over it with no shame. Light a scented candle and bake. Play sports. Have as many one night stands as you like and make that 'girly' if you fancy it. Do what *you *want.

Because, if the Spice Girls were right about anything - and nothing has ever been as right as buffalo boots - we really do need girl power.

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