While the true meaning of feminism has never changed, our culture's perception of feminism and feminists certainly has. And while it's still taking some time for many people to get used to — only 20% of the American people feel comfortable identifying as a feminist, even though 82% claim they believe in gender equality — more and more people (men and women, mind you) are proudly identifying as feminists.
That means that feminists come in all shapes and sizes, with varying preferences. Now, being a feminist doesn't mean you're a lesbian man-hater. Instead, being a feminist can mean you're a stay-at-home mom, a woman who shaves every part of her body, or a single father. A working mom is a feminist, a woman who is happily married is a feminist... Basically, there are essentially no other qualities, habits, or life choices that a person can possess that would absolutely exclude them from being a feminist. You can be just about anything and also a feminist. This includes being "girly."
Now, I need to preface all of this by saying that even the title "girly" sits harshly on the tips of my typing fingers. "Girly" — thanks to a misogynistic patriarchy that has devalued women and actions that our society perceives to be feminine — comes with a stereotype of weakness. If you're describing someone as "girly," you're probably implying that they're soft and fragile and need someone stronger, tougher (and probably a dude, let's be honest) to protect and/or take care of them. "Girly" is a word meant to embody certain characteristics and qualities that were long ago attached to women (for ~super casual~ reasons like...controlling an entire half of the human population, devaluing women, and continuing to place political and social power in the hands of men; mostly white, heterosexual men). But the truth is, there are plenty of men who like things that many would perceive to be "girly," and when they do, they are often criticized for being "girly" because, you guessed it, being "girly" is bad.
But it isn't. It isn't if you're a man, it isn't if you're a woman, and it certainly isn't if you're a feminist. If you're super girly, that simply means that you like things that have randomly been deemed "for girls" in the most patronizing, belittling sense, but it in no way means that you're a lacking feminist who is furthering the goals of misogynists the world over by liking these things. So, with that in mind, here are nine reasons why being super girly doesn't make you a bad feminist. Feminism is all about choices, so girl, go ahead and choose the things you like.
While more people are choosing to identify as a feminist, there are still aging stereotypes that deter most of the American public from proudly flying the flag of feminism. While many are hesitant to call themselves feminists, 82% of the population claim that they believe in gender equality.
Clearly there's a communication issue at hand; a problem with what people perceive feminism to mean, versus what it actually means. Many women (and men) believe that getting married means you're a bad feminist, shaving means you're a bad feminist, etc. But the truth is, a "girly" feminist knows that not only do none of those things have anything to do with feminism, but that changing your behavior so that people can more easily see that you're ~totally~ a feminist, is the opposite of feminism.
Just like a feminist doesn't let gender stereotypes define them, a "girly" feminist isn't going to let the stereotypes our culture has attached to feminism define them. Just because a (shockingly) large population of our society still thinks that being a feminist means being a "man-hater," that doesn't mean you're going to change your likes and dislikes, just to appease the masses. You won't force yourself to like football, wear black all the time, or invest your time in any other activity that our society has deemed "manly" just to try and make it easier for certain individuals to identify as you as feminist. (Especially because that identifier would be extremely inaccurate: Liking football or wearing black does not a feminist make.)
Liking pink, wearing makeup, dressing up and enjoying a good cuddle session with a puppy and a romantic comedy, says nothing of a person's intellect or strength. Those qualities — which many men possess too, by the way — do not lessen a person's overall worth, and certainly don't speak to a person's innate capabilities.
In fact, the only reason those characteristics are considered "girly" and others are not, is because somewhere along the line of our social evolution, the powers that be (ahem, men) determined that humans needed to be categorized by gender, and turned specific likes, dislikes, and actions into gender identifiers because humans are sometimes lazy and the worst.
A feminist who loves the color pink, shaves every hair off of her body, and/or doesn't mind letting a dude pick up the dinner check, is no worse or less than the feminist who only wears black, refuses to shave, and aggressively opens all of her own doors. The very definition of feminism is the belief in equality. Real, true, for everyone equality — and that means equality of the sexes, and equality within the feminist community.
It bares repeating. What. You. Like. Doesn't. Impact. Your. Self. Worth. (Unless what you like is Donald Trump. I mean, I'm trying not to judge, but maybe you should evaluate yourself a little.)
Liking something, or not liking something, doesn't make your better or worse than anyone else. Just because a woman values a good rom-com and a day of pampering at her local spa, doesn't mean she is incapable of fighting for gender equality in a very real, very honest, and very passionate way.
A true feminist wouldn't mock another woman for her choices. While many women believe that marriage will never be a feminist choice, and many don't see motherhood as a feminist choice either, that doesn't mean that the feminists who do decide to get married and/or have children, should be mocked, ridiculed, or considered less than those who do not make those same choices.
The entire original point of feminism was to give women freedom to make their own choices about their body, their lives, their careers, their families, and their futures. Those choices, regardless of how they may differ from our own, should be valued and appreciated, not judged and looked down on.
You don't have to spend your time and energy fighting for the right to simply like what you like, because, well, what you like is considered "normal" for a woman. However, when you're a feminist who also happens to like those things, you're in a fantastic position to turn the patriarchy on itself. The fight for equality isn't about limiting the choices women have, but about expanding them. And as a woman who fits within the "status quo," you have the unique opportunity to fight for women who may not like what you like, but certainly do deserve the right to find their own niches and enjoy their own preferences, too.
Just because you choose to adhere to gender norms or fit within a socially constructed ideal of beauty, doesn't mean you're spitting on the work of every feminist that has ever come before you. On the contrary, you're exercising your rights that countless women have fervently fought (and continue to fight for) today. I'm usually not one to speak for others, but I'd venture to guess that the feminists of old wouldn't want the women of today to feel beholden to a specific ideal, or shackled to certain preferences that would make them easily identifiable as a feminist. I would guess that those women would simply want us to live our lives, however, whenever, and in whatever manner we choose.
Shaving your legs doesn't mean that you worship the patriarchy; letting a man open the door for you doesn't mean that you're a slave to misogyny; wearing makeup doesn't mean that you're desperate to adhere to social beauty standards. Are those things true sometimes? For some, I'm sure they are. But the only way to know that for sure is to actually get to know the person. It's about time we stop looking at what a person likes, dislikes, or even how a person looks, only to make sweeping assumptions about them.
Sorry that there are no shortcuts to unburden you of the work of getting to know who people really are (which is all stereotypes basically exist to do). Ask people questions. Engage in conversation. Get to know someone (I mean really get to know them) because attaching arbitrary meanings to something as simple as a person's favorite movie, is old news.