Reclaiming Girlhood

Reclaiming Girlhood

Photo taken by Sophia Carter

A look into our childhoods which were taken too soon

Cross your legs - it’s not ladylike to sit like that. 

Don’t yell - it’s not appropriate. 

Most girls have probably heard something along those lines when growing up. You were given a list of things you should never do because it is unladylike. You were told how to behave in a way that doesn’t draw attention to yourself. You were taught to be clean, quiet and docile because that is how a lady must behave. 

From early on, there is a clear difference in the way that boys and girls are raised to behave. As girls, our childhood was taken from us too soon, and we were forced to grow up well before our male peers. While we were being taught how to behave like ladies, boys were given the freedom to run free. No one cared if a boy was slouching, burping or chewing with his mouth open. No one cared if a boy was running around, making noise and getting dirty. That was what was expected of them. 

Even the toys we were given showed the difference between the expectations of boys and girls. According to Megan Maas, assistant professor of human development at Michigan State University, there’s a major difference.

“Toys marketed to boys tend to be more aggressive and involve action and excitement. Girl toys, on the other hand, are usually pink and passive, emphasizing beauty and nurturing,” Maas said.

Boys were supposed to play with trucks and legos - they were taught to make a mess and build something. Girls were supposed to play with baby dolls and fake kitchens - they were taught to nurture and to clean. 

In an interview with etalk following the release of the “Barbie” movie this summer, actress America Ferrara discussed this idea. 

“Growing up is about leaving behind childish things, particularly for women. Men get to have their man caves and play their video games forever. And women, it’s like, ‘Toys away, do the chores, grow up,’” said Ferrara. 

Because of how quickly most girls were forced to grow up, we did not get the chance to experience unabashed girlhood. We had to learn how to take care of other people and how to present ourselves to society. 

This year, it seems like there has been a collective movement of reclaiming our girlhood. I have witnessed the women in my life experience childhood joy for the first time in a long time. 

A big part of this is due to the “Barbie” movie, which does a good job of capturing the female experience. This movie demonstrates the transformation that girls go through when they realize what is waiting for them in the real world. 

While the women in the movie experience the fear, beauty and confusion of womanhood, the men in the movie experience the freedom and simplicity of manhood. The contrast between Barbie and Ken’s experiences demonstrates the reality of how girls and boys grow up. 

Girls are forced to grow up too soon, while boys are able to express interests that might be considered juvenile without being criticized. 

When “Barbie” came out, women of all ages were able to dress in pink and be girls again. It was a beautiful thing to witness multiple generations of women come together to celebrate each other and their girlhood. 

In addition to the “Barbie” movie, Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour also gave women an opportunity to dress up and celebrate femininity. 

Both events were made up of crowds of women uplifting each other and freely expressing their joy, something that we don’t see enough of in our world.