#LikeAGirl: The Stereotype of Femininity

Picture of By Asiah Capponi

By Asiah Capponi

When people are asked to run like a girl, or fight like a girl, and throw like a girl, they immediately think of floppy and uncoordinated movements. Strength is not a quality a girl is expected to have, as well as power and determination. When asked to imitate an action like a girl would do, what comes to mind is humiliating. Girls are not expected to do certain things in certain ways. 

The stereotypical idea society has of girls’ ways of doing things does not represent reality so, where does it come from? Why do we think of girls as cute and fragile humans and men can represent strength and power? We have this idea because we grew up seeing it everywhere around us and, without even realizing it, we made the stereotype real.

Why do I have to feel like less of a woman if I don’t wear make-up?

Why do I have to feel like less of a woman if I don’t like to sexualize my body?

Why do I have to feel like less of a woman if I don’t want to have children and a nice house?

Why do I have to feel like less of a woman if I have lots of muscles? 

Those muscles help me fight and I like to have the possibility to play a sport, to throw a ball and make a touchdown. 

Those muscles gave me the possibility to do what I love, so why do I have to feel less feminine because my arms are too big? And then, too big for what exactly? 

On The Cover Of A Magazine

We have this perfect idea of what a woman should look like: she is sexy, thin, without scars. But is this even possible? Absolutely not. And yet, I find myself wondering, looking at my reflection in the mirror every day, and thinking that maybe I should eat less because my thighs are too fat, or I should workout a bit, my arms are floppy, and nobody likes a girl like that. It all comes down to this: we want to be liked. We desperately desire the approval of others. We buy nice clothes, we learn how to wear make-up in the best way, we do our hair every morning, we wear perfume. We do everything we are expected to do and still, something doesn’t feel right. We still don’t look like those women we see in magazines. Are we a lost cause?

Women’s bodies have been objectified in commercials for a century now and we might think the situation got better once Feminist Movements started to grow and women spoke up to have more rights. However, the situation only escalated with time: Photoshop was certainly a game-change; finally, pictures could be edited and women could be made even more perfect and flawless on magazines covers. Pimples and scratches are removed, body parts that are considered ‘too big’ or ‘too small’ can be altered, all to reach the ideal of perfection. An ideal that young girls and women are exposed to every day and they will definitely never be able to reach. 

The Fine Line Between Nun And Slut

When people are asked to act like a girl they will shove their long hair behind a shoulder and bat their eyelashes. 

When people are asked to act like a man they will arch their chest and show their muscles. 

Is this actually progress?

We are in the 21st Century, a progressive time if you ask me, or at least a progressive time is what we tell ourselves we are living in. But is it progress if women still have to be careful about how to dress because, if you are showing too much then you are a slut, but if you show too little then you are a nun. Is this actually progress? Women should be able to dress and act however they want without being scared of what could happen to them or what others will think of them. Women are still not free and, until we are, times can not be defined as progressive. 

Someone, nevertheless, has to start so:

I will not feel less of a woman if I’m single.

I will not feel less of a woman if I like to box.

I will not feel less of a woman if I have hair on my body.

I will not feel less of a woman if I don’t know how to curl my hair.

I will not feel less of a woman; in fact, I will feel more of a woman if I don’t look like I belong on the cover of a magazine. 

Redefining The Stereotypes 

Life is so much more than a commercial in between a show and a picture on Instagram. Life is every day and we spend so much time trying to figure out how to reach the standards to be like a girl, while maybe, we should just figure out how we want to be and what we want to mean by running like a girl, and fighting like a girl and throwing like a girl. 

Changing stereotypes is not easy, mostly when they are so radically imprinted in our minds and culture, it’s hard work and it takes time, but we can fight, and run, and throw like girls, so we should just show the world how it’s truly done. 

Many women today, like Ellen DeGeneres, Michelle Obama or Christiane Amanpour, challenge these stereotypes, showing the world that a woman can be strong and fierce. However, there is still this idea linked to the ‘female role model’: you need to be successful. It’s almost like society is telling us that, since we don’t want to be considered weak and inferior, we have to rise up and let go of all of those stereotypes that defined us in the past. Women are fighting to be considered as strong as men, but somehow we believe that at a certain point we will have to choose: either you follow this new idea of success or you go back to the old scheme. Either you have a career or you become a mother and a wife. There is still this belief that women can’t do it all. But we can. These strong and affectionate women are teaching us this: we can have it all, it won’t be easy but we can certainly do it. 


Cover: Rachel Claire

Edited by: Younes Skalli 

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