I May Be A 'Girly Girl,' But I Can Still Kick Your A**

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 
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Pink is my absolute favorite color. It has been pretty much my entire adult life. And not pale pink or dusty rose — I like hot pink, Barbie pink, the pinkest fucking pinks you can find. Those are my aesthetic.

I like dresses with flared skirts, floral prints, and ballet flats. The girlier, the better. In my downtime (and for many special occasions), you’ll find me in my kitchen using my pink mixing bowls to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies or funfetti cupcakes with homemade frosting.

Stereotypically speaking, as far as hobbies and fashion choices, I am a girly girl.

But you know what else?

I am not a person who you want to mess with. If I have to, I will kick your ass with no question, so don’t underestimate me — even if I am wearing pink and offering you a sprinkle cupcake.

I’m still tough as shit, and I will never understand why so many people underestimate women and girls by using things like color palette and extracurricular activities as their guide. Liking the color pink doesn’t make me any less capable or strong.

As a kid, I was obsessed with dolls, but also with race cars and Legos. One of my favorite toys was a cap gun. I never associated my dolls with being “girl toys.” They were just something I enjoyed playing with. They never conformed to the occupations that were given to Barbie back in the ’90s. My Barbies were never teachers or moms. They were rockstars. They were presidents. They were always in charge. But they ruled their world wearing dresses and pink high heels.

My parents never equated femininity with weakness, so I never thought that there was anything women couldn’t do.

When I was in college, I had my own apartment for a year. I lived in a studio, and I didn’t have many friends, so everything that needed to be done had to be done by me and me alone. As we put together my tool kit, everything I picked out was pink. I had a pink-handled hammer, pink screwdrivers, pink everything all wrapped up in a pink box. I loved it. I proudly put together my furniture all by myself, after lugging about a dozen heavy boxes up the four flights of stairs to my place. After putting together the bed frame (and moving a full-size mattress all the way across the room and onto the frame with absolutely no help), I collapsed onto the unmade bed sweaty and breathless, but feeling like I could take on the world. I didn’t need anyone to help me — I could help myself. And it was empowering.

For a long time, I was afraid to embrace my feminine side. For a while, femininity was seen as patriarchal, which is to say that if you chose to be feminine, you were somehow anti-feminist. One day, I just decided to say, “Fuck it,” and just show my unabashed love for the color pink and all things girly that made me happy.

There is a meme that I see make the rounds every few months (especially during the last election) that says something like, “Teach your daughters to worry less about fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings.” I can understand the sentiment to an extent because obviously we do want girls to know they can do whatever they want to do, but the overall sentiment — that we must reject the glass slippers to get there — bothers me.

I grew up on a steady diet of all things Disney; the princesses were my absolute favorite. Hell, they still are, even as an adult. It makes me so angry that society tries to tell girls that princesses are wrong. I believe in fairy tales and happily-ever-afters, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. It’s not holding me back in my life, and it certainly isn’t making me submissive to the patriarchy.

Yes, fairy tales are nothing but make-believe, but what’s so wrong with believing? Believing in fairy tales doesn’t dull my desire to be a strong, independent woman who can take care of herself.

I can wear my glass slippers while I shatter that glass ceiling.

This is not an either/or kind of situation. We must stop teaching young girls (and by extension boys) that women who gravitate toward and enjoy things that are viewed as feminine/girly are somehow less than the women who do not. That is simply untrue. We are just as strong and capable as women who may not like things that are viewed as stereotypically feminine.

My strength isn’t just physical either. Since becoming a mom, my inner strength has been multiplied by a million. Having to raise a child mostly on my own has shown me that I am capable of anything I put my mind to. I willingly stepped away from a solid, long-term relationship because I realized that I deserved better. I had to set an example for the girls in my life to know that they deserve nothing less than the best in my life, even after they become a mom — especially after they become a mom. I have taken control of my career and found ways to use my talents to support myself and my child. And I’ve done these things while wearing pink, and heels, and other “girly” things.

I don’t have a daughter to pass these lessons on to, but I have a son whom I want to raise to understand that women are multifaceted. They are not to be boxed in. And how do I do it? In small ways, every day. I show him that pink is just a color, not a girl color or a boy color, but a color for anyone to enjoy. One of his favorite things is his Doc McStuffins water bottle. The picture is all but rubbed off, but you can still see the pink plastic. One day, a girl on the playground looked at him drinking out of the bottle and looked at me. “Why is he drinking out of a pink water bottle? Pink is for girls,” she said. I looked at her with a smile. “Pink is not just for girls. Pink is so cool. It’s for everyone.” And it is.

So if you need me, I’ll be over here shattering glass ceilings in my glass slippers.

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