Boys will be boys.
If he’s mean to you, it’s just because he likes you.
Skinny girls are pretty girls.
Love is hard.
Women belong in the kitchen.
All of these “lessons” are lessons I was taught as a young girl and I bet you were too. When I was 6, 9, and 12, they were fact. But, when puberty hit, these “harmless” lessons started to reveal themselves to be harmful, wrong, outdated, and toxic.
Entering relationships as a teenager, I began accepting treatment that wasn’t ok. I said “ok” to give in to sexual pressure, I said “ok” to being disrespected and degraded, I said “ok” to fulfilling the stereotype of the “hot girlfriend” that always pleases and idolizes her man and never asks questions.
It didn’t stop there. College came and went and throughout that chapter, I continued to accept behavior from men that wasn’t kosher. I was touched when I didn’t consent. I was talked to in ways that would make me blush from embarrassment. I was treated like a doll with no control of my own limbs. I became involved in an extremely emotionally abusive relationship that had a track record of becoming physical and after four years of abuse, a light in my head turned on.
Was this my fault or society’s?
What This Did To Me
The trauma that I have endured, unfortunately, is not uncommon. If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve been talked to or touched in a certain way that you didn’t consent to. For me, this trauma created blockages in my relationships. As a perfectionist in all aspects of my life, I became a “pleaser.” I focused highly on my significant other to make sure they got all they needed and wanted, while simultaneously, forgetting about my needs, wants, and desires. This is what I thought a girlfriend did. Then, inevitably, depression followed because I wasn’t meeting my needs and he didn’t give two shits about them either.
From there, it was a domino effect. A spiral. I started having self-doubt that I wasn’t good enough. I started fearing abandonment. I couldn’t even enjoy alone time anymore. I felt the need to be present and in control and cater to all of my partner’s needs. I forgot ME.
A lot of women go through similar struggles. Of course, we all have a different journey and face our own obstacles. Some women struggle with trust, some struggle with jealously, and others struggle with fitting a certain mold.
But, all of this is bullshit. These “harmless” sayings are not harmless at all. They are introduced to us at birth when society confirms that we have a vulva. And from there, expectations and acceptances are thrust upon us.
So, what do we do? I say we change the narrative. Fuck, Boys will be boys. This is what we should be teaching young girls.
You Are Enough
It sounds cliche, but it’s a fact: you are enough. It doesn’t matter what your family, friends, teachers, or partner says; what you are is all that you need to be. It’s so easy to scroll through your feed on Instagram or sneak a peek at a reality show and begin to think you need to be a certain type of woman. But, that’s far from the truth.
You were not put on this earth to be a doppelganger Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, or Becky from down the street. You were put here to be YOU and YOU, only. As long as you are being your best self with the energy that you have at this present time, you are enough and you should be proud.
Skinny Doesn’t Equal Beautiful
The old-school stereotype that skinny equals beautiful is trash. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and they’re all enticing to look at. Some have narrow hips and naturally bushy eyebrows. Others have big booties and short necks. But, that’s what makes an attraction so special.
It’s ok that people have preferences when it comes to how their partners look and how they, themselves, look. It’s a part of sexual chemistry that we cannot ignore. That’s why it’s foolish to put beauty in a box.
It’s Ok To Set Boundaries
It doesn’t matter if they are family. It doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend. It doesn’t matter if they are your partner of 12 years. Putting proper and reasonable boundaries in place in all of your relationships is necessary and healthy.
You do not have to “go with the flow” or do what you see others do. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, there is no reason why you have to endure it. Listen to your heart, your mind, and your gut and set boundaries that make you feel safe, happy, and secure.
Breaking the Mold Is Ok
You don’t have to be a cookie-cutter version of anything or anyone. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t be in a male-dominated field such as tech. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you have to have children and a family and stay at home all day doing laundry and changing diapers. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t wear a suit and a tie when you want to wear a fucking suit and tie!
Breaking the mold is encouraged because, without those mold-breakers, women are stuck in the kitchen baking bread. You don’t have to fit in with society’s old-fashioned thinking or follow what others expect of you. Follow your heart, take some chances, and see where it takes you.
Take Pride In What You Do
Pride is a touchy subject because it tickles our egos. Men who are prideful are confident and sexy. Women who are prideful can be seen as “too much to handle” — a phrase used to put women back into their “place.”
Being prideful is healthy. Feeling a sense of happiness from hardworking accomplishments is natural and should not be repressed. Women should be encouraged to celebrate their achievements and harness that satisfaction to propel themselves forward. Because if we aren’t rooting for ourselves then who is?