In defense of girlyness

The other night, I was watching The New Girl, in which actress and singer Zooey Deschanel plays the lovable, cute, and (here’s a word she’s sick of) quirky “Jess” who has three dude roommates. The four late 20- and early 30-somethings are all single and attempting to mingle, and meanwhile are living in a converted loft with stalls in the bathroom. If you’ve never seen it, you can probably guess what happens: hilarity ensues.

But in this week’s episode, Jess ends up defending herself to one of the guys’ love interests– a sarcastic but sexy lawyer dressed in black who, for some weird reason, is not charmed by Jess’ cupcakes and and pretty dresses. What’s not to love? Jess’ girly girlyness, apparently.

Let’s talk about the real Zooey for a second, since she’s similar to her character in a lot of ways. Zooey elicits strong reactions from people to begin with. You either love her, hate her, or don’t know who she is. If you love her, it’s either because you want to date her or be her best friend. Personally, I would like to be her best friend so we could rock polkadots and have a picnic in the park. If you hate her, you probably had a disturbed childhood. But for some reason, not everyone likes the pretty girl with big, blue eyes and the voice of a bird. Haters gon’ hate, I reckon.

But this episode did get me thinking about my own girly tendencies. Since she’s the protagonist, I was of course rooting for Jess. Especially when she yelled, “My checks have farm animals on them, bitch!” On the other hand, the lawyer girl wasn’t a total villain, either. In fact, I could relate to her dry and somewhat snarky sense of humor, and any female can empathize with the insecurities she admitted to that arise in a new relationship. (This was the root of their head butting, after all.)

I decided that I fall somewhere in between the two girls personality-wise. I don’t wear a business suit, but I don’t have a ribbon hat, either. I love make-up, but I’m just meh about glitter. I’m not bash-your-head-against-the-wall sweet, but I certainly ain’t no straight-up bitch, neither. I don’t know why I keep talking like this.

But I defend Jess and/or Zooey’s right to be ultra-feminine, and if that includes a matching personality, then so be it. It’s a definite trend in our culture these days for girls to be sassy and sarcastic, and I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. (Have you read my Twitter feed?) What is a little troubling, though, is how much I see it on TV shows for kids. My sisters are 10 and 12– pre-teens in the making– and so many of the shows they watch on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel are cast with nothing but shrimpy, smartass kids. Their “humor” consists of nonstop deadpan digs at one another, and I can’t help but think what kind of monster of a new generation we’re raising when overpaid child actors show nothing but a lack of compassion. Not to get all political. But I’m throwing it out there.

That might seem off-topic, but I see a correlation. When my family moved into a new house over two years ago, my youngest sister– just eight at the time– got to pick what color she wanted to paint her room. She went with the pinkest of pinks, and the whole room was little girl heaven. She loved it, but soon got some flack from “friends” who said pink was too girly. I know– if only that were the worst of our problems. It’s a common heartache among little girls, sure, and the walls have remained pink since, despite some negative attention. But as my mom pointed out, my sister’s dire need to wear dresses every single day was immediately eradicated and replaced with jeans. Some of that inherent girlyness was squelched.

So it’s refreshing to see a character like Jess who is dorky, funny and, yes, girly in the spotlight rather than as a two-dimensional background character. Simply put, she’s relatable. Good acting, maybe. So good, in fact, that (girly moment coming up!) I got bangs yesterday and am just realizing that I now have something else in common with Zooey. Maybe we’re meant to be best friends, after all.

I got photobombed by a laser-eyed cat.

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  1. I am all about being girly, wearing make-up and pumps. But, don’t let that fool you, I definitely have the snarky, sarcastic (maybe a tad bitchy) side to me as well. In the case of your sister, I think we all have felt the pangs of adolescence. My room was painted purple and I effing loved the shit out of unicorns, but in the 7th grade, that’s not cool to some people. I instantly toned down my obsession with unicorns to try and fit in with the rest of the awkwardly tall, lanky 7th graders. I think once you reach your 20’s femininity takes over again and it’s applauded to act/speak like a lady. I applaud your effort on taking note of how women have always have a constant battle with their character.

    ps- I just watched your vlog singing Alanis, and I LOVED it. Thanks for sharing

    • You know, unicorns are pretty awesome. I think you were ahead of your time, because they’ve definitely made a resurgence in popularity.

      Sometimes I forget that Alanis video is still up for all the world to see. Slightly embarrassing, but I’m glad you got a kick out of it. πŸ™‚

  2. My girls will be all too soon in this transitional stage. Leaving some girlyness behind that is – they haven’t mentioned bangs yet, which by the way you rock. I like the inspired move. And your tangent…Disney…I agree, and now somehow πŸ˜‰ we don’t get those channels anymore – it’s not being missed at all….

    • Hey thanks! And good for you for letting Disney “disappear.” Funny how once something so addictive for the kids is gone, they find other stuff to do with their time.

  3. I’m definitely something in the middle too. But I think I’m a little closer to being like Jess than most are! Love the bangs! Look really great on you!! Thank you for visiting my blog and for that sweet comment. I’m definitely going to come back here to see what’s you shoot with that Minolta πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for checking mine out, as well! Still getting used to the actual STYLING of the bangs (forgot about that commitment in the heat of the moment), but I’ll get used to them. Minolta pics to come hopefully in the very near future!

  4. I definitely relate more to Jess than the lawyer character. I love pretty dresses and all things girly. I take a few ballet classes a week. I love curling my hair. My favorite color is purple but pink is a close second. Yet even I have to say that the ribbon hat was pretty ridiculous…; ). I think that maybe because nowadays women are way more independent and likely to stand up for themselves when needed, girly-ness seems like a threat to this newfound sense of self and strength? Like,maybe the attitude is that, if I am girly I can’t be tough and confident, too? I don’t know. Just a thought. : )

    P.S. I SO considered getting bangs after watching New Girl last week. Your bangs look great!

    • That’s a pretty good point, Hannah. I’m sure a lot of girls and women feel like you have to be one or the other. Maybe it’s just the Libra in me (we’re balanced, fair, and indecisive), but I don’t see why we can’t be both tough AND girly. πŸ˜‰

      Also, I LOVE to curl my hair, too. Might have to try it with the new ‘do. Join me and GET THE BANGS!

  5. Wow, you do kind of resemble her now. Pretty girly girl, I like!

  6. While I definitely relate more to the snark (my blog and twitter feed will attest to that), I will say that a dress and some platforms make me equally happy as a pair of jeans and Osiris kicks do. I don’t think there’s a “right” way to be a woman at all and I fully respect the girly girls!

    I think part of the reason that people take issue with the concept of the girly girl is that with that image comes the assumption that they’re also all rainbows and sunshine and unnaturally high voices and that there is an idea that to wear the make-up an dresses etc is to be “more ladylike/feminine” than if you don’t. I think you make a clear distinction here so thank you! β™₯

  7. I couldn’t agree more. So many confuse being a smart, independent, and ferociously spirited lady with being a stone cold fox. Not to say that our stone cold foxes can’t possess those qualities, either; it’s just that the those qualities are not mutually exclusive with ANY personality type.

    I third it! There is no right way to be a woman.

  8. Lately I’ve found myself trying to ease up a little on some of my ultra-girly habits, and wishing I were a little more like some of my cool, outdoorsy, beer-drinking, snowboarding, sports-watching friends in order to not terrify the outdoorsy, low-maintenance guy I’ve been seeing, but damn it, I like my “girly things. I’m a strong, bright, independent woman, and a feminist and I own a pair of light-up tinkerbell sandals and bake a mean macaron. Any dude who doesn’t think that’s awesome can just go camping alone.

  9. I really liked this post and totally agree that the inner girly girl in children is being squelched by negative characters on kids TV shows. It used to be that the snotty, whiny, snarky characters were villains not “cool,” hello Angelica from Rug Rats!? I think a positive female character that embodies both brains and common decency is a must for young girls these days. Way to go!

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