Do you remember the first time you were every ashamed to be a girl? Can you remember back… to the day or hour or moment where you realized that your gender made you different in a bad way?

My first vivid memory of girl-shame was about age 11 or 12, young – still a kid. But like most twelve year old girls I was babysitting on the site for extra cash to buy Kaboodles and mini nail polish and creased, well-worn books from the giant used book store that was fifteen minutes from my house.

Babysitting was like an old hat to me. I’d babysat my cousins for as long as I could remember. A fact of life when you have a large, extended family. I’d taken CPR classes in case I ever needed it. I had two younger brothers who I watched when my mom needed to run errants. I was prime babysitting material.

One of the first families I ever babysat for were our neighbors a few streets down. They went to our church and had two boys that were about the same age as my younger brothers. I loved the mom’s wry sense of humor. They had a cuddly rust-colored dog who followed you around the house.

They were nice people. They asked if I would baby sit for them. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, I was happy to.

So I sat around their house a night or two a week, cleaned up after dinner, watched TV with the boys, played games with them, made sure they did their homework and chores, and I made sure they were in bed before their parents got home.

Basically, I treated them like my younger brothers because that’s kind of what they were like.

One of things my brothers and I did all the time was wrestle and see who could throw the other one out of our pillow circle. You know, like at the Olympics on TV. It went along with pretending to be super heroes/ making up our own super-powers or sneaking around the house because we were breaking into a cave to steal treasure.

But I hadn’t yet learned that different people have very different ideas of what is acceptable among kids of the opposite sex.

Wrestling was NOT OK, as I would soon find out.

A few weeks after I had been babysitting for my neighbors I was called by my father to the front door of our house. Never a good sign from ‘he who must be obeyed.’

The two boys I babysat were standing in the dirt driveway of the front yard, each with a parent behind them and a piece of paper in their hands. I was told to stand in front of them because the boys had been very bad and needed to say something to me.

I stood there, two feet away, as each child read they’re letter apologizing to me for wrestling with me in the living room. They told me how wrong they were and how their behavior was shameful and not the way a young man should act around a lady. They said that they had come to ask for my forgiveness and swear to never do it again because it was bad.

The letters, three pages hand written, were each handed to me to keep as examples of their penance. I was then instructed that I needed to tell the boys that I forgive them for their misdeeds.

Never once was it suggested that I was at fault but what conclusion do you think a twelve year old girl would come to? I believed that I was the one who had been in charge so their shame was actually my shame. But the real reason for the shame? It was the fact that I was girl, which meant wrestle in a pillow circle on the living room floor was a big NO NO.

It never occurred to me that, as a helpless female, had no choice in the matter and was forced into a sumo-style contest by the sheer male magnitude of these pint-sized boys, even though the implication was there. I didn’t feel helpless so my young mind went the shame route.

I felt terrible for the boys, their humiliation and mine ringing through the air as every person under five feet shuffled and stared at the ground while their parents exchanged self-approving nods that justice had been served.

That is the first day I ever remember being ashamed that I was a girl.

Had I been a boy, it would have been ok and just rough housing. But if you don’t have that extra part dangling between your legs… you better watch it, honey, because we’re watching you and you are expected to behave differently from you savage, half-beast brothers.

Because you’re a girl.

Fast forward to now and I’m amazed at how many times in my adult life I still let that “You’re a girl” voice direct me. I use to hate pink… and ponies, didn’t really like those MoFos, too girly, too cute. Black and gray were my colors of choice through middle and high school. Ruffles were never allowed to pass by my threshold.

Thank God there is such a thing as growth. None ever taught me how to be a woman. I’m learning that now. Learning about the power and beauty of the female spirit, the feminine energy, my girly-bedazzled soul.

Only at this point in my life can I say I love that I’m a woman. I love being feminine and express that energy into the world but for so many years I shunned my womanhood. I denied that side of myself. I was ashamed of her.

She sucked and needed to ‘toughen up.’ Crying was for pussies. Glitter was the devil’s glue. Get that freakin’ flowery, my-little-pony crap away from me. I thought it left me vulnerable. I thought it made me weak.

Only now, through reading – thinking – talking with women I look up to – reading some more – searching – hunting – falling – crawling back up again and asking some really hard questions – spending a month where I wasn’t allowed to look in a mirror unless I said something nice and loving about myself –

all that and more along with a lot of chocolate and red wine –

now, here, am I starting to revel in the true beauty and power it is to be feminine, to be womanly, to be a fucking girl.

And be proud of it.

To all the strong, feminine, booty-shaking, gorgeous women out there… may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

Love, blessings and pink glitter to you all,

– Olivia –




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.