The Epitome Of Being A Girl

When I was at University, all that my girl mates used to talk about was Love Island. Who made the best couple, who wore the best bikini, blah blah blah. But, with desperation to fit in with the crowd, I binged the whole fifth season in three weeks. Although it had some funny moments and I was able to join in on the Amber and Gregg debate, it left me feeling brain dead by the end of it. But when the conversation would constantly turn to Love Island, I joined in and didn’t let it show that behind my engaged tone, lived a dark hatred for the show.

Since my childhood, I’ve felt confined by stereotypes. At school, all the girls would have long hair extravagantly plaited back from their face or descending down their back. Mine was cut above my ears, resulting in many strangers mistaking me for a boy and gaining a role as Oliver in the school play. On ‘Dress As Your Favourite Character Day’, all the girls would be a Disney Princess or Hannah Montana, while I was dressed in a suit and glasses trying to imitate David Tennant as Doctor Who.

Having three brothers, you would think that I would be encouraged to be a tomboy. But while the boys were driven to football club, I was expected to stay home and play with my ‘girl appropriate’ toys. Boxes filled to the brim with Lego and Connect were dotted about my brothers WWE postered bedroom, whereas mine was filled with pictures of Bratz, pink flowery wallpaper and a huge pink dresser. The colour made me scream, and the second I was old enough to, I painted my bedroom walls blue.

It felt like everyone had been given a guide, and I’d been left off the mailing list. I’d missed out on the ‘how to be a successful girl list’ which apparently only included liking dolls and worshipping the colour pink. Instead, I’d been sent the ‘how to be seen as an outsider – watch constant reruns of Doctor Who, and listen to loads of rock music’.

What I didn’t understand the most was that when I liked something that had a heavy male association, other people seemed to get angry. “You can’t like Football!” or “You can’t be interested in gaming!”. I am still trying to figure out the enigma as to why others become so distressed because it doesn’t affect them. They don’t have to sit through The Bratz Movie, I do.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy girly things. Alongside Doctor Who, I was binging Hannah Montana and all the classic Disney Channel Shows, while painting my nails purple and reading all the glossy magazines. I enjoy wearing makeup and dressing up in a fancy, frilly outfit. I just don’t think it’s fair to expect me to like everything that is ‘girly’.

After many years of fighting against the grain, I’ve realised: It’s not me, it’s you. It’s all the people who categorize everything into boxes. You’re the problem. Why is a girl a ‘dike’ if she wants to play football? Why is a female called a ‘lady-boy’ because she has a short haircut? And why are you weird if you’re a girl who doesn’t like Love Island?

This is not to say that girls shouldn’t enjoy Love Island – as that would be a polar opposite problem. The issue is when everyone becomes obsessed with gender– just because the majority of people that watch football are male, doesn’t mean that it is a male sport. And if a boy enjoys watching Love Island, that shouldn’t make him a ‘pussy’.

Let us like what we like and leave us to it. And if you want to criticise what I like, that’s fine. Just don’t bring my gender into it.