I’m lucky that most of the men in my life have always viewed me as an equal. I was a tomboy growing up and never overly aware of my gender. I did everything my male relatives did, and pursued anything I felt passionate about. I spent time with people that I considered to be all-around good eggs. But, when I hit middle school/high school, everything seemed to shift.
I was suddenly expected to wear “girlier” clothes and take part in “girly” activities. This made me question my entire identity, as though my personal interests made me less of a woman because they weren’t always considered conventional.
Moving forward, I struggled to find a comfortable place in society, in either one group or another. The problem was, I couldn’t do that; I couldn’t commit to being one thing. I wanted to climb trees and wear makeup. I wanted to read many different books and watch many different films, not just the ones that someone said were for girls. My hair length seemed to be more important to my character than my actual good character. A woman once asked me why on earth I would want to have short hair like a boy. I shouldn’t have to explain every personal decision I make, right?
I’ve never understood why my likes, dislikes, and personal appearance held such weight when it came to evaluating my character. It’s wrong to pre-judge someone without getting to know them and yet, it happens on a daily basis. It makes me uncomfortable around men and other women who either over-sexualize me or decide that I’m not a “real” woman.
But, what does that mean? Who decides who a “real woman” is? In my opinion, every woman (with or without a vagina) is a real woman. Women are not paper dolls cut from the same pattern that can be amassed into one giant uniform group. I’m a unique individual. I am seriously into perfecting my eyebrows, but I also don’t care if I’m outside crawling about under the bushes with a dog licking my ear and fertilizer up to my armpits. I’m a human being and I’m allowed to be whoever I want to be. I have to remind myself of that regularly. Owning my identity as a woman is something I struggle with every day. I’m proud to be a woman.
My name is Ashlynn. And I am a Lady. I am a book loving, wildlife/animal freak, overly sensitive, anxiety-ridden, passionate, introverted woman. I use the words “dude” and “man” in regular conversation. I have way too much nail polish, and far too many flannels for one girl. I am made up of a thousand different things that keep shifting and changing as I grow older and I’m trying to be okay with that.