Relationships: Caitlyn and Femininity

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Just a little under nineteen years ago I was born. And I was born a girl.

Unbeknownst to me, a then blonde haired adventurer starting out in the world, this was going to mean
many things; it would determine my opportunities, the standards set for me, the way I would be
viewed and treated, and simply how I would be brought up. As a box standard “tom-boy” I didn’t see
the difference between me and any of male friends, even our hair lengths were similar most of
primary school. I grew up with parents who strongly believed in gender neutral parenting, a pale
green bedroom, Barbie’s and train sets, blue and pink clothing – from whichever gender section I
wanted to venture into. I never knew how lucky I was throughout my childhood, how beneficial this
choice my parents made for me was.

At secondary school, I began to understand the difference immensely. I was no longer bouncing
between my male and female friends, I was pushed into a split of single sex groups, pushed towards
opposite gender attraction, and the best ways to gain this attention. I was shunned for my lack of
makeup, the choices I made about my body, the way I dressed. I had gone from being comfortable
without defining myself to having to over-exaggerate myself, all for others.

A late bloomer, an undiscovered pansexual, a confused girl who started to hate her body, her mind,
her lack of so much. It didn’t matter about having fun with friends but who I was supposed to be in
competition with, who I was meant and not meant to like, how I had to present myself. Being female
started to seem like a bad dream. The unlucky ticket. The short stick.

My femininity is something that I began to hate. To me it just meant the ridiculous pressures of
society, the uncomfortable comments and looks of boys I knew, and men I didn’t. Being a girl meant
nothing more than being scared outside and hating inside. I fell into the trap of self-disgust along with
most of my friends – trying to wade above the surface of false expectations. I was pushed into a
corner where I began to believe I could only be validated by male attention, by conforming. I gave in.

I refused to leave the house without makeup on, I spent ages swapping and changing outfits to make
sure I looked good enough, for them. It wasn’t just the expectations of others that damaged my self-
perception, but I began to believe I was entirely unattractive for my shape, or lack-of, I wanted curves,
but I didn’t want stretch marks; I wanted a more petite frame, but I didn’t want to lose my height. I
was in a constant battle of tearing all my features apart.

Three years later, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I am beautifully in love with every angle of my
body. Sure, there are things I’d probably change if I could – but every time I try the 30-day squat
challenge I only make it half way before I remember I’m beautiful regardless and give up. But my
femininity isn’t something for me to hate. To be a strong feminist I had to realise that hating on being
female just made it impossible for me to prove how as a woman, I am just as important as any man. I
learnt to love my curves – that finally appeared with those many crackling lines through my skin,
which I consequently adore – I learnt to love the softness of my skin, the way my body was left gentle and delicate in its edges, but still so strong and defiant in my structure. I learnt to love my voice, higher than my male friends but just as sharp tongued and witty if I need it to be. I learnt to love my long hair, my changing hair that held my mind that was pushing for nothing more than a fair future. I had to prove to myself (and nobody else) that to make a difference in the world I had to know that I was worthy of equality. Female artists, poets, writers, singers, politicians, all inspired me to learn to love my perceived emotionality, kindness, maternal instinct, and to recognise the burning passion I also have within me, my intelligence, my authority, my leadership. Embracing my femininity taught me to love myself for how I am, and revealed how complete I am.

I am a girl. And I love my femininity. Sometimes we don’t get on, when men harass me on the street
or I watch my closest friends being overcome with self-hatred because of social norms. But I will
always, always love what she has bestowed me with, and I will never turn my back on her again.

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