On Being an “Other” Girl

Somewhere out there in the ass-crack of the internet, is an article that discusses “other” girls. Defined as the girls who present themselves as atypical and living in direct contradiction to all feminine stereotypes and expectations, “other” girls harbor tomboyish interests, tendencies, and mannerisms; they are the girls who absolutely cannot be disturbed during the World Cup lest one has a death wish (I love you, T!), and the girls who are frequently told by their mothers to please sit with their legs closed and to please not punch the rude boy in their preschool class who keeps stealing their pencil (even though the little shit-machine totally deserved it…not that I’m talking about myself or anything…). Perhaps the most distinguishing factor of all, is the fact that they lack a kindred understanding of their fellow girls.

“Present themselves as” is the key phrase in the above definition – because the article also boldly claims that these “other” girls are nothing more than “normal,” “typical” girls pathetically attempting to set themselves apart from the herd in order to garner more attention. They are, in short, nothing more than myths.

Which is interesting because out of all the mythical things I have ever described myself as – hobbit, dwarf, mogwai, Vulcan, robot ninja – “girl subgenre” was never one of them. When it comes to where I stand in the pool of humanity, I’m pretty certain I am, in fact, a girl with actual mass who just happens to be quite a lot like the “other” girl just described – and has been that way her whole life, even throughout that awkward period of adolescence when being that way seemed like the worst thing on the planet.

So, hi. I’m Jayne. I exist.

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I like action films, violent crime dramas, and beer. I also like beer commercials. And sometimes, when I’m on vacation and don’t have to give a fuck, I get up and have a beer with my breakfast.  I talk loud, laugh loud, and like my music even louder. I know curses that would make a grown-ass sailor cry vehement tears as they grieve the sudden loss of their pride, and though I curse often, I know when to use those particularly scathing ones. I grew up on war movies (specifically WWII), staged a two-person movie theater walk-out with my dad halfway into Pearl Harbor when we realized we’d been tricked into watching a love story (what the fuck was that, Michael Bay?), and watch Band of Brothers every year (Currahee!). I know how to throw a good punch, know about fifty subtle ways to flip someone off, always kind of manage to fall into a boyish sitting position, and allow myself to burp when I need to (though, to my credit, I always say, “Excuse me,” cuz I ain’t uncouth). And the thing is, these aren’t the interests and facets of my personality that I picked on my own as the ones that make me an “other” girl; no, they are the ones that I’ve had pointed out for me by the girls who got asked to all the school dances that I never got asked to, the girls who flirted often, dated early, and knew the right colored shadows to paint on their eyes. “Ugh, you’re so weird,” they’d tell me with a dismissive laugh, that kind of laugh that says, “You’re not one of us.”

I didn’t otherize myself; I had my female peers doing that for me.

I don’t doubt that there really are some girls out there who put up a tomboyish front in a vain quest for attention that they believe will help their frangible self-esteem. Everyone has that desire in them to be different and to be noticed. Why do you think teenage popstars exist? But I will say, honestly, that it’s fucking ridiculous to do so. Because you’ll never be as good at being someone else, as you are at being yourself. (Am I deep, or am I deep?)

“Other” girls most definitely do exist. But they are not “other” girls. They’re girls. Just like how cheerleaders, wrestlers, lacrosse players, and soccer players can be girls; just like how Blondie, Joan Jett, Janis Joplin, Emma Stone, and Monica Bellucci are all girls. Extremely different girls, yes. But girls, just the same.

Femininity is not an absolute, not an either/or; it’s a spectrum. And on that spectrum are all girls.

I drink beer and drape my arm over my chair like an alpha male, but I also wear dresses, take about an hour-and-a-half to get ready (just ask T), constantly fuss with my hair, and – oh, yes – primp in front of every. reflective. surface. I don’t judge women who eat kale chips, live in bright pink platform shoes, treat themselves to weekly manicures, and dream obsessively about one day marrying Robin Thicke (though I will say that that may prove to be a terrible decision because, c’mon). I may not understand any of it, and we may not be sisters from another mister who’ll braid each other’s hair, but I recognize that those things speak very little about the quality of a person and their capacity for kindness. To each her own, you know?

The only people I judge are disingenuous assholes. And I think that’s fair.

Now, as a special treat for listening to me while I’m on my soapbox, here are my two all-time favorite beer commercials.

1. The Coors Light “Wingman” Song

(I know this shit by heart)

2. The Bud Light “Real Men of Genius” Series

(the Bon Jovi looking singer guy is the best part)

– Jayne

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