When I was growing up, as I’m sure most young girls did, I aspired to me like the women I saw all around me.
I remember around the age of 7 or 8, the girls in the ‘top class’ of my primary school (you know, the ones who were aged 11) seemed so grown up. I was eager…if not desperate, to be grown up just like them.
When asked my age, I was never 6, or 7, I was 6 and a half, 7 and three quarters…those fractions of years made all the difference at that point in time…it made me seem so much more mature than those who were that huge half a year younger.
I remember at almost every stage in my life looking at women who were older than me and thinking…”wow, they’ve really got it together, they seem to have all the answers”…little did I realise that when I got to their age I would still feel like the young girl who was figuring it all out as I was going along.
Do you describe yourself as a girl or a woman?
Most of the women I know still refer to themselves (and are referred to by others) as girls.
Think about how we use the word girl… Girlfriend, out with the girls, girls night in, girly movie, the girl next-door, one of the girls.
…and in popular culture women are often referred to as girls rather than women. When doing a bit of research on this article I saw a great piece on the Forbes.com site that pointed out that “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a movie about a bad-ass woman, who’s still described as a girl…and also questions whether Robert Downey Jr would be keen to play “Iron Boy” in his next blockbuster.
I was also curious to find out that when it came to listing songs with the word ‘girl’ in the title, I found a list of nearly 380 online…but when it came to songs with the word ‘woman’ in the title, there weren’t even 60.
Even a superhero is more likely to be a girl than a woman!
…and Batman’s female counterpart? Batgirl. Superman’s female counterpart? Supergirl. Of course there is Wonder Woman, but she’s in a bit of a minority when it comes to female superheroes, they’re more likely to be ‘girls’ than ‘women’.
So what’s the difference between a girl and a woman?
Well, a girl is one of the facets of being a woman. Every woman on the planet has a girl inside her…but she also has many elements that a girl doesn’t yet possess. Women have access to a wisdom, a depth, an inner calm, a sexuality, a knowing of herself and others, a well developed relationship with her own intuition…elements that come from experience of life, that girls haven’t yet discovered.
So why is it that we’re so tied to the word ‘girl’? Well, it could be to do with today’s media-driven obsession with youth…but for me I don’t think that was the case.
For me personally, it never occurred to me that I was a woman. I still felt like a girl, thought like a girl…and at times acted like a girl too.
Being honest, I didn’t really even know what it meant to be a woman.
Do you need to reclaim the word woman?
In times gone past, and in some cultures around the world there are still traditional rites of passage to mark a girl’s transition into womanhood but in western cultures we seem to have lost touch with the importance of owning our identity as women.
It was during my journey to discover what femininity meant for me, I realised that a part of that journey was claiming and owning the word ‘woman’ for myself.
I was 30 years old…I was way past the dictionary definition of a girl…but I still didn’t see myself as a woman, and certainly wouldn’t use the word ‘woman’ to describe me.
The more I learned about the different facets of womanhood, the more I understood about what it meant to be a woman, the more I realised that one of the most important things for me to do was start to own the fact that I was, and am a woman.
So I began to start describing myself as a woman, rather than a girl. At first it felt a little odd…like putting on a new pair of shoes for the first time when they’ve not been broken in yet…you know they’re yours, and you love them, but it takes a little while before they become comfortable.
As time went on, I felt more and more comfortable describing myself as a woman…until one day I realised it wasn’t a description anymore…it was who I was. It was a part of my identity.
It was me.
The beauty of becoming a woman is that you don’t have to lose your ‘girl’ in the process (though some women unfortunately have).
When you step into womanhood you finally have access to and connect with all of these different elements of yourself…all of the elements of being a woman. You have access to the wise woman, the expressive sexual being, the playful girl, the nurturer, the sensual self, the peacemaker, the intuitive, the emotive feminine…and every other facet of the woman you are.
What’s better is that you also have a choice over what part (or parts) of yourself you choose to bring to any given situation. You can connect with any of these elements at any time, or any combination of them…which can be incredible powerful.
It’s also great when you understand that none of the elements of being a woman are more or less important than the others…it’s when you learn to use and balance them all that you really get to enjoy the full experience of being a woman.
So I’d like to ask you, are you a girl or a woman? Are you like I was? Do you see yourself as a girl, when you’re really a woman? Would you like to reclaim the word ‘woman’ for yourself?
I’d love for you to play with this idea this week, try testing the waters and see how it feels to describe yourself as a woman…does anything come up? How does it feel? I’d love for you to share your experiences in the comments below….
…and remember, girl or woman, to stay fabulous!