Posted by: unlikelygrad | August 21, 2011

on being girly

I don’t know if the stereotype that female scientists are tomboys actually is true for most of the scientific world, but it is definitely true for me.

I grew up in a home where looks weren’t valued much; after all, it’s what’s inside (especially inside your head) that counts, right? Also, we were poor and I had two older sisters. Thus, I ended up being the sort of person who wore hand-me-downs (8 years out of style and patched), never put on make-up, etc. Some of my sisters got into the girly thing a bit, but only a bit.

Plus, I grew up learning that Girls Use Power Tools Too; that anything a man can do, my mom could probably do just as well–for a lot less money. I learned all of these things while also reading sci-fi, climbing trees, learning survival skills from my brother, and generally Acting Like A Boy.

I don’t think I really had any desire to be a girl until I had a husband and 3 boys. The testosterone levels in our little house were through the roof (and we were a one-car family, so I didn’t get out nearly as much as I needed). The problem was that even though I decided I liked being ‘girly’, I didn’t know how.

It’s been over 10 years and I still don’t know how. I know how to put on make-up, but I don’t really like to wear it. My figure isn’t one that looks good in ‘girly’ dresses (though I do wear skirts sometimes). I’ve started buying necklaces to wear when I go somewhere semi-dressy, but I don’t really have any other jewelry. I’ve never gotten my ears pierced, either.

I actually painted my toenails the other day–I figured I ought to do it at least once before I turned 40. But it seems like a tiny step.

I don’t know–maybe I just can’t be girly. I will never give up my power tools in favor of needlepoint or knitting. I don’t think I can stop being an adrenaline junkie. I feel like I could make myself look like a girl, but I would never act like a girl.

Maybe I am beyond redemption in this regard.


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