breaking the wall down, one heel at a time…

Ahhh stereotypes…they follow us around like gnats, or the plague, or the memory of that one horrible summer when you decided to cut your own bangs and wear a red track suit every day that swished when you walked.

Shudder.

I get stereotyped A LOT (well, we ALL do, really…). In middle school, I was as the “snobby sports girl” thanks to the rumor that went around that my nose job was purely for aesthetic reasons and not for any medical purpose whatsoever. In high school I was the “goody two shoes sports girl” thanks to the fact that I immersed myself in every honor’s society, social club and sporting event possible, leaving no time for me to get high or drink Smirnoff Ice’s with my friends down at “the Barn” or whoever’s house was parent-free that weekend. Right after high school and in college I was the “crazy sports girl” thanks to my unleashing of years of repressed wildness and debauchery. Literally, there is no other way to describe it. A floodgate of bad choices broke open, causing the good decisions to either get washed away completely, or lost in the muck of turmoil and “good times”.

Debauchery aside, (ha) did you notice anything about those stereotypes? If you didn’t, I’m sure it’s just because you still have the image of me in a red swishy track suit burned into your mind….so let me just tell you: they all had the words “sports girl” in them.

I’ve gone my entire life under the pseudonym of “the athlete” or “the sporty one” or (my favorite…and please note the sarcasm) “the jock”. Yes, every girl DREAMS of being called a jock by her guy friends. It makes her feel oh so feminine and desired 🙂

I didn’t care as much in college. Obviously, I was a jock. When I wasn’t playing games, practicing drills, or lifting weights, I was with my team, downing protein shakes like water, lounging in our sweats, or studying at the library. Oh, and partying like a rock star. 🙂 But that’s a whole other story….

In college I didn’t care about the fact that most days I showed up to class in my Lady Back soccer sweats, my hair braided down my back and no makeup (because it’ll just get sweated off at the next practice!). I fed the stereotype because it made me feel powerful in weak situations, it made me feel important in a crowd, and, most of all, it gave me an identity when I felt like I had none at all.

Then something shifted. Something deep inside me realized that it didn’t want to feed that stereotype anymore.

The shift came basically around the time that I stopped playing soccer, but I feel as if it would have happened regardless. There was just a moment when I realized that being girly was okay. For years I was afraid of the stereotype: the girly girl, the cutesy, oh-so-perky girl who struggled across the campus lawn in her heels, determined to keep her style (and dignity) intact while clinging to her skirt in case another gust of wind rushed through the commons, revealing to all who stood witness just what kind of panties she had on that day (personal experience…). You’d see them at the football games, dressed to the nines, showing their school spirit in the form of a tight-fitting dress with matching pumps. You’d hear them in the library, the heels of their stilettos clacking as they teetered up the stairs under the weight of their textbooks and tote bag. I’d always laugh and think to myself I would never do that, I would never be that.

And then I became one of them.

It started out with the skirts. Then came the jewelry, and the bags….and then the shoes. Something shifted inside of me. I began getting up earlier in the morning so I could CURL MY HAIR. Gasp! No wet braided pony tail? I’d apply makeup, pick out a dress, and carefully avoid the guilt ridden stares of my running shoes as I’d slip on my heels. Ahhhh….it felt good. It felt right.

You might think all of this sounds strange, but when you’ve gone your entire life under the umbrella of athletic gear and soccer jerseys, the sensation of stepping out from under that was like getting caught in an unexpected April shower: cool, refreshing and most of all….cleansing. I was shedding that old stereotype and gladly accepting the new one. I was allowing myself to feel womanly, feminine, and yes, even beautiful sometimes.

The clothes, hair, and makeup didn’t fulfill the stereotype, they simply encouraged it. They inspired a deeply hidden love for ruffles and lace and satin; for pearls, chandelier earrings and beaded chokers; for stilettos, platforms and wedges. They shed light on my love of fashion as an art form, which is why you’ll find me almost every Saturday at Barnes and Noble, pouring over Vogue and Elle and Glamour, soaking up the images of sharply cut suits, shoes that resemble sculptures and dresses so delicately draped as to highlight a woman’s every curve.

I’m a girly girl, yes. But I’m okay with it. I’m also still a jock, and I’m fine with that too. I’ve come to realize that these stereotypes don’t have to define us. They can instead simply inspire us to pursue our passions in those areas. I’ll admit, if I hadn’t been typecast at such a young age as the “athlete”, I might never have pursued soccer as ferociously as I did. Then, who knows what my life would have been like?

Now, my cleats and running shoes sit right next to my pumps and platforms in my closet. On Sundays I’ll change out of my dress long enough for me to slam people into walls during my indoor soccer game. Then I’m home, showering, and back in pink. 🙂

It’s a complicated life…but someone’s gotta live it 🙂

Have you ever been typecast? What stereotypes do you feed into?

hearts and hugs,

B.

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Comments

  1. The cute, small girl! I used to hate being called cute because I never felt like I was on the same level as my friends. It was almost like I was more of a mascot. But, I will take cute any day or any time now! And I’ll gladly accept small 🙂

    • oh i feel ya on the “cute” thing…always a weird one for girls to get called…I’m like, puppies are cute! babies are cute! i want to be different!

      but now, i like it 🙂

      and you are my small little mishy!! i love it, i can just put you in my pocket!! haha

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