Once upon a time I was one of those girls who “wasn’t like other girls.” I prided myself on the fact I was as far away from the scheming and bitching of girl gangs as could be. I automatically distrusted women, removed myself from their environment, and was delighted that every single one of my pals had something swinging between their legs (hint: that’s a penis.)
Thank fuck that now I’m older, I’ve realised how absolutely ridiculous that is.
When I was at school, I was totally ridiculed by girls, and thought I’d never be able to befriend the female species for the rest of forever. We had absolutely nothing to talk about and I wasn’t genuinely terrified by them – I don’t do hair or nails, so that got rid of most of the chatting opportunities with the girls I knew. My lovely mum promised me I’d eventually find my tribe but even at uni I struggled to make friends and resultantly couldn’t contain my (awful) habits of shit-talking other girls who were happy in their clique whilst weirdo Phoebe was out drinking pints with the boys.
It’s funny, because around the same time I developed my mistrust of ladies was also when I was told I couldn’t dance. In fear of sounding too much like a tree hugging moon child, free and flowing movement like dancing is so important for all humans. I was told I was no good at it from such a young age, when I was too dumpy and clumpy for the poised ballet that all the tall and beautiful girls in my class were already perfect at by the age of 6. So I dropped dancing. It was only when I turned 21 and decided to start hula hooping that I re-opened my eyes to the world of movement, and hand-in-hand, met so many wonderful ladies.
For the first time, I felt confident enough to chat to girls as we had a common theme – dancing. They were not just friendly in my first few classes, but kind, supportive, and incredibly generous with their skill-sharing, which was a whole other level of something I’d never experienced – most girls I’d been in contact with, including myself, refused to even tell you where they’d bought their jacket so to keep it for themselves and be ‘better than you’. But these girls told me I could nail the moves I was failing at even when I didn’t believe it myself. They taught me new tricks and giggled with me, not at me, when it went wrong. Meeting these ladies who loved to move and celebrated the use of their own arms and legs and brains and bodies was utterly infectious, and I finally felt like I’d conquered my fear of girls by finding a common theme between us- learning and dancing. And our ability to learn and dance together showed me all the deeper things we have in common too; holy shit, we’re the only beings on the planet that have the ability to pull another life from inside us. We’ve got another universe inside us! Why wouldn’t we want to celebrate that phenomenal (and gross) power, together?
Here comes the hippy inside me again, but thinking back to cavepeople times, women would be together, in packs – whether it was to cook, raise children, talk or just make decisions, ladies worked together, without competition between them. They understood each other’s struggles. They knew strength was in numbers and that made them powerful. Dancing and discovering together does that too. Science has even proven that dancing brings people closer together. My hoop class is full of us laughing as we swap ideas and encourage each other to do new things, and my (badass) dancehall class is literally just shaking your arse for an hour solid whilst a whole room cheers you on and tells you how sexy you are, no matter your body size and shape. How wicked is that?!
Plus my guy friends grew up too, and more importantly, so did their choices of girl. Previously, girlfriends of my best friends were hugely insecure about my relationship with the boys and saw me as as a threat, which used to piss me off no end. But suddenly these new girls were fun, friendly and wanted to hang out. Looking back, can see that I used to behave that suspicious way too and suddenly it made girls’ attitudes so much clearer.
All the younger girls in us go through the same struggle – I could launch into a gigantic rant here about media influences, patriachal culture and so much more, but the only important thing to take from it is this: girls are made to feel like they need to compete with each other – for boys, looks, skills – from the earliest possible age, whereas boys are taught it’s all just fun together. It’s how the world keeps control of badass women. It’s how commercial beauty products make money. It’s why girls hate each other. Why do you think girls are so full of compliments when they’re drunk in the toilets? Because it’s pure and real – the bollocks we’re fed daily about needing to be better, skinnier, funnier than the rest all falls away when you’ve got half a bottle of Prosecco down your neck.
I’m not saying dancing cures all (make your own mind up about Prosecco) and that if you’ve got beef with some girl you should just go shake your tits together at a rave and everything will be dandy, and suddenly social media won’t exist and the ridiculous standards for women will be obliterated. The unrealistic online photoshop drama seems like it’ll never end, plus I’ll never get on with every girl – just as nobody gets on with everyone, period (see what I did there? On a post about women? Hawhawhaw).
But the fact I can now look around me; and be proud to be a girl, and celebrate the strength, community and incredible, intelligent power that our sex brings, is something I never thought I’d be so unbelievably changed by. Step away from what we’re being told makes a lady and just do what you enjoy and there you’ll find women you love. Letting go of the bullshit conditions I’d set in my head, “you’re not a good dancer and you can’t talk to girls”, took me a long while, but since my cage of girl hatred has been busted open, it seems like an awfully huge coincidence that I’ve not met one girl that I thought was an bitch or even had one mean comment made about me. I now understand that even if I did, it’s because that person hasn’t found their girl power and girl gang yet. I’ve even been told I’m awesome at dancing by several strangers. Odd coincidence? I think not.
I’m so happy I’ve found my gang of weird and wonderful circus freaks, who I wouldn’t change for the world . And I now know that as long as my mind is open, that girl tribe won’t stop growing.