I want you to imagine a typical "girly girl" and consider what she might like, how she might behave, and to some extent, her purposes and aspirations in life. Chances are, your first associations with the "girly girl" are somewhat in line with:
• She is a materialistic person. Pretty gowns and, of course, jewelry are favorites of the Girly Girl.
• She's in touch with her emotions, to the point of exaggeration at times. And she's figured out how to use those tears as a weapon.
• She is only interested in female-oriented material. Comic books are revolting to even think about, and math? Unless you count on figuring out how to calculate buying the new pair of tacky glittery shoes that have just gone on sale. Try watching something as uninspiring as a chick flick.
• Others may wish to pursue a career. Her life goals are straightforward: look cute, find a man, and live happily ever after.
She's frequently portrayed as a character who keeps other women back in films, television shows, and literature. For much of Western history, though, girliness was the norm. Girly Girls were status symbols for families in the past, and the nobility had stringent dress codes that, to our modern eyes, seemed somewhat girly. Girls gained status by acting girly and converting that prestige into marrying well; in other words, it was their responsibility to be pretty and marry whoever their father recommended. It was a largely passive life plan, one in which too much individuality or desire would obstruct progress. Girliness is, at its core, was a commodity and a signifier of wealth and class.
However, different manifestations of womanhood have gradually become viable as feminism has made gains in society. New Women campaigned for the right to work, enjoy sports, and never marry or have relationships with other women. From then on, there were two types of girls: the traditional Girly Girls and the pioneering ones.
Girls with gender-defying ambitions were no longer outliers, but protagonists. In contrast to First Wave Feminism, which sought legal rights for women, Second Wave Feminism, which began in the late 1960s, attempted to correct cultural injustices against women. And eschewing girliness became a crucial component of this liberty. As evidenced in Jo Freeman's work, it was a feminist's duty to defy gender stereotypes.
Second Wave Feminism left Girly Girls behind by emphasizing a rejection of gender stereotypes. To this day, our society as a whole seems to despise adolescent girls. Their passions are ridiculed, their moods are pathologized, and their attire is scrutinized. This assessment of a girl's interests begins much earlier since we apply the gender binary to practically everything from infancy.