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Column: Glimpsing into girlhood

Anna Bronk

I hate pink.

I hate makeup. 

Most of all, I hate being a girly–girl. 

That’s what I internalized at the ripe age of nine. I wanted to be a cool fourth grader, not obsessed with silly things like unicorns and rainbows but engrossed in paleontology and the many shades of blue instead. 

I’m not sure where or why I internalized the idea that traditional femininity was inferior.  Maybe, it was when I picked Pokemon cards in a game of White Elephant, and all the adults around me commented on how surprised they were that a girl such as myself would pick such a boy–ish toy. Or maybe, it was when I was handed pink paper at craft time – because a girl would love pink! – instead of blue, even though blue was my favorite color. 

Quite possibly, it was neither. Quite probably, it was both. It was an amalgamation of both of those experiences and every other moment I had seen traditional girlhood looked down upon for one reason or another. 

Even with an elementary school level of conceptualization, I could still recognize I didn’t want to be a stereotype. I wasn’t about to be the cardboard cutout the world expected me to be. Unfortunately, this wise sentiment was hindered by my single–digit–age level of reasoning. Unable to recognize the nuance the situation required, I leaned into the polar opposite: utterly rejecting everything girly. I wanted to be unique, wholly my own. I embraced my already–existing passion for dinosaurs and fossils, spouting dreams of the study of dinosaurs or paleontology. Every time I was met with confusion or surprise, I felt a spark of joy at successfully toppling others’ expectations and norms for me. This part was innocent enough, and I’m glad I enjoyed such a thorough fascination with the prehistoric. However, rather than exploring my true self, my desire to annihilate gendered expectations began to resemble something more like internalized misogyny. 

I had never disliked pink before, but now, I actively avoided it. At the time, I was far from the age where I began dabbling in makeup, but I still swore myself to abstinence from the chalky horrors I was so sure lay ahead. 

However, in my attempts to shake off that very mold of gender norms, I found myself rigidly conforming to them just the same. Instead of hating makeup because I didn’t appreciate the texture or wanted to sleep in during the mornings more than anything, I hated it because of its femininity. Instead of liking blue because I loved the color of the midday sky or the ink of my favorite pen, I liked it because it was the antithesis to pink. My chase for individuality was paradoxical; in shaping myself out of the mold, I had merely shaped myself to its outline. 

It was never actually about the make–up, never about the pink and never about the femininity. It was never about the girl herself. 

Now, finally, I can safely say it’s about the girl herself. 

I wear make–up. I wear it because it’s self-care and indulges my artsy side. I love pink because it reminds me of the beautiful sunsets I saw during my pandemic walks and favorite candies. Simultaneously, blue is still my favorite color, and I like dinosaurs more than I like unicorns. 

I discovered the nuance that was lost on me so many years before. The individuality I yearned for couldn’t be found until I recognized what the word actually meant. It wasn’t tossing expectations to the wayside simply because there were expectations. It was being my own individual by tossing out the beliefs that don’t fit, keeping the ones that do and creating my own. 

The crashing of norms was not supposed to be the end goal. Instead, it should’ve something that occurred on the journey to discovering how my one and only self was truly a one and only. 

Even at a more mature age, armed with these epiphanies, I still struggle to define myself. You could say there’s a flavor of structuralism to my existentialism. The unavoidable stereotypes of society are undoubtedly hard to shake off; I’ve co–existed with them for 16 years and counting and consumed it in the media and my own lived experiences. It’s a journey that I may never see the full realization of. 

To be totally honest,  I’m at peace with that. 

I’ll take the work–in–progress because, quite frankly, I’m done chasing black–and–white absolutism. I’m ready for a mix of the grays, blues and even the pinks.

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About the Contributors
Chenya Kwon
Chenya Kwon, Staff Writer
My name is Chenya Kwon, and I am a staff writer on The Arrow. My favorite part about journalism is being able to interview people. Hearing about opinions, experiences, and stories firsthand makes the stories we write about feel so much more alive and impactful. Outside of journalism, I divvy up my time between cuddling with my cat Buster, painting, and watching my favorite Netflix shows.
Anna Bronk
Anna Bronk, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Anna Bronk, and this is my first year as a staff writer for The Arrow. I chose to be on The Arrow staff because I have a passion for journalism and graphic design. Other than the newspaper, I love to sew, crochet, read, and spend time with my family.
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