Growing up, I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world. Thus, I told myself that I would be ugly–because, after all, girls couldn’t be both. Smarts and attractiveness? Preposterous!

Now, I understand that this kind of thinking was part of my struggle with internalized misogyny. However, this wasn’t an individual struggle. Most girls I knew truly believed that it was impossible to be beautiful and intelligent at the same time. It was a thought shared with a lot of young people, but is entirely false and harmful.

Because I believed that I couldn’t be both, I rejected everything feminine, deeming those that liked them as “idiots” or–even worse–“sluts.” Aside from the slut-shaming, I was so judgmental of girls who wore pink or liked glitter or wore makeup because I honestly hated that I couldn’t be like them without losing my smarts. I wanted to look nice and wear pink, but I wanted to be smart more, which made me very upset and angsty throughout my growth as a student.

Eventually, I met girls: girls who were intelligent and had a lot to offer, yet were also beautiful and self-assured. At first, I was just confused, because that went against the whole narrative fed to me that girls had to choose one to excel at, because that’s how it is. After a while and a lot of talking, I came to two important realizations.

  1. I’m definitely not heterosexual
  2. Girls can do both!!! And everything in between!

This was such a pivotal moment in my growth as a human being, allowing me to finally express myself how I wanted to: with pink and with glitters and with makeup and with skirts and with everything I tried so hard to hate. I wish I had learned that intelligence doesn’t stand in the way of feeling good about how you look and vice versa because I wouldn’t have been so hateful and angry at people for a dumb belief.

I’m going to do all the stereotypically feminine things I want and have a lot to offer to the world. What a revelation.

Note: How you express yourself is entirely up to preference. I am highlighting femininity not to imply that all women want to be feminine, but that I personally wanted to partake in feminine activities but was too ashamed and misinformed. Also, these “feminine” and “masculine” labels don’t have to mean anything if you don’t want it to, so express yourself however the fuck you want! More power to you.

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2 thoughts on “Brains and Beauty

  1. What a great post! Sadly I didn’t realise until decades later in life how important education actually is. Somehow it rather bypassed me. I was led to believe that I’d just marry a nice chap and all would be well with the world. What a terrible shame and what a ghastly mistake. I’m now playing catch-up. I’m so pleased that you’ve managed to work things out for yourself, that is definitely the best way. Katie x

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