Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cute, Nice Girls

I'm fed up with being cute: I want to be taken seriously.

I was telling Kevin (my boy of significance, though not quite my boyfriend yet) that it seems that young women, especially attractive, polite ones, are viewed as "nice, cute girls" and therefore not taken seriously. It's as if we (yes, "we" because I very much fit into the category of females mentioned above) waiver between status as a passive doormat or an overly aggressive bitch.

I want to be somewhere in between. i want to be seen as a human being and sometimes, I want to be legitimately angry and assertive in order to fix a wrong. I will not apologize if that makes me a bitch.

It can be more subtle, though. In my professional experience, I saw the spectrum. Some people in my office would take me very seriously, even with my embroidered owl skirts and large, ethnic-looking earrings. It would be too simplistic to say it was only men who viewed me as "some nice, cute girl" and therefore didn't treat me as a professional equal. Sometimes, older women were the worst at patronizing younger women in a professional setting.

Honestly, though, I felt I was treated well by co-workers. My work was valued, I was respected. I have good references now to prove it.

It's unfortunate that wardrobe and appearance can dictate the way people treat you, especially if you're a "nice, cute girl." I tried to dress modestly in the office and wore a lot of Ann Taylor clothes. This helped, I think. But I've mentioned the large earrings and the owl skirt. I wonder if clothing will always have such an impact on the way women are respected and treated.

I have nothing against being a polite, genuinely kind person. Emphasis on the word "person." Not "girl." I try to treat people with dignity, respect, and kindness. That's all I want in return. So often young women don't receive all three and settle for latter: kindness, or it's shallow sister, niceness.

But I'm done with it: I'm done being "cute" and "nice." If it makes me a bitch, fine. I'd rather have more genuine relationships built on honesty and respect.


Heather said...

I'm tired of being sweet. Maybe I'll write a post about that this week. You're inspiring me.

Sarah said...

Haha, Gina, I love you! This post is wonderful. I unfortunately veer more to the bitch side of the specturm and often envy you "nice" girls (heather, too!) the adoration of the world at large -- but you're right, adoration is cheap when it lacks respect. I decided a long time ago that respect was more important to me...but I do still have a desire to be as kind as possible and be seen as kind-hearted. It's awful that those two things have to clash so wildly in women. How does on go about being both kind and respected? It's a tight rope to walk.

Jennifer said...

I called in to the radio the other day talking about this same teaching, if a woman is strict she's seen as a bitch, but if a man is strict, that's accepted as just being a good teacher. It doesn't seem fair, somehow, and it only made worse when the teacher is young and pretty.

Also, I've added a link to you on my page--unless you object you're my newest cyber friend. Lucky you. ;)

Autumn said...

"The Dance of Anger," a book written by a female psychologist, talks about this. Women are never taught how to maintain firm boundaries and avoid compromising their convictions in a socially acceptable way.

That's because it's never been socially acceptable for women to have firm boundaries! It's definitely an art, learning how to do it, but it can be done. I know a few rare women who have mastered the technique.

Joyf said...

Augh, Autumn, so true! Thanks for providing the rationale for how this happens. I often feel as though I lack boundaries entirely, so responsive to the world am I, and so unable to extricate myself from it ...

Good post, G! Let's be bitchy together, ladies!