Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

The Summer We Reclaimed Our Girlhood

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

It’s no coincidence that both “Barbie” and Taylor Swift consumed the media this past summer. At first thought, their only similarity might be, “Oh, they’re just both so girly.” However, they are related on a much deeper level, yielding the joy of femininity, community and the reclamation of girlhood. Tens of thousands of women and girls wearing pink “Lover” ensembles, sparkly “Fearless” dresses and handmade friendship bracelets all collectively screaming the words to all their favorite songs at Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is not so different from crowds of women and girls dressing up in their favorite pink clothing to enjoy the humor and inspiration of Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie.” The resemblance isn’t purely aesthetic. These two events carry a similar festive atmosphere of collective joy and the unironic celebration of femininity. It was the equivalent of the intense support one receives in the women’s bathroom of a bar—“You look amazing!” “No, YOU look amazing!”—something uniquely characteristic of the female experience. 

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is on track to become the highest-grossing tour of all time, potentially grossing over $1 billion. Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” has also broken numerous records since its release in July of this year. The film made $155 million domestically in its opening weekend, marking the largest opening weekend of the year and the biggest-ever debut for a female director. Their success showcases the demand for media that represents and highlights the lives of women and their experiences.

“Barbie” star America Fererra, who plays Gloria, praised the film in an interview with Etalk for celebrating the unbridled joy of girlhood in a world where girls are often forced to grow up too soon and taught to be embarrassed or ashamed of their “girly” interests.

“Growing up is about leaving behind childish things—particularly for women. Men get to have their man caves and play their video games forever. [For] women, it’s like, ‘[Put] your toys away, do the chores, grow up,’” Ferrara said. Here, she also speaks to the double standard placed on girls, especially when trying to wean children away from “childish” activities and interests. Ferrara continued, saying, “That’s what really touched me about Gloria as a character. This woman somehow made it to adulthood holding on to the value of play and the value of aspiration and imagination. It’s, in a way, counterculture—that we can be a lot of things at once, that we can be joyful and playful and imaginative and childlike, and be a grown woman professional taken seriously.” 

Growing up, many girls experience an era of rejection and rebellion against “girly” things. Maybe I am just speaking for myself here, but I definitely went through a phase in elementary school where I hated the color pink, pretended not to like Taylor Swift anymore and refused to wear dresses. And don’t even get me started on the phrase “girly girl” (I absolutely hated being called this). I felt ashamed of my femininity because I was hearing all these voices around me saying that girls were weak or that these “girly” interests were silly and stupid. Now, after years of reflection and learning that being a girl is actually one of the greatest joys of my life, I shamelessly wear pink and listen to Taylor Swift so much that she is, and will be, my most played artist on Spotify for the foreseeable future. I have proudly accepted the label “girly girl” once again, and this summer helped me do that. 

The summer of the Eras Tour and “Barbie” isn’t just a moment in time, it is girlhood healing after years and years of being told that our “girly” joys are silly or unimportant. Our emotions aren’t irrational, our interests aren’t stupid, pink isn’t annoying and Taylor Swift is objectively the best person ever. We are continuing to change the narrative about women, and we’re not stopping anytime soon. As Taylor said it herself in the song “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve”: “Give me back my girlhood / It was mine first.” 

Hi! I am currently a senior at Saint Louis University studying Speech Language and Hearing Sciences and Spanish! I am from the suburbs of Chicago and love spending my time reading, going to concerts, and being outside!