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Redefining Girlhood After the Summer of Women

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

In the greatest sea of pink since October 3rd the year Mean Girls came out, July 21st, 2023 brought women from all walks of life out of the house. Followed by themed parties, every merch design imaginable and the greatest soundtrack for a movie I think I’ve ever heard, the Barbie movie was not only a film but a cultural reset. High off the feminine adrenaline, I celebrated this summer of the Eras Tour, women’s sports and Beyoncé as hard as anyone else. But what was it that made this summer so meaningful, and how can I, as a woman, make sure to keep this energy up?

Let’s rewind. Let’s rewind to the countless times growing up when the implicit biases of those around me affected how they thought of me. I wore a tutu and tiara to school every day of elementary school, so the initial perception from teachers and students was not that of my academic ability. My boy-crazy phase in middle school was recognized as a lack of independence that dumbed down my self-sufficiency. Throughout high school, my passions for traditional “girl” activities like baking and dancing hid my passion for feminism. 

A lot of the time, when people think of feminists they think of those who ditch traditionally feminine things to work towards equality. This is a completely acceptable strategy, but I have never embodied that type of feminist. 

Because of my girly habits growing up all the way until now, people assume that I don’t care about feminist issues and gender equality. I think that’s why Barbie and this summer of women was so special to me; it emphasized the slumber parties, the perfect outfits with matching accessories and the girly fun that embodies girlhood but then connected those things to the gender equality and feminism movements.

There is a type of feminism that emphasizes that we can have certain things as women, princesses, sparkles and pink, and also be badass, hard-working forces of nature. President Barbie could have a sleepover in matching pajamas with all her girlfriends, and still wake up and rule Barbie Land with authority and grace the next day. Taylor Swift can cycle through ten sparkly bodysuits in one night and still be one of the most successful musicians of all time. Celebrating our femininity does not make us less serious, capable or powerful. 

As a blonde(ish) communications student, who is the social chair of her sorority in LA, I’m often assumed to have all sugar and no substance. I love Taylor Swift, all of my belongings are pink and if shopping were a sport I would finally consider myself an athlete. But coming out of this summer, I want to carry this new era of girlhood with me forever. I’m a leader, I’m involved in a ton of organizations, I’m constantly writing to uncover the truth and I’m a nerd (I go to freakin UCLA for Pete’s sake!!). I don’t want to have to tame down my femininity when I want to be taken seriously, and I shouldn’t have to. Even if it takes fifty more Barbie movies, as women we have to express the duality of girlhood until society gets that how we express ourselves only adds to our credibility.

Katy is a first year communications major at UCLA originally from Pennsylvania! She enjoys baking, Taylor Swift, and lifting :)