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

Females are often identified as not enough: skinny, smart, kind, and pretty. We are also known to be too much of something: fake, clingy, sensitive, emotional, or naive. No matter how hard we try to be our most authentic selves, we get criticized by others who are oftentimes the same gender as us. Being a woman is hard. There are many double standards, some standard that favors one party over the other, on top of societal standards. With double standards, I never know how I should look or what personality traits I should have compared to what I actually want. Below are some examples of what I mean:

Skinny vs Fat

If a girl is slim or skinny, she would be looked at as “too skinny, borderline anorexic, doesn’t eat enough, etc.” However, if a girl gains weight, she is looked at as “heavy, fat, overweight, or eats too much.” These societal standards are not an accurate representation of who you are. I have had the constant conflict of, “Am I too heavy? Am I too skinny? What do others think?” Today, the media shows a bunch of curvy women, but back in the 2000s, skinny was the new trend. In the end, I learned that you should love your body. Everybody’s shape is equal and beautiful. 

Wearing Makeup vs No Makeup

As a child, I never understood makeup until I started wearing it. I began to learn that makeup is a way to express yourself and boosts your self confidence. I like wearing makeup now for fun; however, the common misconception about makeup is that you wear it to impress people. I got asked by my friend’s mom once, “Why are you wearing makeup, you’re not going anywhere.” I responded with, “Because I had free time, so I decided to do it for myself.” There is a standard that if you wear makeup, you’re trying to look good for other people, which is not always true. If you do not wear makeup, people say, “Look better. You look like a slob and not put together.” 

Having Sex vs Being a Virgin

Another double standard for women is whether or not you are a virgin. Women who are sexually active are viewed by the public as “whores” or are “sleeping around.” However, if a female is a virgin, she is called a “prude.” Whereas, if a man loses his virginity, he is seen as an adult or masculine. 

Being Too Scandalous vs Covering Up

If you are like me, and you like to wear tighter fitting clothes or crop tops, you either get a lot of weird looks from strangers, or have been told to “not wear” an article of clothing by someone. If you show too much skin, then you look like you want attention, validation, or are labeled as “slutty” by others. However, if you are covering up too much, people think you are being conserved or extremely modest. Society should normalize that what a woman wears does not mean she is “asking for it,” but rather that she is expressing herself through her clothes. The color, the style, the cut, and the pattern all display something about a female.

If You Shave vs If You Do Not

Everyone has their own preference as to whether or not they want body hair. Society’s standards display models with a fully shaven body. If someone shaves, the public views them as “clean.” Whereas, those who embrace body hair are labeled as “lazy, gross, or not acting like a girl.” Society should be opened to both ends of the spectrum. It is a woman’s choice if she likes body hair and wants to embrace her natural self. 

Bossy vs Quiet in Workspace

A common double standard in the workplace is when women try to show leadership. If a woman speaks too much, gives directions, or asks a co-worker to do something, she is commonly labeled as “bossy, know it all, opinionated, or vocal.” If a woman is quiet in a meeting, she does not get recognized, acknowledged, or asked because she appears shy. Whereas, males who are leaders are less likely to be labeled negatively if they speak up, or if they speak up.

Being Emotional vs Being Cold

Women are known to be emotional, but everyone has their own way of handling situations. However, no reaction is ever “good enough” for society when it comes to your mood. If a woman is moody, a man will ask the question: “Are you on your period?” This question usually implies that the woman is being emotional and the man is asking why they are acting the way they are. But, if a woman is not showing any emotions, she is known to be “cold.” Either way, being yourself and acting how you want is not within society’s standards. You have to act normal. But what even is normal?

It’s hard to fit into society’s standards. There are so many different ways to act and many physical appearances to please. There is no one way to appeal to everyone or society, so why not act however you want?

Sydney Fiorentino is a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering. She has a strong interest in journalism. She likes to sing, walk, and listen to music.
Katie Muschalik is a film student at the University of Southern California. Everything she ever needed to know she learned from a Judy Blume book.