I am at a transfer seminar held by my honors program at the community college I have finished my last two years of high school at. The counselors ask us to go around the group and introduce ourselves with what we want to study in the future.
Biochemistry, psychology, engineering, English…
“I’m going to major in Journalism with a minor in Women’s Studies!”
My gaze, once flitting over the quotes on all of the inspirational posters around the room, reels to lock on the source of this sentence. This girl, who has single-handedly stolen my answer.
Her hair was in a ponytail, the kind that is teased and then the rubber-band is covered serenely by a piece of your hair as if to cover some indiscretion. She is dressed head to toe in Nordstrom. How do I know this you ask? Because in my town there are only two stores who sell the type of clothes she was wearing and it was definitely not Banana Republic.
Black leggings, black equestrian style leather boots, a perfectly fitted blazer, and the clincher, a shockingly white peplum shirt. I think peplum shirts are the inside joke of the fashion industry because they look almost inevitably ghastly on everyone who buys into the trend. They seem to be worn best when it is acknowledged that they obscure any hour-glass shape, not enhance it. Except her of course, she has magically escaped the peplum fate. Her make-up is undoubtedly expensive and quite demure on her tiny little head, which is attached to a 5 foot 5 inch body that is probably supported by size 6 feet.
Now, you are probably thinking I am completely mental to be taking such notice of this girl, which is probably the case, but I will explain my indignation anyway.
This sort of girl is everything that rubs me the wrong way because she is everything that I am not. My mommy does not buy any of my clothes for me anymore, let alone the fitted blazers I salivate over at Nordstrom, and eventually plod away from. I rarely have time to manicure my nails and I wouldn’t spend it on that if I did. I would NEVER wear leggings as pants. My appearance is fairly far from demure. I bet she listens to Adele and the Lana del Rey when she’s feeling deep. My voice could be described as low, dry perhaps while she rambled about her aspirations in a high-pitched girly, entitled tone that gave off yuppy like smoke signals.
When asked what sort of Women’s organizations she volunteered for, she said she hadn’t done any volunteering for women specifically, but did plenty of work around her church.
So why does she bother me so much? (Or the idea of her, as it’s obvious I’m just judging her based on what I’ve seen in my lifetime. Read: I don’t actually know her.)
Because she is everything I am not, everything I have rejected as superficial and soulless and commercial, and yet I have this terrible vision when I heard her proclaim my dreams as her own.
She’s going to be more successful than me.
The perfect clothes, stylish but certainly predictable, the upper middle-class mentality, the brisk entitlement, the pretty little face and cute little body.
It’s exactly what society wants in it’s women. She won’t make anyone uncomfortable. She has the naive will of someone who has always gotten what she wants.
I on the other hand, enjoy making people uncomfortable. I’m confrontational. I’m almost six feet tall and often much taller than that in heels. I feel like I am suffocating when I’m placed in large groups of people like her, and expected to talk to them. I feel better in any fringe group, no matter how polarized from myself.
And something inside me hates her for not being an individual, for not struggling with the same questions I do about what it means to be a woman. For taking no issue with exploiting the benefits of adhering to structure at the cost of becoming a slave to it.
I state again, I don’t know her. She may not be like this at all. But when I see women who present themselves like her, I suddenly feel panic spiking erratically as I am faced with the physical representation of what could very well beat me to my dreams.