“When a girl is wearing shorts, everything about her changes, even the way she sits changes!”

Here’s a video I intend to watch with Brat Three this afternoon. Please do watch.

What does it mean to do something “like a girl”?

Video shared by Vidya Vasudevan. 

Ages ago a TV show had this celebrity advising Ms India aspirants not to wear shorts, because, she said something like,

“When a girl is wearing shorts, everything about her changes, even the way she sits changes! She stops being graceful. When a girl wears shorts, she stops behaving like a girl. When a girl wears a skirt, she is graceful. She sits like a girl, she moves like a girl.”

So, what exactly is sitting or moving like a girl?

I think it might mean moving or sitting,

1. In ways that are said to be found attractive (mainly by men, but also by others who are judging).

2. In ways that ensure that nobody’s egos are hurt – so, non threatening, submissive, timid, shy, in need of help, non assertive, vulnerable, physically weak, ‘modest’ etc.

And in India, ways that are always ‘respectful’.

3. I think being ‘#likeagirl’ also includes slower movements and some amount of incompetence or clumsiness with some ‘manly tasks’. ‘Manly tasks’ like running, throwing a ball, laughing aloud, calling out to someone.

4. And somehow being like a girl is also used as an insult, even for girls.

Related Posts:

How do you celebrate yourself?
That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.
“Here’s what I would tell my future/potential daughter, if I ever have one.”
Sending a girl a text that says “good morning beautiful” can change her attitude for the whole day.
What makes a woman look beautiful?
My Sins Against Gender Stereotypes.
You don’t owe prettiness to anyone.
Give A Girl A Ball…

46 thoughts on ““When a girl is wearing shorts, everything about her changes, even the way she sits changes!”

  1. It never ceases to amaze me how many people care so deeply about what another person is doing/wearing. If that celebrity doesn’t want to wear shorts…let them not wear shorts! Who is forcing anyone to wear shorts? But no…that’s not enough. They want to force other people to not wear them!

    Indians need to commit the four letters “MYOB” to heart. Mind Your Own (Damn) Business.

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      • Why can’t we admit that the need to wear revealing/conservative (depending on the situation, demographics and culture of the surroundings) stems from the inherent desire of women to get appreciation/approval from other men(sometimes other women too). This is part of the mating mechanism. Once we admit that, it would be easy to let people do it.

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        • Does this mean that wearing traditional and not-so-revealing clothing means the person does not want to seek approval?

          I think ghunghaat – one foot long ghunghat, dupatta, bichiya etc is often worn to seek approval, often by those who do not have the choice of refusing to wear one – which is why women who are able to choose what they wear as seen as empowered.

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        • I have said the same thing about conservative clothing too. So do we agree that it’s all about seeking approval? It’s a means to attract attention, right?

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        • I know lots of women who wear attractive stuff just to feel good about themselves. My wife is one of them. She’ll make sure she dresses up regardless of whether or not there’s someone to appreciate her.

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        • Since you are saying your wife dresses up to feel good about herself when she is alone, nobody is going to say anything (positive or negative) about her choice as there wouldn’t be anyone around. That’s a non-issue, isn’t it?

          You also said “I know lots of women who wear attractive stuff” – doesn’t this imply that it’s all about drawing attraction? I would think attractive is something that draws attraction. Do we agree on that?

          Revealing attire for women is considered to be attractive as it dresses them up in a way which draws the attention of the males to them. It leverages the biological attributes of males to be drawn to female body parts (legs, cleavages etc….). I am not saying that it’s wrong or right. All I am saying is that we should recognize why is it done and for what. We may choose to live in denial or acknowledge the facts as they are. You wouldn’t say that wearing a dress that exposes legs in a cold climate is about feeling good, would you? It’s a mating mechanism so let’s call it what it is.

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        • “Revealing attire for women is considered to be attractive as it dresses them up in a way which draws the attention of the males to them.”

          Actually ‘the female body parts’ that are always ‘revealed’ (and hence are not sexualised) tend to stop drawing ‘the attention of the males’ who don’t see them as sexual. In some parts of the world, where women are always covered even a glimpse of women’s hair, eyes, ankles, back or belly (as exposed in a sari), wrists, legs etc – may be seen as ‘mating mechanism’. It’s for nobody but for the wearer to know why they wear what they wear, whether they want to feel good, and what makes them feel good.

          So why do we wear clothes again?
          https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/so-why-do-we-wear-clothes-again/

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        • “According to a research, women who revealed around 40 per cent of their skin attracted twice as many men as those who covered up.” ?? This comment?

          According to another research 98.76% misogynists love to talk about women’s skin and 99.456123333% misogynists tend to believe that women always have men in mind/subconscious when they are deciding what percentage of their skin to cover. Read about some more researches about misogynists and Patriarchy’s obsession with the percentage of skin women cover –

          13 things Indian Misogynists believe about men’s mothers and sisters.
          https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/13-things-indian-misogynists-believe-about-mens-mothers-and-sisters/

          Evolution has been discussed in this post:

          1.
          https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/men-are-hard-wired-to-respond-to-visual-cues-of-female-child-bearing-health/
          Men are hard-wired to respond to visual cues of female child-bearing health?

          Another post,

          https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/society-benefits-immensely-from-childbearing-childrearing-and-caregiving-work-that-currently-goes-unpaid/
          Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

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        • Really? So you would take a sentence out of my comment, ignore the rest of the paragraph and interpret that as misogyny! I thought you practice what you have said at the top of your blog. I wasn’t aware that you censor comments and choose not to publish them too.

          “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Because Freedom of Expression does not mean Freedom to Say What Everybody Else Wants to Hear.”

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  2. “A girl’s confidence plummets during puberty.”
    Isn’t that the truth.
    Childhood is now officially over & ‘body shame’ starts.
    As if puberty wasn’t enough to deal with.
    Growing up in a WASP-y middle class family in California I was required to attend ‘etiquette’ classes during puberty. Us girls learned not to ‘flop’ as we sat down, keep knees together at all times (no matter what the outfit was – skirt, shorts, pants whatever) , walking ‘toe first’ ‘heel 2nd’, & a ‘lady’ only crosses her legs at the ankles. Being somewhat of a tomboy I HATED this.
    I don’t really see my pubertal & teen Indian nieces subjected to this.
    I do cringe when I hear my Indian & WASP nieces & nephews berate each other using terms like ‘you are SUCH a little girl’ meaning wimpy or cowardly.

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  3. That video was touching.

    When they say run like a girl, from what I perceive, it would mean, not running, running slowly, running gently so that your breasts don’t bounce too much which will provoke people, holding onto your dupatta so that it does not fly off etc.

    The most common one I have heard is crying like a girl. Being too emotional like a girl.

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        • I was only talking about using sports bra when you go for runs/jogging. I have barely ever bothered about my breasts bouncing when I was trying to catch public buses. Most of the time the buses would stop away from the bus stop and it’s a race to just get in.

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        • Yes, but many girls I know will not run for the same reason. And when you run, there are lame guys passing comments on your running and everyone looks at you like you are an alien!

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    • My son cries like a girl …or like a boy…everyone cries…or only girls cry…ah..thats how poor boys are not allowed to cry….and show their natural emotions…hence they dont know how to handle emotions…Am I gender typecasting behaviours….Ah this is what happens when we say like a girl…and expect some stupid things from a normal girl…

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  4. ” You are being like a girl” is used as a double aged sword. When ‘they’ want to insult or when they show appreciation ,as in encouraging desirable behavior by positive stroking. In both the cases motive is to not let girls be but, manipulating/coaxing/training them for a behaviour which ‘they’ or generally society finds pleasing or acceptable.
    Awesome video. I am sending links to many. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I have become particularly sensitive to how parents talk to their daughters. I overheard on a recent outing a friend shouting out to the girls to come out of the sun! On another occasion, I heard her yelling at her daughter to “sit properly”. It’s painful when you find these attitudes reflected in people all around you!

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    • How is “come out of the sun” and “sit properly” something specifically told to girls? I’ve been told to do that millions of times by my parents, and I’m a guy. I think.

      Did they tell only the girls to come out of the sun? Or only the girls to sit properly? And even then was the “sit properly” a “sit like a lady” thing or a “don’t slouch” thing?

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      • Yes they only said that to the girls. Tum log kale ho jaaoge. My son who also nearby was not addressed at all. And yes the sitting properly was about not showing her panties as she was wearing a skirt. These are both common seemingly innocent but often gender specific statements in Indian families

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    • I too have heard little girls being told not to play out in the sun.Infact I witnessed an 8 year old tell her classmates to not play in the sun.The reason being fear of tan.I see mums in my daughters school use an umbrella to walk from the parking lot till the school entrance.A toddlers mum was concerned that the exposure to sun isnt good.When I pointed out that the human body needs sun exposure to make D vitamin, she quickly changed the subject!!!

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  6. Indra Nooyi doesn’t sit there passing foul generalizations about society based on daily crime news:

    New York: In a discussion that has gone viral on the Web, PepsiCo’s India-born CEO Indra Nooyi, counted among the world’s most powerful women, has acknowledged that it is difficult to maintain a work-life balance.

    “I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all,” 58-year-old Ms Nooyi told David Bradley, owner of the Atlantic Media Company, at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado this week. (Read story here)

    Ms Nooyi said she has died “with guilt” several times as she tried to bring up her two daughters with her husband of 34 years.

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    • Did you also read the bit about where her husband was never sent out to get the milk? She wouldn’t be dying of guilt if hubby had cooperated.

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      • Frankly, if I were in Indra Nooyi’s shoes, I would have refused to go out and get the milk (no one ever died because they went without milk for one day), and I would have told my mother to go soak her head. I suspect that, like a lot of middle-class Indian mothers of her generation, Nooyi’s mother encouraged her to reach for educational and professional success, while simultaneously instilling her with domestic ideals straight out of the 19th century. If Nooyi feels guilty, it’s probably in part because she’s been encouraged to adhere to standards that are so impossibly high that no human being can match them.

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  7. Hi IHM,

    ‘Like a girl’ has always sounded like an insult to me. I have my reasons. Being one of the two girls that my parents have, I have encountered its variations, and encountered them a lot. First of all, since my parents had no boys, and they raised us well, relatives with sons would often cast an envious glance at us, as they would be saying ‘ look at them, being raised like boys!’..’wearing pants, speaking in english…. you are really raising them as if they are your sons.’
    My mom did not allow us to grow long hair, since she thought short hair took less care and you could be ready for school in jiffy. People often mocked that too. I was eve-teased in college for my short hair. I never wanted to get my nose pierced as I do not think I would like it… thankfully, the issue died down after a small discussion and till date I am without a pierced nose.

    Personal attacks aside, I wonder why ‘like a boy’ is cool and ‘like a girl’ is not! Whenever someone cries, often it is attributed as ‘crying like a girl’. I swear I have seen boys cry. Much as I am annoyed by my little son crying, I would never shut him up using this phrase as a blackmail of sorts.

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  8. men don’t understand why i get offended when they say ” wow! You are a good driver! You park as good as a man”.

    People don’t seem to realize that driving, throwing a ball, running etc are not gender specific.
    The reason a lot of girls throw badly is cos they were never really taught to throw well in the first place, cos they were busy learning how to sew and cook and other things women are meant to be doing.
    It’s social conditioning that’s at fault here, not gender.

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    • So if i get the compliment “you can cook better than many girls” should i be offended??

      No activity is gender specific. Driving has nothing to do with gender. But man are better drivers like women are better cook… This is simply a matter of practice and time spend doing that activity. I don’t find anything offending in that statement and ya i am a guy.

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      • No, it is not true to say men are better drivers or women are better cooks. It is not even to do with practice, cos some people are just better drivers or have a knack for cooking that others don’t. I know of women who are not good cooks, and simple hate to cook, and I know of men who don’t drive at all and their wives are the one with the DL in the family. This does not make the woman any less female or the man any less of a man.

        It is not right to generalize and say that men are better drivers just cos more of them have access to cars.

        And of course you are a guy! no surprise there.

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        • Its not right to generalize; so you want to put a disclaimer after every sentence? This is how the language is used in day to day talk. It means on an average not everyone to everyone.

          And when did i say it makes man less a man or women less a women??

          And ya i am a guy and whats the point again??

          For the point i have cooked far far more times than i have driven. I never heard anyone put me down cause i cook inspite of being a guy

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  9. There is this thing I could not understand.

    Why do girls feel weak during puberty? Even girls themselves do this to each other.

    Trust me, guys have no idea whatsoever about it ( at least in India) when it is happening. They just keep making stories because no body talk about it and explain it.

    But why girls do it?

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  10. Iv been thinking about this type of thing lately as my niece is 2 and a half now and carving out an identity for herself .. I have noted quite a few times how she gets chided for copying her boy cousins mannerisms or actions (which are usually encouraged) even by my mother who I always considered to be quite forward thinking!

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  11. Thanks for the video IHM, I would definitely want my daughter to see this video. She is at an age where she finds certain actions and gestures as girly and tries to do them rather than being herself.

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  12. Oh IHM, you touched a raw nerve there. I am one of the girls whose confidence levels took a dive after puberty. I remember my early teens as the most harrowing years of my life. Besides suddenly being subjected to ‘eve-teasing’, I got throughly confused by relatives just not letting up on how to sit, how to walk, whom to talk …and so on and so forth. And believe it or not … one of these people actually said these words when I had my first period … “Ab kuchh ulta seedha mat kar dena nahin to pet me bachha aa jaega”

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  13. You know we need more DAD’s to stand up for their daughters .. and I dont mean it in the sexist way ( so hey you.. before thumbs down READ).. the reason i say is we all know how women are treated by MEN.. so if Dad’s stand up for their daughters then hopefully a LOT of male Population will be Standing with the FEMALE.

    I remember my dad, he use to be so protective of my sis and loved her to bits and Oh my god if he heard anything he went ballistic, I was always under the thumb of sorts, this rule that rule , also remeber one day my Sis came home crying , there were some guys who had followed her all the way from college .. I came home and for first time I had not even entered my house , my dad was standing at the gate and he says “Tomorrow you make sure , She comes home with a smile”..

    me being me did not need a second hint the next day the guys who had followed her were in hospital .. but that is a different story WHAT I want to say is IF Dad’s ALL of them who have daughters STAND TALL.. (I am sure they all do , but step down because of pressure of society etc etc) .. if they all stand up then I am sure a lot of problems will get sorted ..

    I hope i am able to explain what I am trying ot say ..

    Like

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