What makes you who you are? (Image credit: Chrishna)

What does it mean to you to be a girl? Is it the same to be a girl and be ‘girly’? What does being ‚Äògirly‚Äô even mean? What does it mean to be feminine?

Tori Cann works with girls in her home town of Norwich, providing workshops and events to bring them together and offer them a space to explore what being a girl means to them, and what issues they sometimes face in being a girl.

In talking to girls, Tori has found that a lot of girls are rejecting what they view as ‘girly’. Rom coms, chick flicks, bubble gum TV shows, pop bands are all seen as something to be slightly ashamed of, that other more ‘girly’ girls enjoy. That it can’t be taken too seriously. But why are girls rejecting what is seen by society as traditionally feminine? Are they trying to behave like boys so they avoid the issues of being a girl in a society that is dominated by men, men who dominate politics, business and money? Or are these products that are created with girls in mind, but not really what girls want after all?

While there are some physical and hormonal things that set boys and girls apart, many of our expectations of what a girl should do or what girls should like have been created through histories, cultures and religions. Female bodybuilders, boxers, runners have shown that women have powerful bodies. Women bankers and scientists demonstrate that girls are as good at maths and science as boys. So why do we associate being feminine with being quiet and dainty, gentle and sweet, enjoying love stories and arty subjects? Why are muscular, strong bodies and mathematical minds seen as masculine?

These are big questions to answer but the answers lie in the histories of expectations of women and girls within our cultures, rather than in the bodies and minds of girls. In stories and nursery rhymes, our earliest books, we are told that girls are princesses to be rescued, made of sugar and spice, and all things nice, who look after people and obey the rules. What girls really need is a choice: do they want to be the princess or the person doing the rescuing? A queen or a warrior? Or both? Like any good book or film, you are only bound by one thing: your imagination.

So write your own story about what it means to be a girl and what makes you who you are. Maybe you’re a warrior who likes chick flicks, or a princess who likes rock music. There is no one, right way to be a girl, but rather lots of different paths to explore and things to like and dislike. Make it your own.

Be inspired by…
Female boxers in Pakistan
Our STEAM Girls exhibition
Moe Tucker, named one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s greatest drummers of all time
Nadia Fink’s¬†anti-princess books

For still more inspirational women, have a look at our Girls of WWI Heroines Quilt. Or check out our podcasts on Podbean or iTunes.  And if you like what you hear, consider becoming a patron to help support future production of GirlSpeak.


-Sarah Raine
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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