Four Schools Of Womanhood
by Danielle Anderson
I was the toughest five-year-old in my kindergarten class. No one else could have survived as many scrapes, falls, bumps, bruises, and knots as I did as a child. I grew up with the mentality that the harder you play, the more respect you earn. I was a tomboy. Perhaps all little girls are at some point in their lives. But I was a tomboy for sixteen years. With few children around my age to play with at home, I strove for the acceptance of the only playmate I knew--my brother Shaun. When Shaun practiced football with Dad, I was right there by his side. He was the four back and I was the two. He was the punter; I was the receiver. I knew button-hook passes, pitch backs, and hand-offs. By age six, I was ready to join my older sibling in the Little League ranks. However, one thing stood in my way. Mom. I had convinced Dad I could play football. After all, I had learned all my moves from him and Shaun. I had no doubt in my mind that I could bust a move on the football field. Mom, on the other hand, was a different story. "You're a little GIRL," she declared. "And little girls DO NOT play football. They cheerlead." Every year it was the same argument and the same loss for me. I could not convince Mom to let me play with the boys. I was stuck on the sidelines in my pleated skirt and saddle shoes, waving pompons around, screaming cheers.
Cheerleading was not entirely awful. It did improve my spelling skills. To this day I still break out into a cheer to spell "spirit" correctly. "We've got spirit. Yes, we've got spirit. S-P-I-R-I-T. Spirit. Woo hoo!" Cheerleading did improve my rhythm and dance skills. Every time I hear "Chantilly Lace," I think of my final Little League cheerleading competition when we had to dance around pulling fake money out of out lace garter belts. I had no idea what a garter belt actually was until I was fourteen.
The Definition of Middle School
Middle school meant the dawning of an entirely different perspective for me. Boys were no longer playmates, but they were, well, boys. I was in seventh grade when my friends began to change. That's when my excitement about gym class dwindled. Nobody wanted to play. Our gym class was combined with the boys' class. My peers were too busy fussing over their hair and makeup to even consider a game of kickball. The only sweating they did was over a broken nail. I wanted to play. Who cared if I sweated? I had deodorant in my gym bag.
Middle school meant dances. Or, in actuality, music playing in the cafeteria while students stood around talking to their friends and not dancing. "Will you ask Charlie to dance with me?" Amanda pleaded. "Sure," I replied, but secretly thought, "Why don't you ask him yourself? The worst thing he can say is no." I had yet to understand the dire consequences of someone replying with a no. I asked Charlie. He screamed an emphatic no and took off speed walking in the other direction. "Boys are so retarded," I told my friend, along with the bad news. She sat in the corner the rest of the dance and talked to no one.
Middle school meant changes--physical changes. Unwelcome physical changes. I had no desire for a chest or hips. And I definitely was not a polite hostess to my monthly visitor. I had more important things to worry about at twelve. There was school, basketball, and my friends. Friends who considered me blessed. "You're so lucky," Ashley told me one day. "Are you crazy?" I asked. "I don't want this. Not now." Until then, the only difference between me and the boys was my long hair. Now I felt strange around my male friends. Even around my brother. It was the first time I truly realized I was different. I was a girl.
High School Style
Style is something you develop in high school. My style--a mix of baggy jeans and t-shirts and athletic gear. I thought those types of clothes could hide me better. I had gained weight and had little desire to show off my plumpness. Baggy clothes engulfed me like the bandages of a mummy. I could step out of the world of the living and into my shadow world, waiting for the moment to awaken. I never tucked shirts in. Long t-shirts hung like Christmas tree skirts beneath my sweatshirts. My mother termed my style as "slouchy," "awful," "grungy," and "tacky." Countless mornings I'd hear "You aren't wearing THAT to school are you?" My response, "Yeah. What 's wrong with it?" Her answer, "It's too slouchy."
Makeup was a magician's trick to me. I was a simple novice; eyeliner and foundation were for professionals. Start from the inner corner of your eyelid and move toward the outside corner. Keep close to your eyelash line. Keep it straight. The grand paradox of fast and easy makeup. How much concealer do I have to apply to cover that zit?
My hair was fixed one of two ways: half of my hair up in a
barrette with the rest down or pulled up into a ponytail.
"Why don't you wear your hair this way?" Mom would question
and offer some suggestion. My hair never looked like the
The Existentialism of College
College is the existential period. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? WHO AM I? The week is a journey into a field of possibilities. Then the weekend arrives and you're catapulted back to the beginning, attempting once more to find your true identity.
People change in college. Perhaps they realize it's time to step onto that long awaited road called adulthood. I've been on this road since I was fifteen. Juggling school and a job makes you grow up quickly. Or maybe people change because for the first time in their lives they are acting under their own standards.
I woke up one morning and decided I didn't like the way I was. So I changed. Changed my clothes. Changed my hair. Changed my makeup. Changed my attitude. Changed my perspective. If I work hard enough, I can achieve. Find my true self. I am not my clothes. I am not my major. I am not a doll. I am a woman, a floating leaf waiting to land. Agile, patient, looking for my ground.
Bio: Danielle Anderson lives in Tazewell, VA (a small town in the southwestern part of the state). She is 19 years old and attends Bluefield College where she studies English Education.
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