1. Putting themselves first. When Barbara Walters asked Michelle Obama if it were selfish that she openly makes herself her first priority she responded: “No, no, it’s practical…. a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we’re so busy caring for everyone else. And one of the things that I want to model for my girls is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.”
2. How little or much they’re eating, especially if it’s “unhealthy.” You can eat a big lunch without having to say “I haven’t eaten anything all day” or have some delicious ass nachos without saying “I totally deserve this, I was so good this week, I’ll start the diet again tomorrow.” More importantly, you shouldn’t have to always be interrogated with “that’s all you’re having?” or “you’re going to eat all that?!”
3. Healthy eating as a means of actual health, not weight loss, because for some reason, people tend to be skeptical that a woman could actually just want to treat her body right and not be perpetually concerned with her size.
4. Not having baby fever. You aren’t more or less of a woman– or person– if having a child isn’t for you now or ever. You shouldn’t have to back it up with the reasons you’re not maternally inclined but will maybe consider it down the road because “who really knows– maybe someday!” when you do really know that you don’t want kids but don’t want to be glared at like a heartless monster.
5. Having baby fever. Nobody should have to face a flurry of interrogative questions when they proclaim that they do indeed want to have children young, because it’s just as acceptable to feel that way as it is the alternative. If you want to travel, you’ll travel. If you want to pursue a career in addition to motherhood, pursue you shall. As long as you are aware of the implications, no further justification to other people who don’t feel the same way is needed.
6. Whether or not they’re having sex, and to what degree. There doesn’t have to be a reason that you slept with so-and-so, and you don’t have to feel obligated to give an excuse for why you’ve been celibate.
7. Enjoying what would otherwise be called guilty pleasures because they’re “girly” things. They don’t have to be “guilty” pleasures, they can just be pleasures. You can enjoy getting your nails painted and wearing a skirt and re-watching 13 Going On 30 a thousand times without floundering in stereotypes.
8. “Looking like shit today.” Whenever a woman leaves the house looking anything less than airbrushed and runs into someone they know, they tend to feel the need to apologize for it. You don’t have to apologize to someone else for not being a certain way, you have to apologize to yourself for feeling like you had to in the first place.
9. Experimenting with sexuality. It doesn’t have to be because you were “lost and confused” or just “a wild crazy girl in college.” If you made out with a girl at a party because it was the cool thing to do, fine, if it was more than that, just call it for what it was.
10. Weight, because size actually does not determine what “a real woman” is or not.
11. Amount of makeup worn on any given day. If you want to rock it au naturale, you do that, you beautiful little thing, and if you want to work it like you’re in a drag show, you can do that too. Your face. Your rules.
12. Sometimes conventionally frowned upon clothing choices. You don’t have to say you wear leggings “because they’re so comfortable” or a really short dress because you’re just “being crazy tonight.” These things require no explanation, and you shouldn’t let other people pressure you into feeling as though they do.
13. Being upset about something that warrants an emotional response. You don’t have to apologize for feeling something or acting out on it if it’s real to you. The people who judge you for being a human being, and not being ultimately demure and emotionless and in your place, are the ones who need to apologize.
14. Moving for a relationship if one is invested and ready… or just putting a relationship first if it’s a healthy and happy thing or something you want/need to work on. There’s a big difference between being dismissive and walked on and stepping up and taking part as an equal in a relationship, a role that usually requires compromising and effort.
15. Wanting to get married young.
16. Not wanting to get married young.
17. Attractiveness despite something. You don’t have to justify your so-called-imperfections with that which you like about yourself– you aren’t attractive because you have great hair despite being a little overweight. You can be attractive without fitting into social conventions of it. The beauty continuum scale was constructed to make us all feel like shit and buy a lot of products to fix that. But beautiful is as beautiful does.
18. Passing social deadlines for things. Who cares if you’re 35 and as single as you were 15 years ago? Life doesn’t start when someone or something comes along and then society says it can. You don’t have to make excuses as to why you aren’t married or with child or working a traditional 9-5. Our lives weren’t meant to be scripted the same way. When you adopt someone else’s narrative, it’s because you aren’t hearing your own clearly enough.