1. Fighting with other girls is easier, but not smarter. When little boys and girls run around and pull each other’s hair on the playground, we often separate them as quickly as possible and, worse, tell the girl that the boy is doing this “because he secretly likes her.” But there is definitely a time when little girls are just as inclined to fight with both genders, and we shouldn’t stop this as much as we do. We direct girls into fighting with other girls, when in reality, disputes are something that happen on an individual basis. There’s a reason we always hate the Other Woman, and never the cheating man, but four-year-old us would be just as angry at both of them for stealing her crayons.
2. There’s no reason not to get dirty in a princess dress. It’s so sad how we tend to separate “the feminine” and “the active” as we age. We all used to play in mud pits and sandboxes and in trees (that we promptly fell out of) while wearing our enormous, inconvenient Disney Princess dresses and tutus. There is no reason that looking hyper feminine should stop you from kicking ass, getting the job done, or even getting dirty. Feminine is not synonymous with prissy.
3. Sometimes, you have to eat dessert first. Remember when there weren’t weird emotions attached to every different kind of food, and we just kind of… ate? For some of us, that time was really, really long ago, but we (almost all) had it. And sometimes, we just need to eat a cupcake or a pile of curly fries for dinner, just as much as we sometimes need kale and black beans and chia seeds. And eating because it feels good — and stopping when we’re full, without being full of remorse — is not a privilege that should be afforded only to little girls who don’t know better.
4. Say sorry, but not all the time. There’s a big difference between learning to apologize when you’ve genuinely done something wrong, and apologizing all the time because you have been taught to preface even a normal comment in a conversation with “Sorry, but…” Little girls apologize, but they’re not sorry to be taking up space in this world. And any woman who has worked in an office setting can attest to the fact that we often apologize for things that were someone else’s fault, just because we feel that’s what we’re supposed to do.
5. Hug your parents (every time you see them). There’s never a good reason not to hug your parents, a “Love you” text message every now and then just isn’t good enough.
6. Believing in love stories is a better way to live. Maybe we’re more wise now that we’ve learned that the love stories from our favorite fairy tales aren’t real, but we certainly aren’t happier. And frankly, life is too short to not be wildly optimistic, and believe in the idea that deep, meaningful love can happen to anyone.
7. Peace with the body is the key to happiness. When I was a little girl, I used to run around topless, puffing out my chest and yelling about how I was a dinosaur. I would stomp circles naked around the kiddie pool, totally unaware that wearing clothes was not merely an option for existing in society. The idea of not loving my body — or seeing it as what it was, the thing I live in that enables me to play and have fun — was just unthinkable. And now, a day doesn’t go by where I don’t consider how my body looks from every angle, and whether or not I’m covering it enough. What I wouldn’t give to run around naked in a kiddie pool, making dinosaur noises.
8. Always recognize your strengths and accomplishments. So often, women have a hard time saying “Yes, I did that!” or “I’m actually really good at _____.” In job interviews, in negotiations, and even sometimes in relationships. But ask a little girl what she’s good at, and she’ll give you a list as long as one of her story books of all the things she knows how to do, or is working at being better at. She’s proud of herself, because she deserves to be.
9. Shorts under dresses is a must sometimes. It’s not always the most classy look, but there is no reason that summer should not be the season of convenient little bike shorts (or something) underneath your floofy dresses. It eliminates sometimes-painful thigh rubbin, enables you to do impromptu cartwheels, and makes bike riding that much easier. (Plus, you can go REALLY short on the skirt front, and not risk randoms seeing your panties.) It’s win-win!
10. Dance. Always. Everywhere. It’s corny, but there’s a reason drunk 19-year-olds everywhere get something about dancing tattooed on their wrist. Dancing is such a wonderful part of life, and the idea that we just stop doing it because we would “look weird” is so, so sad. You can join a salsa club, or you can dance in the grocery store while shopping — it’s all created equal. Just keep moving.
11. Crying is nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing wrong with a good cry. When something hurts, express it, and don’t feel like it makes you a terrible or weak person for doing so.
12. Telling people how you feel is hard, but worth it. How many of us have twisted in the winds of agony for months/years on end, instead of mustering the courage to tell someone “Hey, this is how I feel about you?” I believe that answer is “all of us.” And yet, in fourth grade, I went up to my crush directly AND ASKED THAT DUDE TO MARRY ME, and we got “married” next to a dogwood tree on our school’s playground. So, clearly something changed along the way, and it needs to change back.
13. Sleepovers fix everything. Adult sleepovers (between girlfriends) are the most soothing balm the soul could ask for. Movies, wine, Ouija boards, junk food, and staying up until four AM to talk about stupid boys and ghost stories — these are perfectly acceptable, NO, essential activities for grown women. There is no problem that a good sleepover with your closest circle of girls can’t fix.