Recently, I read an article by one of my favorite writers about having pride in being a “low maintenance” girl. I agree. If you feel that you are a “low maintenance” girl, you should be proud.
And at this point, I would like to be upfront and say, that I am not “low maintenance.” Based on how we define “low” and “high maintenance” women, I will never, in any way possible way, qualify as a “low maintenance girl.” I am “high maintenance,” and I am proud of it.
Like all good writing should, the article pushed me to think- specifically about what being high or low “maintenance” meant by our societal standards, and why these standards usually regarded “high maintenance” women with a largely negative perspective.
Have we ever noticed that men are rarely categorized as “low maintenance” or “high maintenance?” Girls are. Women are.
What is “high maintenance” or “low maintenance?” Am I washing machine? An oven or a dishwasher? A car? A condominium? Must I fall into a category that deems how much effort it takes a man to “maintain” me, or even “maintain” my happiness? What about the effort I put in to keep any man in my life happy? Am I then, “maintaining” him? When does the amount of effort that I put into him reflect on him as a person? When does the amount of effort that I put into him make him difficult to “maintain” or easy to “maintain?”
And what about all those “medium maintenance” people? Those people who are neither difficult nor easy to please? Is there a spectrum, or are we turning “maintenance” into another madonna-whore complex?
We are human beings, not appliances. Man or woman, we require nobody else to “maintain” us. Doing that is part of the job description of being an adult. It is nice to have someone go out of their way to make us happy, but we need to stop using the word “maintenance.” Putting in the effort for somebody we love- whether our significant others or ourselves- is not a chore.
So what exactly is a “high maintenance” girl? As much as I hate that phrase, let me humor the way society likes to use it versus the way it should be used. I’m not here to define you, girlfriend, but if you qualify as “high maintenance,” you could or could not be one of these many things:
Maybe you’re the girl who takes two to three hours to get ready to go to an event. This is regardless of whether you’re trying to impress anyone, or you’re trying to impress yourself. You’re worth the time and effort, so why not show yourself that? Maybe you’re the girl that spends half an hour perfecting her hair because you want it to look that good. You deserve it to look that good. Maybe you’re the girl that can spend her money on high-end jewelry, makeup, clothes, and accessories, because you earned that money, and it’s your right to use it in whatever way that makes you happy. Maybe you’re the girl who wouldn’t mind the grand gestures, who sees through the bullshit, and who scraps the shallow. Maybe you’re also the girl who wouldn’t mind the simple gestures, as long as they’re heartfelt.
Maybe you’re the girl who feels better getting dolled up when going to the diner the morning of a hangover, because, well, you’re feeling pretty shitty as it is, so why not take the first step to fix that? Maybe you’re the girl who loves her six inch heels and who has taught herself how to be comfortable in them. Maybe you’re the girl who wouldn’t be caught dead in crocs.
Maybe you’re the girl who carries a tide pen around with you to fix those little stains that happen to everyone, because you take pride in your clothing and your appearance. Maybe you’re the girl who believes that your fashion choices are an expression of you, and everybody has the right to any of the choices that they please. Maybe you’re the girl with the perfect manicure because looking at it brings you joy. Maybe you’re the girl who finds happiness in molecular gastronomy, or your designer bag. You may find joy in your professional grind, or happiness when shopping. You may find euphoria in reaching the pinnacle of success, or comfort in your friends and family. And maybe you find that same kind of happiness in nature, or maybe you can’t stand putting your hands in the dirt. Basically, my tough to “maintain” friend, you’re doing what it takes to “maintain” yourself. Why should that be classified as “higher” or “lower” than anyone else? Being stamped as “high maintenance” does not mean you are any better or any worse than anybody else. You are you, no stamps and no labels.
And in a relationship, you “high maintenance” diva, you may be the girl who asks for what she needs, and tries to give what’s needed in return. Standing up for yourself shouldn’t be critiqued. Knowing what you want shouldn’t be criticized. Having the capability to put up an assertive and equal fight for what you believe in shouldn’t be discarded. What man would get in trouble for those three things?
Being “high maintenance” needs to stop being given the negative connotation that it’s usually given. “High maintenance” is not synonymous for “demanding,” “hard to please,” “self-absorbed,” “materialistic,” “radical,” “too much to handle,” or any of the other things that we love to label the women who don’t fit in with society’s expectations of what women should want and what they can dare to ask for.
The two terms come about because a “high maintenance” girl is supposed to be tougher to date and more dramatic to be with than a “low maintenance” girl. Why isn’t the distinction made with men? Why can they choose within a spectrum of mindsets in regards to what they need out of a relationship, while we are stuck with a dichotomy? Stop the madness.
Realize that just because one person seems to need less than someone else does not mean that they actually do need less. Or that it will be easier to give them that “less.” If one girl doesn’t seem to need as much as another, that doesn’t make her “easier,” “simpler,” “better” or “lesser.” If one girl seems to need more than another, it doesn’t make her “tougher,” “more complicated,” or any more or less “worth it.” They’re both human beings. They’re both going to need things; and they’re both going to need those things just as passionately and intensely. The things that they need are different, not “high” or “low.” The things that they need are different, not “simple” or “complicated.” Don’t insult either of them by calling them these things. Stop, society, just stop.
Stop degrading the girl who won’t live a small life. Stop blaming the girl who won’t live a simple life. Stop fearing the girl who decides to be her own definition of small and big, and simple or complicated. Stop being threatened by the girl who understands that there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that. Stop berating the girl who knows what she wants and gets what she wants. Stop running from the girl who will raise her standards with no fucks left if things don’t work out the way she wants them to. Perhaps this is personal, but she is no more and no less than the other human beings who find joy in the simple and the easy.
And in the converse, don’t you dare patronize someone for the simplicity of their desires. Don’t undermine this simple girl as somehow being less of a threat to your equanimity, or less driven in her success. Don’t underestimate how capable, dangerous, and discerning she too can be. Don’t make the error of imagining that she won’t see exactly what you are and aren’t willing to give at some point in time. Stop seeing the “low maintenance” girl as needing less from you when she needs exactly the same amount of validation that you or any other human being needs. Wake up, society. Grow up.
The world is every human being’s oyster, whether we choose to find comfort in its crevices, freedom in running wild through its expanse, or success in gravitating towards the precious pearl in its center. There’s no one way to live life, so if you want it to be infinitesimal or enormous, then go make it so while “maintaining” yourself in any way that you want to.