Breaking Down The ‘Good Girl’ Stereotype

image - Flickr / Logan Campbell
image – Flickr / Logan Campbell

The cat’s out of the bag.

I’m a “good girl” by society’s standards. I don’t drink, do drugs, have sex, swear, or wear crop tops with high-waisted shorts. For a culture that preaches tolerance and hates being “judged,” I’ve noticed that I to have to defend my life choices quite a lot.

The “good girl” label comes with a lot of (wrong) preconceived notions about my character, intelligence, and interests. Most people assume that I’m ignorant or painfully awkward because I choose not to partake in nights that I won’t remember the next morning. Others assume that I think I’m better than everyone else because I wear a purity ring, representing my commitment to chastity until marriage.

Media doesn’t exactly help my case. Characters that have high morals are often shown as cocky, self-entitled, and/or stupid. Just look at Marianne from “Easy A” or Grace from “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” Even the celebrities themselves are scrutinized for their personal beliefs, like the Jonas Brothers in regards to the purity rings issue. And when people decide to abandon these principles, they are often applauded for “being themselves” because everybody loves a “good girl gone bad” story like that of Miley Cyrus.

After trying to explain why I refuse to use the F bomb for what seems like the millionth time, I’ve decided to list a few “confessions” of my life as a “good girl.”

I don’t need your pity. If I had a dollar for the number of times someone gave me a pouty face and an “Oh…” in response to my lifestyle choices, I could probably pay off my student loans or buy a car. To be honest, I don’t understand why anyone feels bad for me regarding the path I’ve chosen to take. Maybe I’m not having “fun” by the standards of others, but I thoroughly enjoy my life. There’s nothing to be sorry for.

I’m not a child. Just because I make lifestyle choices that are not in conjunction with others’ doesn’t justify treating me like a child. On multiple occasions, I have been asked to swear—and sometimes have been offered money to do so. Other times, I’ll be told that “someday” I’ll want to make the choices that they’re making or at least understand them. What is most fascinating to me is that apparently now the rite of passage to adulthood requires at least one hookup, one hangover, and the mouth of a sailor. Until that point is reached, one will always be thought of as a child. And that is just as much terrifying as it is ridiculous.

I don’t need you to agree with my decisions. The differences between respectingagreeing, and understanding need to be recognized. Respect acknowledges the credibility behind an idea whether or not it is believed by someone. Agreement is the full support of an idea on behalf of an individual. Understanding requires a basic knowledge of an idea. I’m not asking anyone to agree with the way I live my life, but I am expecting respect and understanding–especially considering I give the same courtesy to you.

I don’t look down on you. As a Christian, I know that a lot of people have said terrible things in the name of Jesus. (I’ve discussed how I think about this in a former post) And just for that, I would like to take a moment to apologize on behalf of those people for anything cruel and unjust that was said to you. At this point, it may be best to get off your high horse and understand that just because I don’t agree with the way you live your life doesn’t mean that I think I’m any better. I’ve never understood why my unwillingness to drink, smoke, or sleep around automatically makes me “holier-than-thou.” In such a culture of moral relativity as this, I would expect that disagreeing over those issues would be handled in a more mature fashion.

I’m more than just “nice” or “good.” Some of the most hurtful things I’ve ever been told is that I’m actually funny or actually interesting. Why is it so surprising that I can make someone laugh or have intelligent thoughts on politics, law, or society? Being “nice” or “good” doesn’t cancel out all my other characteristics. Putting me into the “good girl” box limits what I’m able to offer the world. Contrary to what some may think, being a “good” or “nice” girl does not inhibit the confidence in myself or ambition to reach my goals.

With all this said, I don’t mind discussing differences of opinion on lifestyle choices. In fact, I encourage the healthy understanding of why people believe and act the way they do. What I do mind are the discouraging, subhuman, ignorant remarks that are so often made.

All I ask is that people stop badgering me and other “good girls” for our opinions and beliefs. I’m not asking for this because it’s “right” or “moral” but rather because we’re human…just like you. TC mark

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