X-Chromosome Day (aka: Cool Things About Being a Woman)

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Apparently, today is International Women’ Day. Which used to be a day to celebrate being a working woman, but I guess the stay-at-home moms and desperate housewives had hurt feelings, and so someone decided to encompass them, too. So now, this is a day to celebrate being a woman, or 51% of the world’s population.

I also heard that today is a political day, in which women everywhere have organized a strike. That’s right — a Day Without Women, in which everyone with two X chromosomes (and vacation leave) is encouraged to stay home from work or school, so that the world may see that we women are much more valuable than just housekeepers, cooks, and sex objects. Sort of a “How do you like me now?” to men everywhere. Even Lady Liberty herself went MIA last night.

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Sadly, I never heard a thing about the strike. Just as I never heard a thing about the enormous women’s demonstration that happened in January until the protest was already taking place. You miss a lot of information, living in a cave. But anyway, I am wearing a red dress (okay fine, a cranberry-colored dress), so I guess that little coincidence can be my contribution to this moment of solidarity.

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My other contribution will be a small moment to reflect on some of the cool things about being a woman. No offense to you XY-Chromosomers out there, but being a woman is, for the most part, pretty sweet.

Dresses, Dresses, Dresses

No, not every woman is fond of wearing dresses. To some women, they are a throwback to the days when women were forced to dress in dainty, frilly clothes and act like proper ladies. But to me, and to many other women and girls, dresses are just one way to express ourselves and our femininity. Also, buying one dress often costs less than buying all the individual parts of a pants outfit. Another plus: on warm days, nothing beats the easy, breezy comfort of a skirt.

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Heels

Say what you like, ultra-feminists. For some of us women, nothing is more empowering than tapping through the halls in a pair of heeled boots. Power walk!

We don’t have to be great at everything

I’ve got to say, I in no way envy the competition among men to own the most tech toys, drive the fastest car, or be the best at sports. Except for my super-speed, I have always been blissfully mediocre at sports, and I never felt the pressure to perform any better than that. No need to strip off my t-shirt and shoot hoops. No need to know the stats of every football player in order to participate in a conversation. No shame in having no clue how to hold or shoot a gun. No, not even a virtual gun in a FPS video game.

We are free to express our creative sides

We can be happily artsy, scrapbooking and drawing and turning our homes into something we’ve seen on HGTV. We can indulge in handicrafts without stigma, or even turn our faces into a personal canvas, with makeup and hair tools. We are free to sing, to dance, to write poetry, without ever needing to worry about how others may perceive us.

Yet I can’t help but feel that there is an injustice in this. As wonderful as it is to be a woman for these reasons, wouldn’t the world be a much better place if both genders could enjoy without shame many of these same “feminine” freedoms that I celebrate today?

From Tomboy to Temptress (Okay, Not Really)

Always a tomboy, I now play indoor soccer 3 days per week

On the outside, I was a total tomboy. I wore nothing but jeans, dirty sneakers, and messy ponytails. Instead of hanging out and chatting with other girls, you could find me throwing a baseball, kicking a soccer ball, or racing around the school playground with boys. But this was a deceptive picture of me. At home, where no one could see, I secretly wore frilly dresses and played with dolls.

By the time I reached middle school, being a tomboy was no longer acceptable. Other girls were busy experimenting with makeup and hairstyles, parading around in cute, girly clothes. Me? I still wore boys’ 501 jeans and dirty sneakers and treated makeup like it was poisonous.

“You hate dressing like a girl?” a girl asked me once, when I was in 8th grade. She seemed genuinely puzzled. “Then how do you express your femininity?” She didn’t know it, but her words had a tremendous impact on me. Why did I dislike being feminine? Why did I insist upon being “one of the guys,” more focused on playing sports and computer games than shopping at the mall? I was not gay. I was frightened. Frightened of growing up and changing. Frightened about entering this alien territory of makeup and boyfriends and kissing. It was so much easier to pretend that I was not a girl, to pretend that none of it mattered, when in fact, it mattered very much!

So I studied. The summer before I began high school, I pored over magazines for teenage girls. I experimented with clothes and hair. I begged my older sister, who lived in another town, to come and teach me how to shop for clothes, since my dad was completely clueless about the needs of a growing young woman. On the first day of school, I shocked my classmates by wearing a skirt–a skirt! And makeup! Electric blue mascara, blue eyeshadow, and shiny red lipstick. Okay, yes, it took me a few years to get the makeup thing just right. But the message was clear: the tomboy was growing up. I was making an effort to become what I was always meant to be: a woman.

I will confess, at the age of 36, I still struggle to balance my tomboyish tendencies with my inner girly girl. I live in jeans, but still wear makeup and earrings. I am still more comfortable on a soccer field or virtual battlefield than hanging out with groups of women, but I have learned to enjoy “feminine” activities, too, like baking, homemaking, and handicrafts. I am still frightened and clueless in some ways. I have never had a pedicure or had my eyebrows done or waxing of any kind (I’m supposed to shave where? Eek!).

I guess I am just not finished growing up. Just as I did as a teenager, I have begun to turn to Cosmopolitan for advice on how to become the sexy, confident woman who hides inside of me, so afraid to embrace her potential. I do not have to leave the tomboy behind. Today, I allowed her to come out and play soccer and watch the Superbowl. But first, I went to the mall to buy a sexy, pink, lacy new bra.

Expressing my femininity