It’s a well-known saying that women take forever in the bathroom and stand in front of a full rack of clothes exclaiming ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’ And although I feel that this opinion is outdated, irrelevant, exaggerated, and, well, sexist – I can’t ignore that, for the girls who do live up to this stereotype, there is a perfectly good reason for it. And it actually comes from the way they have been brought up to view themselves.
I know from personal experience that growing up as a girl means being constantly told that, even though what is on the inside is ‘more important’, nobody is going to want to get to know the inside of you if the outside of you doesn’t look good.
I have been through a British primary school and secondary school witnessing people being labelled, placed in boxes and presumed to
have certain tastes and personalities depending on the way they dress.
And it’s difficult to see that happen every single day and not think that your personality and dress-sense are connected in some way.
A girl is seen wearing skinny jeans, a band t-shirt and a leather jacket and she’s a ‘tomboy’. A girl is seen wearing a flowery dress and some ballet pumps, and she’s a ‘pretty girly girl’. A girl is seen wearing a pair of Vans, leggings and a plain white t-shirt and she’s a ‘sporty girl’.
Girls are told from an early age that what people think of them matters more than what they think of themselves, and then when they get older they’re hit with the notion that your clothes = your personality.
In short, if they want to be perceived in a certain way then they must wear these specific clothes.
If they dress in a way that doesn’t coordinate with a stereotype, they are shunned and given a negative label because people are unable to place them – and other people’s opinions of us are way more important than our own opinions of us.
This obviously happens to males as well – I’m not discounting their experiences of this kind of thing – but the difference lies in the fact that boys are not reduced down to the way they look.
A boys personality is almost always based on the way he acts, not the way he looks. Boys have the opportunity to express themselves in a myriad of different ways; even after the first impression they make on people, but it is way more difficult for a girl because they are told every single day that they are only worth as good as they look.
For a girl, it is not the way they see themselves that defines them – it is the way others see them.
So when girls stand in front of their wardrobes saying ‘I have no idea what to wear’ – it’s not because they can’t find clothes that match – it’s because they can’t find clothes that express the type of person they want to be.