When I looked up "girly" in my dictionary I couldn't believe it. All it talks about is "displaying young women in a tasteless or vulgar way." Maybe it means that for some people. Maybe it used to mean that for a lot of people. But it means something totally different for most of the people I talk to.

So I read up on it some and thought back to when I was little. I realized the meaning is still changing. It used to be insulting to call anybody girly. Boy or girl, nobody wanted to be called that. Now, girls and women (and even a few womyn, which is kind of funny but not in a bad way) are starting to get more comfortable with the word.

Well, okay, so what does it really mean? The best way I can think of to explain this is compare what it means now and what it used to mean.

Everything about "girly" used to be centered on men. Like my dictionary says, it was all about girls doing things men wanted girls to do. It was all about entertainment for men (now where have I seen that phrase before?). So of course only "bad girls" would do anything girly, because men are supposedly so easy to corrupt if girls give them what they really want. It was girls' job to do the things men should want them to do. "Good girls" that would never even think about being girly were the thin pink line between civilization and the destructive power of uncontrolled male desire. Seems like a really big job for the "weaker sex" but I guess people have believed crazier things.

Now we're starting to realize making sure a man stays virtuous is, well, a man's job. Girls are taking back control of what "girly" means. It's all about girls doing the things girls want to do.

Girls can dream about growing up to be doctors or astronauts or Senators, and they don't have to pretend they're boys to succeed. They can play with Barbie dolls and makeup and hair and clothes and it doesn't stop them from playing with bikes and trucks and fake ninja swords if they want to. Girls can have tea parties and slumber parties and sweet sixteen parties, and it doesn't stop them from having fun in a backyard campout or a treehouse.

Thanks to all this, women of all ages are starting to realize they can have a career and a family and there's nothing wrong with that. Just like there's always been nothing wrong with men having a career and a family.

There's still too much of the old meaning hanging on to "girly", but I think it's great so many of us are learning to really believe there's nothing to be ashamed of in being female. I hope we keep going until everybody believes it.

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