I have always wondered about the good girl versus bad girl myth. I am calling this myth, bad information, and a horrible way to raise young girls. When I was a little girl, my mother constantly reminded me that if I wanted people to like me, I had to be a good girl because nobody likes a bad girl. My mother scolded me about my tacky behavior. I was told that everything I did was bad. The way I sat, walked, spoke, laughed, played with my hair and chewed food was bad. According to my mother I was simply being a bad girl on purpose. I was warned that good girls do not hang around boys because that is what bad girls did. When I asked why, I was given this explanation. if I hung around boys, I would be labeled easy and ruin my reputation, therefore nobody would marry me. I was about 8 years old and did not know what the word reputation meant. This was heavy information for a young girl to take in.
There are other disturbing myths that adult’s plant into the innocent minds of little girls. I bring forth this topic as a means for parents, grandparents and the other adults in the village raising our young girls: to be aware and rethink the habit of labeling and sending confusing messages to young girls that result in mental and emotional damage to their self-esteem and self-worth. Little girls eventually grow up to be adults and because of wanting to please people by being a good girl, their adult lives turn into a destructive pattern of pretending and wearing the good girl mask.
I hear other women say, “bad girls are punished because it is the consequences they pay for disobeying rules.” You know the saying, it starts at home, parents feel that their children’s behavior is a judgment of their parenting skills, especially when little girl don’t behave. This judgement is due to the gender double standard rule of boys will be boys, and girls only fall into two categories good or bad. Good girls behave themselves. Good girls do not talk back and do as they are told. Good girls do not play with boys, they dress appropriately, good girls do not ask men out on dates, they wait until they are approached, why because a good girl do not want the reputation of being easy, that is a label for bad girls.
Good girls learn how to cook, clean, manage a home and prepare to become a good wife and mother. Good girls do not speak out of turn, they become people pleasers. Good girls do not have a voice or opinion because they have been taught that society frowns on women who talk back. Society is full of women who do everything right, meaning they excel in life whether married or single, they have a balanced life and they are rewarded by being placed in the category of the good girl.
On the other side, I have seen good girls transformed into bad girls not because they caused a scandal that ruined their reputation, it is simply that they want life beyond the status quo. Or they lived life in reverse, became a young unwed mother, who’s baby daddy ran off and doomed to a life having more children, living on welfare and the best she could do for her children is to live in public housing. I was labeled the typical stereotype of a bad girl being punished for opening my legs at an early age and I got what I deserved. Truth be told, I was not a bad girl, just a young girl who did know what she was doing. I learned a lesson from a mistake I made, but I was branded a bad girl.
I said all of this because sometimes when young girls make mistakes and are branded a bad girl due to lack of knowledge and experience, they spend their entire life trying to prove that they are worthy of being a good girl. I struggled for years in and out of bad relationships trying to be a good girl worthy of a good man results in me losing myself like so many other women.
I am going to leave that right there…. another reason for discussing this topic every day I meet young women who are unsure of themselves and worry about what people are saying about them, but no one is asking them how they feel about themselves, and they fear not meeting up to the expectation of others. They all want to wear the crown of the good girl and not be branded a bad girl, because like my mother said, “nobody likes a bag girl.”
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