What is it like being a girl?

A simple question, with infinite answers

“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week when he asked women on the website for advice on what to do if he “magically became a girl tomorrow”. The post generated over 9,000 responses with most ladies advising ‘tallguy49’ to stockpile tampons and keep a large supply of chocolate nearby.

There’s more to being a woman than menstruation and Mars bars though, so I’ve compiled my own words of wisdom to be read and imbibed by curious men everywhere.

When you wake up on this magical morning, take a moment to explore your new body. Stand in front of a mirror and observe every inch of it; every new crevice; every roll of skin. After all, the minute you leave the house, men (and other women) will start to eyeball you, so it’s only fair you get the first viewing. You’ll have curves in places you once had right angles, softness in areas you once had coarseness, and an absence of hair where you once had an abundance. Enjoy it. Appreciate it.

Boobs are wonderful. Lovely, bouncy things that are simultaneously fun and life-giving. Go on, have a fiddle.

Put make up on if you want. One of the best things about being a girl is that you can hide blemishes with the latest cosmetics. Of course, one of the worst things about being a girl is feeling as though you have to. If a man looks rough around the edges, no one bats a mascara-ed eyelid. The media will pollute your mind with unattainable images of beauty. Do your best to ignore them. 

Next, off to work. A man on the bus will think it is okay press up against you during rush hour. You’re fairly certain that’s not a pen in his pocket (is he really that pleased to see you?) but you ignore it because you’re already late on account of having spent half an hour that morning emptying the bathroom cupboard in search of a tampon.

(Yes, periods will surprise you every month. The only thing regular about them is their knack of popping up just before a holiday, or when you’re staying at a friend’s house.)

If you work in a male-dominated environment people will assume you’re the secretary. When you were a man you could banter with the best of them, but now you’ll find yourself the butt (sometimes literally) of men’s jokes. You’ll have to fight even harder to be taken seriously.

If you want to have children, beware the young whippersnappers ready to gazump you. Expect to be passed over in favour of non-child-bearing males. Observe as men tick off pay rises and promotions while you juggle childcare and meetings, but don’t forget that you birthed a life. A goddamn life.

Of course, if you don’t want children, you should watch out for the wary eyes, the pitying stares, and the “we’ll see…” comments. No such pressure exists for a man, but a non-maternal woman is regarded with the kind of caution usually reserved for out-of-date meat. (It’s probably okay - but do you want to risk it?)

As a result, female colleagues are sometimes hard-nosed and competitive. Either ignore them or become them. Girls can be cruel. Men throw punches, but we hold grudges. Develop a thick skin because we’re really not the fairer sex. That being said, women will also be your redeemers. Who else is going to lend you a tampon in a public toilet? Enjoy the companionship, revel in the laughs, and find comfort in the tears. Female friendship is empowering.

Be a feminist if you want, but avoid women who force their opinions down your throat. Make up your own mind and ignore anyone who says you’re letting the side down if you like lipstick or high heels.

Most importantly of all? Take my advice with a pinch of salt. If you are lucky enough to become a girl tomorrow, remember that although no two women are the same, we’re all equally marvellous.

Read more: Gender discrimination shadows women, from cradle to grave
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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