what they don't tell you about being a woman
You can have your cake and drench it in alcohol too. It's called tiramisu.
Ahh, womanhood. It's pretty phenomenal, isn't it. You're a fully grown arse-kicking hair-flicking boss who can own a business and climb Mt Everest and grow a literal human being inside of you and then actually push it out your vagina. I mean, if that is not the epitome of mental and physical strength I do not know what is. I quit. The end.
Of course, despite being able to do all this - and that is just a water particle on a snowflake on the tip of a colossal iceberg of what we can do - women still get the short straw. Or more accurately, the short dude with the Napoleon complex in a grossly oversized tie, signing executive orders about our bodies on our behalf.
But while Trump and co. are pertinent (and repugnant) examples of people dictating how women live their lives, this isn't anything new. Years of social conditioning and indoctrination about acceptable 'norms' have ruthlessly drilled us on How to Be a Woman. It's the canon of stereotypical (and stereotyping) rom-coms showing us that the only interactions you can have with other women are either a) giggling about boys whilst twirling a mini umbrella round a fluorescent vodka concoction or b) getting revenge over that bitch who totally stole your boyfriend ffs so pass me the stilettos to drag through her perfectly blow dried mane. It's lingerie advertisements telling us we should have boobs, bigger ones, because oh my have we got a mini inflatable push up for you! I could go on, forever, but I won't because you're a busy woman and have shit to do.
We can brush these 'little' things off, because it's no big deal! I'm an independent woman - watch me build this Ikea shelving unit on my own! But they add up, and alongside the Ikea instructions is the blueprint for Being a Woman, and you don't fit it, and that can feel crap. So then you have to unlearn all the things you learnt, and figure out new ways to be, and then write them all down in a snazzy list titled Things They Don't Tell You About Being A Woman.
And here we are. So here we go.
Related: Always steal toilet paper, never share e-cigarettes and if you're in love with someone try not to have sex with anyone who isn't them. Bertie Brandes may still be growing up, but she's got some advice for you.
You Can Be the Fun Party Girl and the Home Body Who Just Really Loves Her TV and All of the Things at Once
Well, not necessarily at the same time unless you're cooking a bowl of fettuccine at 4am for your partygoers and serving it off the floor. Now, that would actually be a very strong move. But unfortunately it's been drilled into us that we must choose one type of personality thanks to addictive Buzzfeed quizzes that want to broadcast to the world which specific Spice Girl we are, lest someone else tries to claim her in the school talent show. Honestly, I could have thrown 29 parties and made 87 roasts with the time I wasted as a teen angsting over whether I was the 'fun-smirnoff-ice-sculling-table-top-breaking-oops-I-puked-in-the-garden' party girl OR the 'baking-obsessed-stay-home-with-mum-all-weekend-watching-X-Factor-reruns one. But really, you can be a mix of Posh and Sporty with a dash of Scary. You can love karaoke but also be super into crocheting mittens for your cats. You don't need to figure out what 'kind' of person you are, you're just a person, who does lots of different things and has many different interests and they're all equally great and valid. You can bake your cake and drench it in alcohol too. It's called tiramisu. And it's fucking amazing.
Female Friendship Does Not Have to Be the Nightmare in Which Everyone Leaves Shitty Passive Aggressive Texts in the Group Whatsapp
You don't get annoyed with each other because you're both girls. You get annoyed with each other because you're humans, and humans are weird and erratic and have annoying habits like hoarding all the mugs in their room (guilty). Yes, female friendships can be different and difficult and emotional and involve overreacting to cryptic messages because sarcasm don't translate well over text. But they can also be the definition of chill af and consist of drunkenly spooning each other on the kitchen floor while eating a punnet of Ben and Jerry's with a straw. With the same friend.
You Are a Human Being and Have Bodily Functions
Ok, it's pretty much common knowledge that having your period sucks, so I'm not going to include it on this list. But do you know what else sucks? Ingrown hairs. Itchy boobs. Chafing. All these other things that no one really talks about because you're not meant to have them. You're meant to be a shiny beacon of hairless bronzed marble-smooth flesh. A walking not talking cosmetic ad, with a literal thigh gap that has never touched a toilet seat. And don't you dare fart in front of your boyfriend because god forbid he may break up with you once he realises you're a human being with internal organs and a taste for cabbage. But come on people - even Beyonce takes a crap. Think about it.
Being Single Is Really Not That Bad
According to 99.8999% of films and homeware commercials, we are defined by the guy we are with. We need to accessorise his life like the inch of makeup we apparently need to accessorise our face with. Shameless plug (because we can actually promote our work even though life tells us girls this is crass and obnoxious and we should shut up now please thanks) - I wrote a guide to being single for valentine's day, which you can read here. Which also translates to a guide to being single in daily life, and pretty much sums up my feelings on the fact. Go forth and do you, my friends.
You Can Be Funny and Smart and These Things Are Important
Thanks to the the invention of #selfies and pretty much every burger joint ad ever, there's a disproportionate weight placed on what women look like. Yeah, it's cool to own your image and your look and that is all very important. As is being proud of how you present yourself - whether it's online, in person, or in the bathroom selfie you're taking just for yourself because the light is really goddamn good in here. But what is also really important and cool? Doing shit! Making things! Drawing up a budget you probably won't stick to! Don't let the gross over-representation of male comedians and engineers let you think women aren't funny or smart and only have brains the size of Trump's tiny little hands. You know we don't. Make sure everyone else does too.
You Are Fine
I'm not going to tell you you're perfect, because let's face it --you're not. No one is. And the notion that we are all perfect just the way we are is bullshit, and perpetuates the myth that perfection is something we should strive towards anyway. Which we shouldn't. Because do you know what's better than perfection? Acceptance. Acceptance of yourself. Of the dimples in your arse cheeks and the ever present food splatters on your T-shirts and the fact that you're maybe not the most timely person in the world but this does not make you a total failure at life. And then take a deep breath, flash those pearly off-whites, and go be a woman in whatever way you want.
Text Georgie Wright
Photography Nana B Agyei