Being a Muffin

I am not your average woman. I’ve tried to be for years only to realize that being average does not work for me. I am not domestic. I’m a fair cook, but other than that, my domestic skills are limited.

On the outside, I am long haired and when I’m feeling girly, I paint my toes. Other than this, I’m a jeans and sneakers or boots kinda girl. My hair is normally down or in a ponytail. That’s about it. No makeup, except for special occasions. I can apply a decal better than I can eyeliner.

I heard a speech P!nk gave the other night about how her daughter said that she felt ugly because she looked like a boy. I thought of myself as a preteen. I wore a ball cap and had a short haircut. I was mistaken for a boy on more than one occasion. Over the years, throughout my teens, I did all the makeup and girl stuff. However, I’ve never been totally comfortable with it. I mostly did all that because I fell victim to our society and its expectations of girls.

I’ve gone back and forth at war with myself over my appearance and being more feminine. It’s taken me almost thirty years to realize that I need to be comfortable with myself. I’d rather spend my mornings reading or writing than perfectly applying makeup. I couldn’t contour to save my life, and I’m fine with that. Shopping is not my thing. Most of my clothes are ordered or second hand. That’s fine, too. We put too many limitations on our girls.

Girls can be mechanics, techies, gamers, into sports, and things that are considered “guy things.” We don’t have to be made up and dressed like paper dolls. We don’t have to be what society expects. My femininity is not defined by how I look.

I’ve heard many names for it. Tom boy. Androgynous. I just know what’s me and what I like. I saw a little girl in a gas station a few days ago. Her shirt said, “Be a cupcake in a world of muffins.” It was written in glitter and on a pink shirt. I smiled to myself as I recognized that I am in fact a muffin. And that’s great.

For all the little girls who would rather be Batman than a princess when you dress up, who choose hoodies over dresses, who would rather play with Hot Wheels over Barbie, who think heels are a form of torture, and who think they are too boyish or rough around the edges, you are a muffin. That’s amazing, and you are pretty freakin’ perfect just as you are. And if you aren’t a muffin, if you’re a frosted cupcake who loves pink and glitter, and can’t live without makeup, you’re just as perfect.

Whether you are a muffin or a cupcake, don’t let anyone tell you that you should be anything other than yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I would be pretty if I wore a little makeup. Forget that noise. If you’re still deciding who you are, that’s great, too. Take your time. Just be authentic. Don’t fake it for the world. You will be doing yourself a disservice and denying other people the privilege of knowing how wonderful you are.

Moana: Not a Damsel in Distress 

My husband and I are big kids at heart. We still play from time to time, we still play video games, and we still watch cartoons. The cartoons are mostly movies, but hey, don’t judge me. Everyone knows that there has always been a theme for girls. The lead is a pretty princess, she gets into some trouble, somehow a love interest gets involved, they fall in love, and everyone lives happily ever after. That’s great. A nice traditional story that leaves everyone feeling good.

Last night, Tony and I watched Moana. Now, there may be some spoilers below. If there is any chance, you may get mad at me for ruining it for you, even by accident, you may want to stop reading. I intend to tell you everything I liked about this movie even if it means giving things away. So, let’s get started.

Moana lives in a gender progressive tribe.

When we first meet Moana, she is a child being steadily groomed by her father to be become leader of her people. I felt very good about this. In traditional Disney, there is usually a king or a prince or another strong male to rule the land. For a girl who was raised with this and being from a country that has never had a female president, I feel this is so important for our little girls. Also, when Moana is jokingly called a princess, she strongly says that she is the daughter of a chief and will one day be chief of her people.

She is a strong female lead of color.

Disney and other children movie makers have gotten better at including people of color. Maybe not to the extent I would like, but progress, my friends, progress. Pocahontas was a good one, so was Jasmine and Mulan, and of course, Tiana. I’m very proud that Moana is a strong Polynesian girl. All little girls should have someone to recognize with. Pacific islanders are well represented with Moana.

She is determined and pushes limits.

Where Jasmine was confined to the palace, Moana is not to pass the reef around her island. Her father has made it law. While her heart tells her that they should venture out to save her people from ecological destruction, her father will not be moved. Moana’s determination, strong will, and desire to push the limits are what takes care of business throughout the movie. This is important to instill in the next generations of our daughters. Sometimes what’s traditional may not always be right, especially when lives are at stake. I mean, remember human sacrifices?

She is brave.

From the time she is a toddler, she doesn’t have much fear. Even when things get tough and it’s obvious that she’s in a scary situation, she musters up courage and faces whatever comes at her. Sometimes as ladies, we are taught to be meek and mild and seek help for things. While this is important at times, we must also be able to face things on our own. Like Moana, we may be the only one standing for what’s right and for what we believe. Moana faces down bad guys, a demigod, and even her own father.

She actually saves someone else.

It’s a known pattern that the princess gets saved, the bad guys are vanquished, and good wins out in the end. That makes great stories. However, rarely do we see where a female lead saves other people much less herself. As I mentioned, Moana faces bad guys. Sometimes when other people are retreating, she rouses the courage within herself and saves the day. Maui, the demigod who is suppose to be a hero, often retreats and Moana stands to fight.

There is no romance.

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate this. While there is love between Moana’s parents, there’s no love interest, no broken heart, and no romantic fate. None. I can’t tell you how refreshing this was for me. She doesn’t fall in love. She doesn’t have a crush. She is just a teenage girl who is determined to save her people and become a great leader one day.

She shows depth and compassion.

While the seemingly bad guy being misjudged is not a new concept, Moana takes it to a new level. Because she shows compassion and uses her head, she realizes that not all perceived bad things are really bad. Sometimes if someone has been treated unfairly, they react in a negative way, and sometimes a little compassion and care can change how someone sees and reacts to the world.

She saves the day.

Moana has goals in life. When things don’t go as planned and things get tough, she listens to her heart, uses her head, goes on a grand adventure, goes up against challenges, and saves the day. Our little girls may not face the same type of monsters Moana did, but we have plenty of monsters in our society that they will face. They should be equipped with the knowledge that girls can save the day, too.