I'm Not a Damsel: Raising a Woman


Today, Yanira brings us her thoughts in the Raising a Badass Girl series. 

Every night before bed, my daughter asks for a story. She tells me to tell her one from “my mind”. I make up stories about two bunnies, almost every night. I use this time as a way to tell her things about life, like being kind, listening to your parents, never giving up, girl power and on several failed attempts, the importance of eating your fruits and veggies. She likes to add that the older bunny, whom we've named Matilda, loves to paint her nails and wear high heels just like her mom. Today, I have a different story for my daughter.

One week into our new home, our basement had a water leak. The next day, while my husband was at work, I threw on a summer dress and with my freshly painted nails drove to the hardware store to rent a dehumidifier. The young man at the rental checkout processed my paperwork, rolled the heavy equipment to me and sent me on my way, never once asking me if I needed help to my car. I had parked on the opposite side of the store and towards the back of the parking lot. It was a long way to go. I dragged it and all the while passing men physically capable of helping me to my car. Not one offered. I walked with ease but when I got outside I saw something that interesting. These men were helping all the other women to their cars, the difference was that they were carrying pretty little flowers. One even looked right at me as I stared at the back of my SUV, trying to determine how I would even manage to lift the thing to take it home. He was waiting for me to ask. It was expected of me. Instead, I anchored my body against the car, and after a deep breath, lifted with my legs. I may not have much upper body strength but these used to be the legs of a runner. He watched the whole time and looked very surprised that I made it seem so effortless. I flashed him a smile as I got into my SUV and drove off. I can do anything a boy can do, sometimes even in heels.

I didn't expect anyone to offer to help me that day because I, too, am physically capable of doing it myself. I have two legs and two arms just like the men in the store that day. Had someone asked, however, I would have thanked them and kindly declined. You see, it isn't about gender roles and a man's “job” to help the damsel in distress, it was more about being polite than anything. It is just common courtesy, like holding the door for the person walking into the store right behind you, but we no longer live in polite society. I want to teach my daughter the difference between expectance and courtesy.

I learned from my own mother to be independent financially, to never depend on a man but she is also the same woman who insists I wear attractive underwear for my husband so he doesn't stray. My father was an unfaithful man, imagine her struggles with what she was trying to teach and the structure she was trying to hold onto. I admire her strength and her willingness to try but I was happier when she finally let go. I, thankfully, married a man who is unaware of gender roles, who provides simply because he can, not because it is expected. In fact, he likes that I bring home a check while he gets to save on daycare. He is a savvy man not one drenched in machismo. This is also the same man who will sit back and watch as another man talks down to his wife, not because he doesn't care but because according to him “I can handle my own.” My bark is scarier than his bite. Some women would be offended, I am not because my husband, through tough love, has made me realize that me being a woman does not make me weaker, it doesn't make me a victim, and it doesn't make me the damsel in distress. I can defend myself, I can take care of myself, and I can drag heavy machinery and load it into my car all by myself. I want my daughter to know she is not weaker and she is not what society decides for her. She is a woman, a strong woman and she can do it all in heels if she wants. I'm not just raising a bad ass girl, I am raising a woman.

GarzaYanira is a Chicago native, a wife and a mother to a part-time racer girl/part-time ballerina and full-time trouble, Analiese as well as a recent small bundle of joy, Elijah. She is stylist and a makeup artist and has been for over 10 years.  She can color your day with blush,  or her opinion. Wrap you up in fine threads or in fine knowledge. If you're lucky, you'll get both. She currently writes for several media outlets on beauty, style and being a mom as well as on her own site. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.