The Emotional Aftermath Of Growing Up As A Female With A Bad Repuation

by Zara Barrie

We don’t have to dive into the deepest crevice of the universe to discover this ever-obvious, profoundly transcendent truth: Adolescence is HELL.

While the throes of puberty are highly unfortunate times for the acne-ridden, forced-to-endlessly-prove-their-masculinity, hormone-laden boys, being an adolescent girl comes with its own pretty intense set of problems.

Somewhere between the oh-so-tender ages of 10 and 13, the once powerfully united Girl-World finds itself divided into two vicious parts:

The "Good Girls" and The "Bad Girls."

Like many of my sharply brunette and helplessly over-developed middle school compatriots, I was quickly deemed a “bad girl” and was forced to wear that repressive label until the day I graduated from high school. And it wasn’t a reputation I chose.

Maybe it’s because I was one of those girls who looked 16 at 12. Maybe it’s because I had an irrepressible affinity for all-black attire and liquid eyeliner.

Maybe it’s because I was the sister to a swarthy, skateboarder, pothead older brother, who sported a bad-boy reputation of his very own (and "bad" blood is genetic).

I could gather my most trusted tribe of former bad girls, and we could ponder the roots of our teenage reputations all day, but that’s a conversation suited for a dark bar with a heavy pour.

Herein lies the real trouble of having a bad reputation at a young age: You can only call us something for so long before we slip into that role, right?

While the transition from being simply told we were “bad girls” and actually becoming bad girls might be murky — what’s clear is this: No matter how many years we put between us and high school nor how many times we attempt to pick up the broken pieces and rebuild ours lives, our bad-girl reputations have seeped into the thick of our bloodlines, and (for better or for worse) we carry them with us everywhere we go.

For the emotional ramifications of having a bad girl reputation follow us deep into adulthood:

Mothers Will Always Disapprove (at least in our minds)

The cliché: “Every town is a small town” is especially apparent when it comes to a girl’s reputation. The truth is it was often the parents of our "friends" who served as the biggest gossipmongers.

See, when you’re a “bad girl,” your friend’s parents eternally blame you for every idiotic screw-up or busted misadventure their precious, perfect children stumble upon -- even if you aren’t present (you could have been on f*cking MARS when the incident takes place).

We bad girls could’ve embodied the warmth and manners of a fine English royal, but parents always exuded a cloud of fear when we befriended one of their own.

Cut to a decade later, our sh*t is impressively TOGETHER -- yet we are still overwhelmed with fear by the presence of your mother.

The parental wounds we’ve caused remain deeply unhealed.

Note to all partners dating former “bad girls”: We are overcome with anxiety when meeting your parents (who inevitably adore us, who wouldn’t?), and require incessant reassurance they approve of us.

Deal with it; we make up for this minor annoyance in a plethora of vibrant of ways.

We Work TWICE As Hard

We were so NOT the girl voted “most likely to succeed” in our high school superlatives.

If we weren’t banned from the pages of our high school yearbooks, the only recognition we were provided were the backhanded superlatives, the ones loaded with double meanings and pregnancy rumors (AKA “Class Flirt.”)

See, we “bad girls” are intensely bright, ever-complex creatures, who were simply too curious for our own good as teenagers.

The moment we paused, took a deep breath and channeled our wild, insatiable energy into healthier things -- we became an unstoppable force to be reckoned with, women destined to take over the WORLD.

Just like our reckless teenage selves, “bad girls” still burn with the desire to prove you wrong. We will work harder than anyone, any day of the week — because we like to STICK IT TO THE MAN.

Natural Girlfriends, We Are Not

Straight, gay, bi, poly or pansexual — wherever we may land on the sexuality pendulum is irrelevant to the fact that holding the title of your “girlfriend” is weird and triggering.

After so many years of holding court as merely your mistress, side chick or secret lover — venturing into the big, bad "girlfriend" world is unchartered territory for us.

As former social misfits, we learned to enjoy our own company. We are the polar opposite of that perfectly-coiffed, needy girl, who dated the prim (probably gay) boy throughout high school.

We didn't save our virginity for you, and it’s not part of our physiological makeup to call you every 20 minutes and keep you updated on our day. (What's the f*cking point?)

We are the kindred of the great, untamable lioness, protective and deeply loving -- but not wired to be your co-dependent.

After all, wasn’t it our cunning lack of subservience that first gave us a "bad girl" reputation to begin with?

That’s a quality I'm keeping, thankyouverymuch.

We Fear Being Used

From puberty until the end of our teenage years, we bad girls were constantly being used for something: sex, drugs, our parents’ beautifully accessible liquor cabinet, YOU NAME IT.

Sometimes we were used to prove a point to your ex-girlfriend or as tools to piss off your conservative parents.

The truth that you love us for the wild and wonderful women we are -- not just because we will sleep with you on the first date -- is a hard pill to swallow and is going to take some time to DIGEST.

When We Make Friends, We Make Them For Life

If you are lucky enough to befriend a bad girl (no easy feat), it will be one of the most undeniably genuine and everlasting friendships of your entire life.

See, bad girls understand the piercingly painful cut of judgment.  We grew up being discriminated against for everything -- our mistakes, lifestyle, looks, sexuality -- the list is limitless. We accept imperfections, and we don't bestow judgment unto our dear friends.

Due to our vast expanse of life experience, we are enlightened eons beyond our years. We are the friends you can simply text "I'm not okay" to, and, within the hour, we will be in your kitchen, providing you with precious pearls of wisdom whilst pouring glasses of red wine (even if it's 2 am).

We might be a hard shell to crack; we've been betrayed by girls more times than our black-nail-polish-adorned hands can count.

But we're akin to a Cadbury cream egg: gooey and sweet in the middle (just don't f*ck us over).

We Don't Care What The F*ck You Think

Our vulnerable teenage years inform the relationships, career choices, hang-ups and insecurities that exist in our adult lives in FAR more ways than we credit them for.

After spending our formative years with an overabundance of negativity thrown toward us, we have emerged into the real world, tough as NAILS. We learned to dismiss what the masses thought of us -- not because we wanted to, but because it was the only way to survive.

We are the people who love whomever the f*ck we want to love. We are the supremely stylish individuals who wear whatever the f*ck we like. We chase our dreams with a ferocious fearlessness and are not intimidated to explore outside our comfort zone.

We are powerfully independent women, who answer only to ourselves. We are the entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, CEOs, groundbreakers and moguls of the millennia.

Hey, remember that girl you wrote off as nothing but a shameless "slut" in high school? She's the queen of the universe, now (and probably your boss, too).