Sometimes, it can feel as if every romantic comedy ever to grace the screen at a mainstream movie theater stars the same leading lady.
The charmingly vulnerable, accessibly pretty girl with the perfect rosebud mouth and impossibly white teeth. The damsel with the wide set, oh-so-innocent Bambi eyes that forever glisten with swelling emotion.
Moviegoers are collectively awestruck by this adorable specimen in her girly, yet tomboyish attire, gleaming with the glow of patience as she teaches her damaged male love interest the poignant lesson of loving with an open heart.
She’s non-threatening, “relatable” and undeniably lovable.
She’s simply void of the fear of getting crushed, and if she is afraid — it’s a contrived, surface fear that’s squashed the very moment the hazel-eyed bad boy presses his pouty lips against hers, and swears he’s changed his unsavory ways and will love her until the end of time.
We, on the other hand, are the girls society deemed “guarded”— not exactly a coveted trait. Hollywood finds us highly unmarketable, and rarely are we represented in pop culture (and when we are, it’s not exactly an authentic portrayal).
Being guarded is almost always seen, oddly, as a masculine quality — for it’s always the broodingly handsome, testosterone-laden rocker guy in the movie who has his walls up.
If you're a girl who struggles in the openly vulnerable department, you're made to feel as you've lost touch with the core of your femininity.
In the movie of real life, everyone is eager to change and break the guarded boy; all the while the guarded girl is written off as nothing more than damaged goods. Writing anyone off as anything is overly simplistic and prevents us from discovering the fascinating truth.
Which is odd because the truth is always far more loaded, interesting and dynamic than fiction. If we attempted to break down the guarded girl with the same perseverance we invest into the guarded boy — what truth would we find?
She’s not born; she’s made.
So often do we discuss issues of hate: racism, homophobia and the extreme sexism that tarnishes the planet. After endless debate, the media have safely concluded that most children are not genetically born bigoted — but rather, at some point in their lives, learn to hate.
This theory is not dissimilar to girls who guard. Just like every human being, a guarded girl is born codependent, trusting and vulnerable. A newborn can’t survive without care – it’s inherent within our infant souls to naturally trust the likes of our caretaker.
The walls didn’t one day magically manifest themselves around us — something occurred that made us unconsciously inclined to build them. Sometimes they’re built slowly, brick by brick over the years; sometimes they’re up by sunrise.
The walls could appear the first time someone we loved betrayed us in a brutal way. Or the moment a once endearing touch turned into a terrifying trauma.
Maybe it was when we realized we weren’t the invincible girls we thought we were and that scary characters could creep into our worlds and hurt us in places so deep, we didn’t know they existed.
The common ground every guarded girl shares is this: She didn’t exit the womb cut from steel. Someone, at some point, took something irreplaceable from her. Something she’s terrified to lose again.
She’s careful, not careless.
A guarded girl serves as her very own security system and won’t hesitate to draw her gun if threatened; she will do anything to protect her precious emotional orbit and stay safe.
She’s had to wrestle with negative people ruthlessly breaking into her precious orb before, and has the scars to prove it. Just because you say the right things and sport a clean track record doesn’t mean you can be trusted.
A guarded girl has learned the hardest lesson of all: Monsters don't leave just because you tell them too. Some villains have no qualms about staying uninvited.
Don’t expect a guarded girl to frivolously open her doors just because YOU know you’re a good person. Actions speak far louder than sweet words, a clean bill of history and solid reputation.
She’s not cold; she’s been burned.
My first romantic partner once referred to me as The Ice Queen. “Ice Queen” may sound pretty as it trickles off the tongue — but even my disillusioned teenage self knew it’s wasn’t a compliment.
Girls are supposed to emanate warmth; our default stance is meant to be that of an open-armed goddess, skipping across the strawberry fields, oohing and awing at everything in dear sight.
We're supposed to be wiping hot mascara tears off our petal pink cheeks when we’re watching a tragically romantic movie in a public theater. Public displays of vulnerability are what make us GIRLS, right?
Guarded girls struggle to expose their vulnerabilities to the outer world and are relentlessly cast off as cold-blooded freaks because of it.
Just because a girl isn’t comfortable crying in public, or neglects to swan dive into the extended arms of a stranger’s hug — doesn’t mean she’s cold. In fact, it might just mean the very opposite (just because she doesn't cry in front of you, doesn't mean she doesn't cry).
If a girl didn’t feel things so deeply, there wouldn’t be a need for such a protective outer shell. When you crack open a guarded girl, you will come to find her insides aren’t sculpted from ice. On the contrary, they’re scalding hot.
A guarded girl attains as huge a heart as any girl, and huge hearts break hard.
She isn’t bitter, she just knows better.
Guarded girls are all too often chewed up and spit out for being sour, landing on the dense cement pavement, cut up by the words "bitter bitch.” A bitch that lives her life with a life-sized chip on her shoulder.
If you dared to scratch the surface, however, you would come to find there's a world of a difference between being bitter and simply knowing better.
Just because you can whisper the right things and curl your lips into a seemingly trustworthy smile doesn’t mean your intentions are pure.
A guarded girl knows things aren’t always as they appear, and the prettiest of people can do the ugliest of things.
She wants love just as much as you do.
The most common, most intensely hurtful misconception of a guarded girl is she’s devoid of love. A guarded girl has a plethora of love brewing within her. Her love runs so deep; it’s unthinkable for her to simply give it away without care or thought.
When a guarded girl lets you into her world, she knows it’s for life. She doesn’t subscribe to the frivolity of the modern day love dynamic in which people merely link hearts just to battle through a tough winter or lonely holiday with a faceless warm body to curl into.
The most beautiful part to loving a guarded girl is this: When she lets you in, it’s not because she needs you. She stopped needing people a long time ago. It’s because she wants you. And that – that is the purest love of all.