Prissy is Not a Bad Word

Whether it be movies, television or books, it seems that one story is told more than any other: that of the Girl Next Door. The GND is defined as different things for different generations. To my mother, it was the sweet, kind girl that a sweet, nice boy could take home to meet his family. For my generation, it seems to have developed into something a little different. Our GND is best defined by Mia Thermopolis, Princess of Genovia. The Princess Diaries was a pop culture staple in my teen years; and with good reason. She never quite fit in; she was a little weird; and she’d rather be playing arcade games than taking etiquette lessons. So many people could relate to Mia.

Except for me. I couldn’t understand her at all. Granted, my teenage hair was an atrocious mess, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. It was for lack of proper styling products and a weird obsession with attempting to make my stick straight hair super curly. That’s it. Otherwise, I wanted an opportunity for etiquette lessons and briefings from the diplomatic corps. Of course I’d rather be taking tea in the garden over playing sticky games on a boardwalk. How could Mia not already know which fork belonged to what course or that sherbet is used as a palate cleanser?! No matter how much I love the movie (so much!) I just couldn’t see myself in her shoes.

Mia isn’t the only one. So many of my most beloved books, stories, or songs praise the virtue of the GND. She’s the girl who can play ball and climb trees and pack for a European vacation in nothing but a backpack. She’s ready in five minutes and prefers sneakers to stilettos. Basically, she’s the girl in Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me

She wears high heels, I wear sneakers

She’s cheer captain and I’m only the bleachers

(Please note there’s totally nothing wrong with sneakers. I’m a flat shoe everyday kind of girl but only because the kind of heels that aren’t murder on your feet are terribly expensive and also I’m a tiny bit afraid of my chiropractor.)

Somewhere along the way, this girl became the ideal girl. Everyone wants to try to be her or date her. It’s commonplace even among my friends to mock the girl who is grossed out by the idea of a hike through the woods and insists on packing a blowdryer wherever she goes. Prissy has become a bad word.

I think there are a lot of sociological reasons why prissy is something to be loathed instead of lauded, but I won’t go into that here. What I will say is this–there is nothing wrong with being prissy. I am prissy and proud. High maintenance? You bet. So is my computer. I take extra time and care with it just like I do with myself. I consider my own value to be at least that of an Apple product. Bugs freak me out. My idea of a good time outdoors involves a tennis court, a very manicured park, or croquet. Notable exceptions include if someone wants to take me riding. I’m totally down for horse time. And an excuse to wear riding clothes.

Don’t get me wrong. I am so glad that there are women who love nature and dirt and all the things that I don’t. Some of my friends are this way and they are wonderful. I just think it’s time that we prissy girls who prefer lace to leather and manicured nails and lawns to wilderness and wildlife speak up and defend ourselves. You think I’m prissy, high maintenance, a princess?

Thank you for noticing.






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