By Anna Tabet |

Aside from my mom, I was the only girl in my entire family for 19 years.

Both my parents grew up with brothers, which made it even less surprising when each of them only had sons. So I guess you could say I felt like I was drowning in testosterone from the second I was born.

My male-dominated reality made me incredibly excited to begin preschool because for once, I would be a part of a community that could potentially provide me with some girl friends. Imagine my surprise when I walked into class the first day and I was the only girl. 11 boys and little ol’ me.

Honestly, it would’ve been easy for me to hate the fact that I could not escape boys no matter how hard I tried, but I genuinely didn’t mind it. Would I have preferred to have a single friend that understood the struggles of being a 3-year-old girl? Yes. But all of the boys in my life at that time provided me with a unique perspective on topics that I hadn’t ever considered before. Plus they all gave me their M&Ms during snack time so that was definitely a bonus.

I saw no issue in being raised around only boys, until I was in elementary school. My go-to outfit at the time was my brothers’ hand-me-down basketball shorts and a t-shirt. It was comfortable and it made me feel like I was ready to jump into action at any moment. The other girls in my grade, however, did not recognize the functionality of my outfit. They stared incessantly at the bagginess of my clothes and were quick to question why I wasn’t wearing anything pink or sparkly.

I quickly became insecure about how I dressed for school, despite the fact that I had never seen an issue with any of my outfits before. My insecurity drove me to start dressing in clothing that I hated, in the hopes of being accepted by my female peers. Instead of resorting to my cool and comfy basketball outfits, I practically became a model for Justice clothing.

This insecurity and need to fit in with what the popular female crowd considered to be an acceptable outfit for girls to wear influenced my daily decisions for much longer than I’d care to admit.

I hate the fact that I fought so hard to be a part of a female community that consistently tore me down because I didn’t fit the mold of what they envisioned a young girl to look like. My happiness and comfort with my looks had no influence on how they felt about me. If I didn’t fit their standard of femininity, then in their eyes, I had no value.

The whole point of the movement of feminism is equality among the sexes, and that includes questioning the guidelines that others have set for women, as well as redefining their worth.

I was no less of a girl than my classmates that wore pink sparkly bows and flowy dresses. I was a girl when I spent my days on the basketball court.

I was a girl when I decided to spend all of recess on my monkey bars until I got calluses on my hands.

And I definitely was a girl when I wrote and printed my very first book (with the help of my wonderful mother).

It took me a while to recognize that just because something has always been a certain way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right. I’m proud to say that I now define my femininity in any way I choose to, and so do countless others.

For me, the first step is through my new two-month-old cousin, Chloe. I love that she gets to grow up in a world where women are taking control of their own narrative. I cannot wait to help her become one of those women.