Hey, Girl!

By Shana McLaughlin

I can’t seem to remember when my mom stopped calling me her “little girl” or when I started getting the “young lady” line every time I did something wrong. It seemed like it just was natural progression in her head. She knew when I wasn’t a little girl anymore, and if I asked her she wouldn’t know when the transition happened either. And, every year older I become, the further I fall from the answer.

When did I become a woman? Maybe the timing is unclear, but coming to Georgetown showed me I definitely had. I have become very aware of their distinct difference between the two: girl and woman. Both may distinguish me as a female, but use one instead of the other and my identity is completely altered. And maybe my mom has stopped calling me a girl, but I have found that the word is not totally absent within or generation of young adult woman. “Hey girl” is our go to when we see our friends in Leo’s, and you can find at least five Instagram captions with “my girls”. The dictionary would define a woman as an adult female person, and a girl as a female child, so why are we still labeling each other with it even though we are somewhere in our late teens or early twenties.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. Scroll through my Instagram and I probably have labeled my friends “girls” a few times, if not every other post. But ask me to tell you about them and I would describe them as the most amazing women you could find on campus. Why can’t we have the best of both worlds?

A woman is strong, successful, powerful, creative. A girl is fun, excited, adventurous, willing to put her whole self into things. I don’t see the negative in being either; I strive to be both but I do acknowledge the fine line that is drawn. There are situations, especially in college, where the identities should not be mixed. When you walk into an important meeting or interview where you have to embrace your strength and potential, being called anything but a woman among your male counterparts would be unacceptable. While socializing with your friends, being called a woman isn’t anything less than awkward.

“Hey girl!” and every head turns in the room. We respond to it. It is part of our generation and our culture, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can become a bad thing when either one of the girl or woman identities begins to take over. As a college student it’s one more thing we have to balance in our lives. The balance, when achieved, is well worth it, and makes perfect woman, or girl, who can take on anything.