Why I'm Proud to Be Called a Bitch
When I was in third grade, the middle-schoolers flocking down the hallway to visit our class. The girls would talk to my peers, cooing about how cute them and their hair bows were. I was never on the receiving end of these compliments.
I stood a solid six inches taller than both the boys and girls in my grade. My natural resting face looked somewhat angry. In addition to my physical features, I was also headstrong and argumentative. If I saw a problem, I immediately confronted it. Year after year, I was clearly disliked by my teachers and most of my peers; all of them found me off-putting. My fourth grade teacher even told my mom that I “wasn’t one to pull back punches,” implying that it was a problem.
By sixth grade, I’d earned myself a label: bitch. It would take me a few more years to realize it wasn’t a problem at all.
I tried to fit in throughout middle school, but my efforts were fruitless. By high school, I started to embrace my label. I slowly realized that I wasn’t called a bitch because I was mean, but because I was a woman who was confident and vocal.
Instead of staying at my private Catholic school for high school, I transferred to a fine arts school where I quickly was labeled a bitch again—but this time I saw no shame. I made the decision to wear my label as a positive thing, and from then on people interacted with me differently. I was well liked. My peers saw me as strong; many of the underclassman even looked up to me.
Rarely do I ever hear a girl being called a bitch because she is truly a mean person. She's generally self-possessed and assertive so it's her confidence that is ill received. ”Bitch” is often used to put strong women down. But if "bitches" don’t allow the word to dominate who they are, they can gain the upper hand. As Tina Fey said, "Bitches get stuff done."
There’s a power I’ve gained from shamelessly accepting my label as a bitch. If we decide to redefine a word originally intended to bring us down, nobody has the power to belittle us. To me, “bitch” is not an insult anymore; I encourage women to never feel badly about themselves if they get called the name. If you think about why you’re being called a bitch, odds are it means you’re stronger and more secure than the people trying to bring you down. And what's not empowering about that?
Feature photo by Mary Fehr @marycfehr