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Girly girl is a slang term for a girl or woman who chooses to dress and behave in an especially feminine style, such as wearing pink, using make-up, using perfume, dressing in skirts, dresses and blouses, and talking about relationships and other activities which are associated with the traditional gender role of a girl.
Though the term is sometimes used as a term of disdain, it can also be used in a more positive way, particularly when exploring one of a range of gender positions. Being a 'girly girl' can then be seen as a fluid and partially embodied position - a form of discourse taken up, discarded or modified for tactical/strategic ends.
An ancestral figure of the girly girl was the womanly woman of the early 20th century, caricatured and attacked by the flapper as a "bundle of beautiful clothes...[round a] mass of affectations". An earlier term for a squeamish kind of ultra femininity was missish.
The opposite of a girly girl is a tomboy. The increasing prevalence of girly girls in the early 21st century has been linked to the post-feminist, post-new man construction of masculinity and femininity in mutually exclusive terms, as opposed to the more blurred gender representations of previous decades.
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- Linda Duits, Multi-Girl-Culture (2008) p. 141
- Duits, p. 136
- M. O'Sullivan/A. MacPhail, Young People's Voices (2010) p. 37-8
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bernice Bobs her Hair (1963) p. 18
- Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophie (1960) p. 275
- Natasha Walter, Living Dolls:The Return of Sexism (2010) p. 211
- Adam Phillips, On Flirtation (1994) p. 122-4