Initially this started out as a “Fat girls can’t do anything right” article but as I typed on, a niggling voice at the back of my mind reminded me that these are scenarios that any girl goes through at least once in her life, regardless of her shape, colour and size. Between stigma-driven accusations such as fat-shaming and victim-blaming, just to list a few of the criticisms that women commonly experience as they move through society, sometimes it’s just plain complicated being a female. Whether it’s at school, in the workplace, among family or even among friends, subconsciously we’re always wondering if we’re doing something wrong that’s going to send the wrong message out to people.

In case you’re thinking this is yet another one of those namby-pamby articles, let me assure you that it is in fact not one of those overly sensitive pieces of work which are so focused on being politically correct that everything ceases to make sense after a while. This is an article written by a young woman for the young women out there who have had the same experiences and think it is normal to constantly doubt themselves. While in no way are we promoting a “victim” mentality whatsoever, it is undeniable that issues like these simply exist as a result of more than a fair share of tactless and unenlightened souls out there. Here are some of the things we can’t seem to get right:

1. Dressing up

Putting religious principles aside, when a girl covers up too much she may develop a reputation for being frigid and wracked with insecurities. People assume that she hates her flabby arms, that she probably has cellulite down to her knees and that she has something to hide in general. But then again, we’re also all too familiar with the connotation that comes on the other end of the spectrum to girls who wear clothes which are deemed too tight or too revealing. Regardless if it really is your personal style or whether it’s the unintentional slip of a bra strap, or unknowingly putting on a shirt that’s shrunk in the wash, slut-shaming talk is always on the tip of wagging tongues.

2. Dating

Speaking of slut-shaming, this is often a touchy area for most girls who lead an active love life. If you don’t date, they say you’re not popular with the boys, while silently acknowledging that you’re not pretty, skinny or vivacious enough to attract anyone. However, anyone who has been in the game for a long time knows that sometimes it’s near impossible to find a prince without kissing a few frogs first. But girls also know only too well the implications that this presents. So what exactly is the right amount of dating that is deemed appropriate to society? If anyone figures out the magic formula, please let the rest of us know.

3. Eating

This one especially applies to all the curvy, plus-sized girls out there. If you eat too much, regardless of whether you’re eating the same amount as a skinny hungry person with a way better metabolism, judgement will be made of how you don’t take care of your diet and how it shows. But if you’re not eating up to par, suddenly everyone is nudging you in the ribs and cheekily asking you if you’re on a diet. I may be fat, but please don’t forget that I’m also a human being with varying levels of appetite. There will be days when I can probably eat enough to qualify for the food version of the Olympics, but then there are also days where I quite simply don’t feel like eating anything. Just as you were taught when you were little, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything. It’s really simple.

If you’re someone who has never experienced any of this in your entire lifetime, then consider yourself a fortunate one. For the rest of us, as clichéd as it sounds, there’s really no way to keep the world happy without completely losing yourself, and the world still wouldn’t be satisfied anyway. Conforming to society’s expectations of females is the mental equivalent of whittling away your round personality to cater to the smallness of other people’s square ones. There’s a saying that goes “Always be the first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else” and as much as I hate tacky quotes manufactured on the Internet, this one hits the nail right on the head.

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"I'm the writer your mother warned you about." A modern South East Asian girl who's ahead of her time and currently in the midst of self-rebranding. Plans on being a lazy, entitled, money-driven millennial even when she's seventy. A perfect combination of all four Golden Girls, her fruit equivalent would be a spicy strawberry.