Three years ago, a very short time after Girls in Capes first launched, we got a question about the name of our site, which I addressed in my editor’s letter for that month:
During a conversation with someone who eventually became a staff writer, the “girls versus women” question came up in discussion. If I remember correctly, it was related to my Wonder Woman inspiration – she’s Wonder Woman, not Wonder Girl.
Except I’m not Wonder Woman. At least, not yet.
At the time, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a girl. This morning, I woke up, looked at my reflection, and definitely saw a woman looking back.
It would be very difficult to pinpoint the moment at which I truly felt as if I’d become a woman. Three years, after all, feels like a short amount of time between feeling like a child and feeling like an adult. It wasn’t the moment I walked into grad school, or the moment I crossed the stage at graduation; it wasn’t when I moved in with a significant other for the first time, or when we moved out after breaking up.
But there’s one way I’ve noticed my slow and steady transition over the course of years — not just the past three years, but starting from the time I was only in middle school.
Over time, I’ve steadily started to read and relate to more stories about women than stories about girls.
As a disclaimer, I’ve been interested in books about women from an early age — I’ve written in the past on why Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series had such an impact on my life, and the series follows protagonist Keladry of Mindelan from her time as a page (starting at age ten) to her adventures as a young knight. Similarly, an earlier Pierce series, Song of the Lioness, follows the adventures of Alanna of Trebond as a girl becoming a woman while disguised as a boy becoming a man.
But like many young women of my generation, I’ve resisted adulthood and clung to the teenage years way beyond age nineteen. Today’s target market for young adult books consists of women in their 20s, not girls ages 13 to 18. I started graduate school at age 21, planning a career working with young adult books, because I thought I’d never grow out of them.
At some point between starting at 21 and finishing at 24, though, something changed. I started to lose interest in reading about teenage Special Snowflakes when I could read about generals who conquer empires. The Chosen Ones of the literary world stopped interesting me, and I became more interested in the survivors, the strategists, and the warriors — those who weren’t chosen by some great destiny, but who happened to be in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time. Part of me who knew instinctively that a girl was someone who hadn’t finished growing yet knew, also by instinct, that I already had.
Womanhood has a different meaning to every individual, and everyone who enters it experiences it differently. For me, my entrance into womanhood can be clearly marked by the stories I seek out. Others gain the self-awareness of their womanhood through rites of passage, through introspection, and — in some cases — through difficult and emotional journeys.
In this month’s issue, we explore womanhood as it intersects with entertainment, from the most realistic women in anime to gender in the Lumberjanes comic and much more.
What made you start to realize you had become a woman?
Feliza Casano edits and writes for all sections of the site. She is not nearly as impressive as Keladry of Mindelan. Keep up with her antics at felizacasano.com and follow her on Twitter @FelizaCasano.