When does a girl become a woman?

“Do I look sunburnt?”

My boss looks at me from across the room.

“People think I don’t know what’s going on. I know exactly what’s going on. You’ve put on a couple of kilos, haven’t you?”


“You’ve put on some weight, and it’s gone to your hips. You finally look like a f***ing woman, not a stick insect.”

“Oh, okay. Is it better?”

“Damn right you look better. You’ve also got a bit of a belly. So don’t put on any more weight…Oh, and you do look a little sunburnt.”

About a week ago, my boss confirmed what I had been suspecting from an uneasy fit in my favourite pair of jeans – I had put on a couple of kilos. For the first time in my life, I was 45 kgs. For the first time in a long time, I had moved significantly away from the anorexic-like red borderline of 40kg.

With the onset of:

  • my 28th birthday (Jan next year)
  • my first ever car service (on Sat, 5th Dec) and my one-year anniversary as a car owner
  • and my decision to live my life based on my own set of principles (based on Essentialism) rather than religion

I wonder…when does a girl become a woman? I do know one thing – just because you have breasts it doesn’t mean you are a woman. One of my favourite stand-up comedians, Louis CK, separates females into those who have had kids (‘Women have breasts. I get bills for my wife’s breasts’) and those who haven’t yet (‘Girls have tits’).

But I don’t think whether you have or have not had kids is the only barometer for measuring whether you have become a woman.

Firstly, you have to go through your adolescent stage first, before you can emerge, phoenix-like, into woman-form. Look at me – I was the good girl for most of my life. Then I turned 23, landed in Brisbane, Australia, and took off my headscarf. And so began my late adolescence.

Secondly, you must have had some experience of dating and relationships, one full-blown relationship, at least. You just learn so much.

Thirdly, if you are paying and planning for your vacations by yourself, you are a woman. For you have decided to ignore your fear of traveling alone and go for what you deserve. Just because you are single, it doesn’t mean you can’t travel. All the more reason to, I say. As I write, I am planning a domestic trip to Broome, Western Australia, for my birthday, and a language-learning holiday to Europe next year.

Fourthly, you know what your weaknesses are, you know what the biggest mistakes of your life are, and you consciously decide not to repeat those mistakes.

Fifthly, you are saving up for your first property, or are at least thinking about it.

Lastly, you know that you are truly developing when people give you compliments that you never used to receive. It means you’ve broken your own stereotype. Some compliments that I’m receiving now, that I never received in my teens:

“You’re funny.” (my public speaking friends tell me)

“I just think you connect with people, so you should take on a people-heavy role.” (the president of one of my public speaking clubs told me this to persuade me to take on an executive role).

I do occasionally receive a reprimand:

“You are a stage dancer.” (a tango friend, after dancing with me).

“What? Why?”

“Because you like to do the ganchos and the boleos.” (Translation: You do fancy footwork all the time)

But overall, I feel like I am getting new compliments, breaking new ground…entering a new stage of life.

2 thoughts on “When does a girl become a woman?

  1. I definitely agree with you, there are certain things as a person you grow accustomed to, and as a young girl you get used to one type of compliment or comment and then I guess years of experience change you and boom: one day you’re getting you’re pretty and the next it’s “You should probably take over the world.” lol I mean I get that all the time.

  2. Hahaha. Well I’m not saying that if you haven’t done everything on this list, then you’re not a woman. But sometimes things happen at once and you just feel yourself grow…there’s a definite shift.

    I love how you describe the progression 🙂

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