Separating the women from the girls: The exact moment you can no longer eat #girldinner or do #girlmaths.

Girls are cool and women are not.

That's true online in TikTok world, where Girl Maths and Girl Dinner obsess us, and we're prepping for a Hot Girl Summer and posting about our Hot Girl Walks while listening to Sad Girl Music.

It's true in an aspirational work world, where Girl Bosses have been around so long they've already been cancelled and resurrected. 

And it was true way back in the '90s when a group of grown women dressed up as different flavours of femininity and called it Girl Power. 

And, of course, it's true in our actual, real lives, where we will happily label any gatherings with our girlfriends (there I go again):

Girls' Night. 

Girls' Trip. 

Girls' Weekend. 

Substitute the word 'girl' for the word 'woman' in any of these contexts, and the vibe shifts. That sounds serious. Is that about... feminism? Will that be... depressing?

Hello, Girls. 

Yeah The Girls. 

Let's Go, Girls. 

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. 

See, girls are cool. Women are not. 

I don't mean to be a buzzkill. But let's be clear here, girls. 

In these zeitgeisty internet examples, there's a precise moment when your girl-dom ends and your womanhood begins, and it's not turning 18. It's the moment you leave behind a perceived frivolous freedom and start being responsible for other people. Which is a job women do – for free – and girls do not.

Are you still doing "girl maths" when you're working out the household food budget? Is it still "girl dinner" when you're cooking for a stretched tableful, every damn night? Nope, and nope.

Those things are boring and drudgey. Serious. Like being a woman.

And there is the clue as to why everything is suddenly being "girlified".


Being a grown-up woman with real-world, grown-up responsibilities is overrated.

"Girl maths" is a good time when you're justifying why you really, really need that new pair of shoes/dress/serum. It's not a good time when you're working out why your average Super payout is going to be a third that of the man sitting next to you at work.

It's not so funny that women do still earn 83 cents on a man's dollar, on average. Or that we pay out almost $10,000 on period products over our lifetimes. 

Or that everything from haircuts to razors to shoes will cost you more, because you are a #girl. 

It's not that much fun when you're contemplating why the women who just entertained and inspired us for four weeks straight at the Women's World Cup were awarded 34% of the prize money than the guys in the men's comp, despite the audience doubling since the last tournament.

I could go on, but it's grim and no-one likes it. 

Girls don't worry about this stuff. Apparently, they're busy breaking down the intricacies of how many times you'd have to carry a handbag to justify its cost.

Being a grown-up woman means having to confront the reality that if you have children it will most likely be your wage that will be earmarked against the cost of childcare. That it will be your salary that takes a hit as you negotiate part-time work. "Girl maths" becomes more and more complex as you try to work out what goes and stays on a budget that's shrinking at the exact moment it has to take care of more people.

But, hey. GIRL POWER.

It's no mystery why young women have reclaimed the word that sounds like the best parts of being female. But it's no coincidence that it's also the word that makes us small.

Feature image: Canva, Disney.

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