by Nicole Plotkin
I was watching a show on Netflix, called Unbelievable. While I was crushing on Toni Collette, I said to my husband, “in case you didn’t know, I love her, she’s badass”. He looked at me and said, no she’s not. I said yes, she is. I realized he thought I meant badass, as in mean, or tough. Maybe I mean a little tough, but not a hard ass. That’s different. I think the term badass has come to mean different things, particularly for women.
I find myself increasingly admiring (my version of) “badass” women these days. I don’t care for a person that is “mean, violent or aggressive”. But the trusty internet provides other definitions of “badass”:
From an article in Psychology Today from 2010:
“A real badass is driven by values such as responsibility, justice, honor, courage, compassion, humility, integrity, and selflessness”.
“A badass is someone who does the dirty jobs, the jobs that other people don’t want to do…. A badass does what needs to be done, no matter how difficult it is, without complaint or need for fanfare. A badass doesn’t take the path of least resistance.”
Also, from the same article, and with which I completely disagree “Yes, girls can be badasses too (I use the word girls deliberately because I don’t think women want to be this sort of badass). A badass girl these days is beautiful (or thinks she is), has big breasts (likely augmented), is tanned (even in winter), wears stilettos (hurt me!), and is the grown-up version of the mean girls from high school”. Talk about a male fantasy version of a badass female!
The Urban Dictionary says:
“A badass stays true to themselves, always. This means being themselves for themselves, and not being fake to impress others. 4. A badass does not give up. Badasses will always push themselves for the better, no matter how hard it gets.” This is much closer to what I mean.”
Perhaps it’s because I often feel a bit stifled by my fears (repeating past mistakes/inadequacy in intellectual pursuits, heights, speed) that I admire people who seem to have it together). Even if it’s a smidgen of my day, I try to exhibit these traits where I can. What are these traits that I admire these days in women and consider badass?
- Seeming unafraid when asking for what they need, particularly at the office. When I see a woman who just exudes confidence, stating what they need, even when they are asking for something others might find unconventional, I am cheering inside. This type of woman often has a way of carrying herself that says, don’t look at my physical presence, listen to what I am saying.
- Also, a woman who shows her vulnerability – but still insists on respect her strengths. Being honest and sharing vulnerability is a great way to inspire others.
- Identifying an issue that needs to be dealt with and handling it. It might mean uncomfortable phone calls, or lending your scarcely available time, but it needs to be done. So, they do it.
- Celebrating their differences. The woman with the extremely wiry hair, who makes it even kinkier. The one with the curvaceous hips who accentuates them. The middle age woman who is unafraid of the creases appearing around her eyes and mouth.
- They say things out loud that flout boring clichés. They hear someone say men grow more handsome with age, but not women. They call bullshit. Tactfully, perhaps. But there’s no need to agree. They say that perhaps our ideas of what is handsome or beautiful is the problem, not an ageing woman.
- They do it anyway. They are told they should do things that are appropriate for their age – pull back, do less, wear more, tone it down – and they ignore them and do what they like. And then bench a PR at the gym.
- They cheer each other on – whether at the gym, or the office, or at school. They root for each other. And not just their cliques.
- They experience a setback, maybe with respect to fitness, and figure a way to work around it. Even if this means small, incremental gains. They are patient towards their goal.
- They show their true emotions. They know that being kind and authentic doesn’t mean being phony or smiling all the time. And if they are angry, they admit it – tactfully.
- A woman who insists on the time she needs to do the things that make her thrive – exercise, time with her friends, to get enough sleep – so she can be extra badass for her loved ones.
- She doesn’t feel the need to debate or argue if she doesn’t agree with someone. She may state what she believes, but she doesn’t need to convince someone else that they are wrong. She is content to know her own values.
- She challenges herself outside of her comfort zone – in a way that suits her – in the gym, that can mean doing 5 extra burpees on a day she wanted to stay in bed, or deadlifting 135 lbs on the day she thought she’d have to cut back because her back was tweaking. Maybe it means running 17.5 km on the day her training schedule suggested she do 16 km.
- She is kind to people – but will also not be taken advantage of or made to feel less than by anyone.
- She is constantly looking for ways to improve herself in her career and feel useful, whatever that may be.
Do you like the term “badass”? What does it mean to you?
Nicole Plotkin: law clerk, loves to exercise, eat good food, snuggle with her dogs, and her wonderful husband.