50 Ways to be a Person

red heels

So Caitlin Leggett wrote a piece titled “50 Ways to be a Woman.” Here’s my reaction. Warning: there is a lot of swearing.

1. Practice whatever grooming habits that feels right to you and keeps you feeling good and healthy. Sensitive skin? Don’t fucking care about shaving? Whatevs! Being a person isn’t about conforming to what American culture says about the state of our pits, crotch, and legs.

2. Dress however you want. Horizontal stripes? Rock ’em. Booty shorts and cropped tops? Leather mini skirts and fishnets? If you feel good, wear it! Being a person means that you get to choose what clothes you wear. You can pay attention to social context, jeans at the opera and a bikini to a job interview might not be the most appropriate thing to wear for that, but you do what you want.

3. There’s no such thing as “timeless fashion staples.” Buy the clothes you like, and if they’re not “in style,” well, “fashion” is nothing more than a cultural construct, and you can change that.

4. If someone did something nice for you, say thank you. Being a person means being polite when the occasion calls for it. If you’re the kind of person that likes saying “thank you” through the mail, do that. Text and e-mail work, too.

5. Being a decent person means trying to do something good for your world. Have a mental illness or physical condition that means you can’t leave your house? No worries! Every little bit counts, including simply loving the people in your life.

6. Sadly, being a person means that we’re going to have to spend money. Learning how to keep track of it …. might not be a bad idea.

7. Give a giant fuck-you to the people who want to shut you up.

8. Have a stance on something but you encounter someone that says that your stance is hurting them? Take the time to re-examine it. Be flexible, but honest.

9. Want an education? Awesome! Want to go to college? Just as awesome! Think that college is a complete waste of time or you don’t like the idea of a $100,000 debt or simply couldn’t afford it? That is awesome, too.

10. Like drinking and getting wasted with your friends and don’t give a shit about the judgy people who think you shouldn’t drink? More power to you. Being a person means you get to decide what you do in your own damn time.

11. Wear whatever fucking shoes you want. Walk in them however you fucking want.

12. Know how you want to be treated, and don’t tolerate people who’d treat you like shit. If you want doors held open for you? That’s great. Tell the person you’d like to do that for you, and see what they think. Don’t like the idea of having your chair held out for you? Who cares? Oh, right. Judgy people.

13. Do what you have to in order to take care of yourself. Trust is a worthy risk, but if you trust someone and they hurt you? Not your fault. They’re the dick. You’re the decent person who trusted someone not to be a dick.

14. Handle confrontation however you need to in order to remain healthy. Need to rant and rage because there are some seriously fucked up things in your life? Go right ahead.

15. Use social media however you fucking want. Your bosses (or future bosses) might be super-judgy people, so there’s that.

16. People need help sometimes.

17. Talk on the phone however you and the person you’re talking to would like.

18. People should be nice.

19. Your faith journey is your own. It can be shaken, and doubt is ok.

20. Blatantly defy gender norms for sport. Because that shit is fucking awesome.

21. People should be good losers when the defeat is justified. If you’re being beaten down by an oppressor, don’t put up with that shit.

22. Be whoever you want to be. If you’re being honest with yourself about who you are, it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks about it. Unless you’re an ass. Don’t be an ass.

23. Know what you’d like in a partner, or if you even want one.

24. You’re awesome.

25. Sit however you fucking want.

26. Have whatever standards you want. If they need to be adjusted, adjust them.

27. Do what you want with your time. What you like to do will probably change over time.

28. Follow the laws of your country. Break other rules if you feel like it.

29. Don’t lie about people, and try to be nice. People should be nice.

30. Being a person is enough for you and anyone else.

31. If you think college might be a good place to find your partner and you’d like a partner, do it. Also think about getting an education while you’re spending all that money.

32. Outwardly reject society’s conventions of your gender if they differ from your personal convictions and identity. 

33. People are going to say things about you. If it’s shit, ignore it. 

34. Laugh if you want to. Don’t feel like it? Don’t do it.

35. Find beauty if you can. If it’s not something you have the strength to force yourself to do today, then don’t.

36. Try to be happy if can, and fuck anyone who thinks being ‘attractive’ matters.

37. Take care of yourself.

38. You get to decide what you want to do with your life based on your opportunities and abilities, because reality is a bitch sometimes.

39. Ditto.

40. Respect your fellow people. 

41. Do not feel ashamed of your gender identity. Present your gender however you fucking want.

42. Do things for yourself when you can. Don’t be ashamed to not know how to do something.

43. Money, is sadly, hugely important in America. Pay attention to it.

44. Do not be afraid to say no. Or yes.

45. Do not blame yourself if you are manipulated by someone. They’re the asshole who manipulated you. Now you know they’ll do that to you.

46. Become an advocate for other people, including women, trans people, LGB people, disabled, and people of color.

47. If someone makes you feel inferior, they’re an ass. Don’t be ashamed for feeling put-down. You are entitled to your feelings.

48. Be a decent human being.

49. Things change.

50. Respect yourself, whatever that looks like. If it means ignoring this list, then that’s what you need to do.

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  • Kristi

    I couldn’t even get halfway through Caitlin Leggett’s list without slamming my laptop shut, so thank you for this (much better and realistic) list!

    • Hattie

      I’m late to this party but.. same here Kristi. I couldn’t make it all the way through Caitlin’s list either.

      I think one of the reasons it bothered me, and why I appreciated Samantha’s response to it so much, is because I used to be so BOUND by the kind of ideas Caitlin’s pushing. (Christian Charm books, anyone?)

      Caitlin should know that Miss Manners herself once mentioned how she’s a feminist…

  • 🙂 This is awesome.

  • Your list makes glad to be a human being. 🙂

  • “Allow men the indulgence of being men ”

    Um… what does this even mean? Last I checked, I’m a man all the time. I don’t transform into a gelatinous blob around women.

    • Much lolz.

      • Vega… you mean you don’t become a woman every full moon? Are you saying that’s NOT normal?

      • Hattie


  • Adele

    I like your list a lot. Very empowering! Thanks for sharing.

  • Elmo

    Mahvelous, simply Mahvelous!

  • J. Rachel

    sigh… nice response to one more piece (and discussion) that makes me want to move to a deserted island because I am nauseous over the continued politicization of (women’s) selves (& bodies)…

    on this island, the birds, like most birds (?), will only CAW to alert each other to another species’ presence… they will not notice if I have not scraped off my armpit hairs with a sharp rock… and if my berry juice face paint runs, well, they won’t notice that either. I will still be a person they must reckon with… lol. Grrrl power… woman power… people power… grows from love…

  • Reblogged this on Adventures in Mommyland and commented:
    Absolutely brilliant! This is the best response I’ve seen to that horrible “50 Ways to be a Woman” piece that’s been floating around.

  • Aibird

    Your list is the best thing I read all day! Thanks for it.

  • Sarah S


  • So much better than the original. I hadn’t seen the list until this post but it pissed me off that it says things like “no one wants to see a woman who can’t walk in high heels” or “you’re not expected to change your own tires.” UGH. Thanks patriarchy!

  • Didn’t read the other list, this list though it gets a huge ‘oh hell yes’.

  • Advise like “learn how to balance a checkbook” and “get an education” make sense, but those are things everyone, not just women should do, but then when she throws in advise about what kind of shoes a woman should wear, or “sit down and be a woman so a man will be a man” is just sexist as abyss and totally contradictory. Your list is much, much better.

    • Don’t forget that it’s “SIT DOWN and be a woman so a man will STAND UP and be a man.” I think that quote right there is one of the best ones of illustrating how much twisting people have to go through to make strict gender roles make sense. Especially when she later says it’s okay to “stand up for yourself” and “put yourself first”. Remember, you can stand up for yourself and put yourself first AS LONG as you’re sitting down in the presence of men and put them first. Because reasons.


      Thanks for the much better list.

      • Very true. The original list just reenforces the whole idea that women need to be subservient and keep them selves lower than men. I will stand when I bloody want to, and if a man can’t “Stand up and be a man” with me standing there too, then he’s the one with the issues

  • Advice on how to be “ladylike” grates on my nerves. I’m not a lady. That originated as a title of nobility. No one in my family has ever been a lady, or is ever likely to be. I am not interested in playacting some outdated, upper-class idea of womanhood.

  • “Wear whatever fucking shoes you want. Walk in them however you fucking want.”

    I love this one. Me, my flat feet and flat sandals are going places!

    (although I’m getting some new badminton shoes so I don’t wreck my ankles completely)

  • Kate

    “You’re not expected to change your own tires, but you should be able to pump your own gas.”

    (a) an able-bodied person with a driver’s license who can’t pump zir own gas loses all grown-up points

    (b) I never, ever want to be the lady who stands around helplessly waiting for some muscular man to come change her tire. I want to be the woman who pulls over, pops the trunk, and gets that shit done. (…which reminds me, I need to learn how to change a tire.)

    • Lefty loosy, righty tighty. Between that, duct tape, and WD40 you can fix just about anything. I am kind of a mechanical idiot. If I can change a tire, ANYONE can. 2 of those three can be handy for tire changes.

      The only part that can be tough is busting them nuts. (No way to not make that sound gross, sorry, lol.) If the tires have been put on with an airgun, which they probably have, that can be tough to do by hand. If you get a breaker bar though, it slips over the end of the regular thingamajig (sorry … you know, the doohickey) and will get the job done. Most trunks already have automatically the thingamajig/doohickey, a jack, and a spare of some kind, so the only thing you might need to get in addition is a breaker bar.

      • The only other tricky part (or at least tricky for me, anyway) is figuring out where to stick the jack. On most newer cars, you have to put it in a specific place on the frame. There’s usually a notch of some kind and a diagram on the jack.

    • Jackalope

      Learning to change a tire isn’t that difficult, although it’s kind of a pain to get done by yourself (at least when you haven’t done it that often and it takes awhile to get everything into place). I’ve done it together with other people, but never entirely by myself (but I’ve done all of the different bits needed to get it done).

      On the other hand, I spend more time on my bike, and I can get my bike tire off, get the inner tube patched (if I’m at home with a bathtub handy [if not I wait to fix it until I have a convenient bathtub to find the leaky spot]), put it back on, and get everything fixed back up within 30 minutes. Which isn’t super fast but it’s a short enough time that I only miss one bus.

  • Patrick Prescott

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but to sum up the points it come down to do your own thing, but be nice about it. Sounds good.

  • Emma

    This is wonderful… so wonderful! I am printing this and putting it up somewhere in my place.

  • I couldn’t get through either list…

  • wanderer

    Yeah her list was crazy-ridiculous….. and then I saw that she’s a fucking FRESHMAN in COLLEGE!!!!!! Bwahahahahahahahaha…. ok honey, come back with your advice in about 50 years.

  • Amen to that.

  • 50 Ways to be a Woman: 1-50. Wake up every morning and love yourself.

  • I like this. Thank you.