Column: A gift for a girl


Photo credit: Azel Al-Kadiri

Society has taught girls to keep their voices and desires to themselves. This holiday season and every day, it’s essential that women speak up and communicate their needs.

By Azel Al-Kadiri, Columnist

There’s a brisk chill in the air, my summer tan is a distant memory and finals week is starting to haunt my calendar. This means one thing and one thing only: the holiday season has begun. 

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when we fork over our wallets and make one too many candle purchases. How many have you bought already? As someone who celebrates Christmas,  I have started the annual mental ping-pong game of guessing what my mother will want to open on the twenty-fifth.  

My mother is one of many women in my life who I struggle to shop for. I usually walk through the mall aimlessly, battling through the festive aisles of junk. It’s never easy, and don’t even get me started on what I’ll get my girlfriends — they are simply impossible. Where is Santa Claus when you need him? I too have been told by many that I’m “hard to shop for.”  

Why are women told this so often?

I had a wonderful and privileged childhood, and as a kid, I was lucky enough to spend the holiday seasons of my youth crafting what was once the highlight of my year: my Christmas list. I remember those epic pieces of paper like it was yesterday. The bright pink cardstock paper was packed to the brim with rows of toys, clothes and products that my little girl self could no longer live without. 

Like many kids, I wasn’t shy about what I wanted under the tree. I knew the elves in the North Pole had a lot on their plates, but they were simply going to have to get to work. Barbie was a top priority. 

This way of life, of course, didn’t last long. As we grew up we realized that our parents weren’t made of money and that it wasn’t necessarily “polite” to demand a list of materialistic items. After all, I was bored with the invisible ink diary by New Year’s Day. 

I think I speak for a lot of girls when I recall the holiday season a few years back when things started to feel different. The transition from the doll to the makeup product was a natural turn of events, but how about the year when you felt ridiculous for asking for anything at all?

One of the many joys of becoming a woman is the instinct to shrink yourself into the smallest of balls. The feeling of rejecting your existence, and hiding behind the quiet, simple smile that you think will make the least noise. 

After begging for the pink purse and the bedazzled high tops that could be seen from a mile away, we started hearing the word “girly” as an insult and feeling embarrassed by any object that was remotely feminine. 

While our brothers continued to ask for the newest video games and basketballs, the interests of us girls became a source of shame. The bright nail polish and the hair products suddenly felt very silly. 

If you’re a girl who’s been asked what you want for the holidays, you’ve most likely said the words: “I don’t need anything.”

Maybe that’s the truth. I sure know that there are little to no physical items I need to add to my junk closet, and my years of unboxing toys are far behind me. However, there is something to be said about the way women react to the inquisition of a material object or gift.

 The concept of being “shopped for” often leaves us guilty and uncomfortable. 

I believe that under the sea of picky moms and friends that are “hard to shop for,” there is a little girl in all of us who, in fact, knows exactly what she wants.  

Like many of our wishes, the physical desires of women are naturally suppressed by the fear of being judged by men. While men are deemed strong for communicating their desires, women are considered rude for doing the same. The impulse to be content is deeply embedded in women. The pattern feels completely unbreakable, but we owe it to ourselves to advocate for our necessities, dreams, and desires. 

It’s only fair. Men do it every day. 

Ladies, be honest about what you want under the tree and in life. Or else you will receive a lifetime’s worth of candles.  

Happy holidays!