Good girl gone bad. It’s not a new saying. The phrase itself has been around for as long as I can remember. Most people use the "good girl gone bad" expression to describe a woman or a girl who was seemingly a "good girl" but then turns bad. We have seen this several times with celebrities like Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna and, most recently, Chloe Bailey.
I know plenty of us probably saw it in our towns and schools — or maybe it was you. We saw girls who were considered to be the smart and quiet good girl for years. Suddenly, she seemingly came out of her shell and started to dress and act differently. Maybe she started wearing tight clothes, shirts with cleavage showing or crop tops. Or perhaps she started dating, or someone heard she was having sex. She’s no longer quiet and timid, but outgoing and having fun.
This change is usually when the stereotype comes into play. It has nothing to do with sexualization. If we’re honest, most girls are sexualized as soon as our bodies start to develop and curves begin to show up.
“Good girl gone bad” is outdated and needs to be forgotten. There are no set guidelines for what or who is a good girl or bad girl. Is it even a real thing? Haven’t we moved past the need to coin a woman or girl “good” or “bad”?
Good vs. Bad Qualities
What is a good girl? I searched for what people thought were some good girl qualities. The results came back with descriptions such as innocent, passive, compliant, honest, positive, loyal, demure, nice, sweet, non-confrontational, low maintenance, virgin, uplifting, smart and not overconfident. Then I searched for the bad girl qualities. Some results were confident, blunt, independent, funny, wears makeup and heels. Also, a bad girl would be fierce, nonconforming, flirtatious and a rebel. She drinks and she's sexy.
One thing that stood out was the bad girl qualities listed almost entirely had to do with appearance. But bad girl qualities seem to directly correlate with what tends to happen as people get older and explore. As a woman, we start to wear heels and experiment with makeup. We begin to express our individuality instead of conforming to the norms.
The moment a girl is deemed “bad,” she can longer explore the world innocently. She can't go through several relationships but also be a virgin. This way of thinking is harmful to women and girls everywhere. Can we get past this way of thinking, that women are one-dimensional beings who are either shy and sweet, or wild and sexy?
Is It Real?
Is being a good girl that seemingly goes bad a real thing? I would say no. The idea in itself that you stop being smart and honest to become sexy and confident is flawed. It is based on the idea that we can’t be more than one way. That is a one-dimensional concept placed upon multi-dimensional beings.
We are not, nor will we ever be, one-dimensional. Being one-dimensional means, we lack depth and are unable to change. That only happens in cartoons and bad books. We are all multi-dimensional; we are beautiful and complex individuals. We all have our own ideas, beliefs, emotions, traumas and experiences that make up who we are. Not one person is the same. We can be more than a blanket statement of being good or bad. It’s a hindrance for women and girls when exploring themselves and their individuality.
Are We Past This?
We are in a day and age where we can be confident, fierce, loyal and honest all at once. But the problem seems to be the long since established ideas and social constructs. We are now challenging the status quo by being open on social media about liking to read, but also enjoying twerking. We are changing the forced concepts that have been plaguing society for too long.
We are not only displaying creativity and individuality. We are also showing that we can be beautiful, confident and sexy, while also smart, positive and uplifting. There is no one size fits all women. Why are we still imposing this superficial model of a good girl or bad girl in 2021? We have moved past this. The stragglers in the back need to catch up.
We are not changing who we are to become completely different people. We are not good girls suddenly going bad because we start wearing makeup and sexier clothes. We are not going bad, but rather growing up and exploring.
Who you are at 23 will not be the same at 25, or even 30. We are ever-changing. We grow and learn every day of our lives.
I do not think there is a set of qualities that will make any woman a good girl or bad girl, because after a certain age, we are no longer girls but women. We are beautiful, complex, multilayered, multi-dimensional beings. When do we stop imposing stereotypes on ourselves and others and start being who we are?
You do not have to accept being good or bad. Just be you and let everything else fall where it may. But keep evolving and become the best you can be — and it will always be good.