2010. Summer vacation. Dark outside. I’m pulling myself over the gate at the condo’s pool, giggling as my friend wiggles under it. We
splash loudly slip into the dark, ominous water, despite the signs that say that it’s against the rules. A manager turns on a light and yells at us, ushering us to leave. We scamper out and run to my family’s rented condo.
2014. Sophomore year of college. Friday afternoon. “Hoop,” I say,
slightly nervous that this will look really stupid very sure of myself and my decision, to the woman at the counter. I’m ushered into a bright room, and a needle is pushed through my ear. My roommate is next. The pain is numbed only by our excitement about getting our cartilages pierced.
All of my life, I’ve been told that I’m the good girl. I’m the girl who watches “Once Upon A Time” on Friday nights, who paints motivational quotes to hang on her walls and who bakes cookies for her housemates on a weekly basis.
Girls aren’t all good, though, 5SOS sings. They’re interesting, complex beings who study at the library and apply to Harvard (or UF), but then they sneak out of their rooms to meet their boyfriends, according to the band’s popular song “Good Girls.”
“She said to me, ‘Forget what you thought, ’cause good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught,'” the band sings.
Tangled in between the definitions of a “good girl” and a “bad girl,” Samantha Suprenant, a UF English freshman, experiments with her appearance, studies French and makes friends with everyone. She’s sweet and soft-spoken, despite her colored hair that loudly calls for attention.
“I think I’m somewhere in between,” explains Sam of her place on the good-bad spectrum. She’s not completely bad, but she’s not perfect either. The 19-year-old doesn’t think it’s possible to be absolutely good or absolutely bad because people are much more complicated.
“I don’t think anyone really reaches the ideal good girl or the bad girl,” Sam said.
Since this summer, Sam has dyed her hair four unnatural colors. From purple to pink, then from blue (her favorite) to green, Sam is essentially the epitome of 5SOS’s catchy song — a girl with academic aspirations who decides to play a wild card (usually in the form of Manic Panic hair dye) every once in a while.
“I’m actually a redhead, so everyone, like, my whole life has been like, ‘Oh, people would die for that color hair, and don’t you ever dye it,’” Sam said. “Like, just [because it’s] something I shouldn’t do, I felt like I needed to do it.”
With her fruit-colored pixie cut, Sam has been called “quirky” by her friends. Others have stopped her to make harsher, more derogatory comments, though, and Sam doesn’t know why.
“It’s funny because people, like, stop to say mean things more than they stop to say nice things,” Sam said.
Highlighter hair colors aren’t the norm, but it doesn’t hurt anyone.
It isn’t like hair dye comes in little tubs that, when opened, release millions of baby Godzillas that purposely wreak havoc on innocent bystanders. It doesn’t actually affect anyone but Sam, and this feels natural to her. Those who judge her based on her easily re-dyed hair color objectify one facet of her, Sam said. That physical facet (usually her hair color), rather than her personality, becomes a kind of persona that is largely unfair and inaccurate.
“I feel like because it goes against social standards, they see it as rebellious, but social standards are silly to me,” Sam said.
I, too, have had unnaturally-colored hair. My goal was to
look like a My Little Pony do something uncharacteristically rebellious. Now, only a few months later, I have an extra hole in my ear, which has labled me as “hardcore,” “bada##” and, my personal favorite, “crazy.” Perhaps this is a result of my “rebellious” activities contrasting against my southern/elderly person vernacular; I frequently say “dadgumit,” “y’all,” and “oh my goodness.”
Still, it seems like some people just think that my roommate and piercing buddy, Pamela Inglett, a biology sophomore at UF, and I are bad girls on the outside and good girls on the inside. It’s like girls with tattoos, piercings, fun hair and fishnets (typical bad gal attire, according to Sam) are little Wonder Ball surprises. Will you end up discovering that they jam out to the JoBros on the daily, or will you find that they rock out to heavy metal garage bands? Arguably, “good girls” and those who might be slightly basic, might appear totally “normal,” but we don’t know what happens behind closed doors, Pam said.
What would influence a self-described serious girl, one who cares about her studies and her future plans, like Pam to get a piercing?
“My roommate’s a bad influence on me,” Pam said, as if I wasn’t the one interviewing her. “She encouraged me to do it. I’ve been thinking about it for a few years but never really had the guts to go and do it.”
According to Pam, there are two types of people to get the so-called bad-girl piercings.
“There’s the people, kind of like me and my roommate, where you kind of just want to get one,” she said. “You want to try it out, see what it’s like, because you think it will look cute. Then there’s the people who piercings become their, I don’t want to say ‘persona,’ but, like, it shapes how they look. They’ll get one and get multiple after that.”
Pam said that she grew up like I did, always being told that she was the good girl. Both Sam and Pam don’t want to be considered good girls because those that are don’t seem to forge their own paths.
“She does everything she’s told or what society wants from her,” Pam said of the good girl. “She gets married, has kids probably, you know, if that’s what her parents want, gets a job right off the bat, doesn’t linger thinking about what she wants too much, just does what she’s told.”
Unlike the pristine, stereotypical good girl, though, Pam is inclined to get a tattoo of a turtle on her foot, not because it has a special significance but because “it would be super-cute.”
Girls have to think about their image much more than guys do, Sam said. Whereas bad boys and good guys may partake in the same activities, girls that get tattoos and piercings quickly become a different kind of girl. Boys, on the other hand, can ride motorcycles to prove that they’re “bad” or go to church regularly to prove their wholesomeness. Outside of that, they can do as they please without the same amount of pressure that is placed on girls.
Bad girls are “free spirits,” Sam said. Pam had similar sentiments, noting that a bad girl “does what she wants.”
Still, the connotations for being a bad girl are inherently promiscuous and overtly sexual, Pam explained. Bad boys, however, are just hot. They’re not the boys you’d want to marry, but they’re fun to be around. Pam tells the story of her first bad boy crush:
There was this boy in middle school, and he was in my art class. And in art class, I kinda screwed around because every other class was serious, and I actually took them seriously and wanted to do my work right. But art class, I wasn’t going to be good at it and didn’t care about being good at it. And so he was in this class, and he was just kind of mouthy and never really did what he was told. He was nice. He had a great personality. He got along with the teacher, but he still, he didn’t do things traditionally. I know one time we made pottery, like artwork, the clay that you put in the kiln, and I put a little heart on the top of my box. And it had fused to the box in the kiln, and I was trying to get it off because I didn’t like it anymore. And so I had, like, scissors to it. And he was like, ‘Do you need help?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah. I do.’ So he took the scissors, and, in one shot, he ripped the heart off. And I was like, ‘Ah. So hot.’
In the end, girls border the line between being good and bad much more easily than boys do, which is why Pam said that I’m simultaneously “kind of fiery” and “teacher’s pet-ish.”
The tiny hoop on my left ear, the pieces of bleached hair from this summer’s dyeing adventure and my reckless abandon when it comes to swimming after dusk in public pools don’t make me unique. Instead, they contribute to my long story of having just a smidgen of “bad” mixed in with the good.
And there are plenty other girls just like me.
“You can never ‘not fit in’ in Gainesville,” Sam said. “Whereas, I’m from, like, a smaller town, an Amish-central town, so having the green hair, I stand out so much. But, like, here, I know, like, five people who have blue hair.”
My piercing throws me into the batch of hundreds of students who have the same spot punctured. It serves as a (slightly painful and throbbing) reminder that people are much more complicated than they might appear.
Before you judge the next good or bad girl, remember that “good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught.”
The photo of my piercing was taken by Pam. All other photos were taken by me.