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Girlboss Gaslight Gabbie: There’s Gabbie & There’s GABRIELLA!

OPINION | COLUMN

Written & illustrated by Gabbie De Barron (she/they) | @gabizzlesizzle | Graphic Designer


Illustration by Chloe Bagayas (she/her) | @lilclodoodles | Contributing Artist


I’ve only recently realised that I might actually be a hot girl. Like an actual hot girl! Such a crazy concept, but it dawned on me during O-Week. I was watching over the Debate Stall, telling Liam how the amount of uni students out in the wild is so overstimulating, that I could actually cry – but I was mainly talking about the amount of straight dudes lurking about. Even when I started uni in 2019, I’d take the bus home and pass Grafton; I would shrink at the amount of high school boys that hop on the bus. These were sixteen year olds, and my nineteen-going-on-twenty ass would just sit there, quivering at the idea of having so many of these walking Lynx bottles ride the 75. I would just hop off and find a less bodysprayed bus. It’s an odd feeling; I feel scared that they’re there, but I also feel bad for taking up space, and I don’t want to be punished for taking up space. I don’t know how to explain it thoroughly, but I do know that I just shrink to the old, dweeby, insecure Gabbie that I was when I was twelve (I’m still a bit insecure now, just less dweeby) . 


I was a competitive swimmer growing up, and mean boys made up 70% of our team. Don’t get me wrong, some of them were great - but by ‘some’, I mean three. I really wanted them to see me as their equal, so they wouldn’t pick on me. They’d tell me that my body was too fat to be in a training bikini, hence, I should just stick to wearing a one piece. When I finally lost weight, they’d tell me I looked too muscular, that I wasn’t feminine looking; when I would wear the training bikini one of them even pinched my stomach just to make sure I knew the parts that I needed to work on. They even had the gall to make fun of my humour at times, like it’s me that wasn’t funny. Even now at twenty-four, standing at an O-Week stall - I felt like I warped back into the Gabbie that felt defeated by that. 


Before the stall was set-up, I went to the bathroom and gave myself a pep talk. I was really tired, and I left the house that morning feeling not great about how I looked. I was about to get my period, so I was bloated and my acne was exploding. As I washed my hands, I looked at myself in the mirror and something in me just clicked. I don’t know what happened but I feel like I was just possessed by a spirit of confidence that made me realise “you know what, I actually look so fucking cute.” My brows were brow-ing, my lip combo was actually perfect, and another girl told me she liked my skirt. A surge of ego just came over me, and I thought to myself: “How can I be scared of all these straight-boy-uni-students? I’m a woman with an amazing sense of humour, two degrees, and great tits – literally nothing stands in my way. I am the hot girl.”


I ended up making forceful eye contact with anyone who came by the stall and got them to sign up. There were about twenty sign ups for visual arts alone – I mean, I know that it’s probably because Debate pays its illustrators but you know what, it felt great! I went out of my comfort zone and talked to anyone and everyone. I did not break conversation and I did not quiver, not one bit. 


For the rest of the week, my emotional health and self-confidence was amazing. It was like I had a divine intervention - even if I would go to sleep angry, I would wake up the next day feeling better. An emotional reset. It’s actually been steady since that day – if I do feel anxious I just cry. How? An alter-ego. 


Beyonce once said that she used to be extremely shy growing up, so when she performs, she creates an alter ego named Sasha Fierce. She claimed that playing a character like Sasha would give her the confidence to perform the way she does, and the way she never thought she could, as a kid — like her Deja Vu performance at the 2006 BET Awards (honestly insane) But if you’re on YoncéTok at all, you know that Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé have merged. It’s great that she’s found comfort in her own self on the stage, and knows that we respect her as Beyoncé - not as Sasha Fierce. The idea of creating an alter-ego separate from who you currently are, is the next step to becoming who you want to be. There’s that little step you take, when you muster enough self-belief to know that you can play this “role” that’s slightly different from you. I’ve named mine Gabriella. Still a derivative of Gabbie or Gabrielle, but that just makes it easier for me to believe that I am Gabriella.


Gabriella gets shit done. “Shit” that Gabbie initially felt demotivated about because she has doddery self-belief. Gabriella is vulnerable and strong enough to cry in public. Gabriella also recognises her physical assets and understands that her full lips, almond eyes, big chest, and luscious hair help make the patriarchy work for her. She knows that she does not need to do so much if she can make a man’s ego do it for her! She recognises her intellect and her humour, her skillset and her achievements; she knows that even if she’s had help to build these (as no woman is an island), that it’s a fact that she has been able to harbour and achieve them. The best part is, Gabriella knows that she has space to take up – like her seat on the 75 –  and space to make, helping other Gabbies see themselves in their Gabriellas. 


So I’ve been Gabriella lately, and it’s been great. Which is why I wanted to write this guide in the first place. I don’t think I’m the only girl out there that needs to see themself as another being before they become them. So create your Gabriella, and internalise her. Understand what her assets are? What are your assets that you haven’t been able to say out loud? What are the fears you need to face? What’s the shit you need to get done? What’s stopping you from it? Tell yourself in the mirror! Because if a twenty-four year old and acne-ridden, low-self-esteem, socially-anxious Gabbie, can do it, I’m dead sure you can too. I mean, okay, you don’t have to have an alter-ego, you can just be the person you want to be, who you should be… but it’s easier said than done.’ve been on this earth for a bit more than two decades, and I’m only learning how to take up the space that's built for me, now. Before we make space for people, before we give up our seats on the bus, we must be able to know how we can stand on our own two feet.

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