This blog entry might come off as a bit sassy, but I feel the urge to address something that has been bothering me.
Unfortunately, I was not raised in a rodeo family, and I didn't grow up with the privilege of having cattle out my back door. I've come to adore and appreciate the 'cowboy way' a little later on in life. My college education and internships transformed my city charm into a wilder country spirit. Although my heart has always been there, my clothes, activities and conversations have not always revolved around rodeo.
Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook are chock-full of groups focused on horses, cowgirl style and western decor. Often, I run across memes or hashtags that attack city girls for having an interest in the cowgirl lifestyle. How dare they desire a horse, or wish to date a cowboy? According to some social media pages, you have to be born into the rodeo world and if you aren't, you're out of luck. It's a secret club, and the password involves having 'real' cowboy boots.
"What buckle-bunnies look like to real cowgirls," read one meme on Facebook with a photo of a man dressed in a crop top, cut-off jeans and a straw cowgirl hat.
We get it, they aren't "real" cowgirls. In my opinion, if you make fun of that girl who envies your lifestyle, how does that make you any better? Does making fun of someone else improve your riding or shave seconds off your arena time? I didn't think so.
Since when were cowgirls defined by the clothes they wear? It doesn't matter if you have on Miss Me jeans or Wranglers. Your actions are what define you, not what label is on your jean pockets. I'm pretty sure that the cowboys you're trying to save from the ever present buckle-bunny at the rodeo are fully aware those girls don't know how to saddle a horse. Rather than snickering at her fashion, you should gather your horse and be the classy cowgirl she admires. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery.
The girl who got dressed up in her "cowgirl" attire to attend her first rodeo is the perfect opportunity to share what you love with her. Who cares if they are into rodeo because of the fashion and pretty horses. She might ask questions about team roping or the difference between bareback and saddle bronc riding. If you share your rodeo addiction with this girl, that's the easiest way to advocate for agriculture. If HSUS were to put something on the ballot to remove the right to own horses, wouldn't you want this flannel tied-up t-shirt girl on your side? Don't miss the opportunity to educate her because you deem her unworthy of spurs or a bling-ed out belt.
When I think back to the first rodeo I ever attended, I was in awe of the hustle and grit that it took to compete. I was intrigued with the horses, fashion but overall the athletic ability of the cowboys and cowgirls in the arena. I was wearing a leased outfit from my barrel-racing friend. Borrowed cowboy boots, a turquoise cross necklace and a tank top. I'm sure I looked like a wanna-be cowgirl who had never been on the back of a horse. I chatted with her the entire rodeo. She expanded on the rules of every event. It only took one night and I was hooked.
I'm thankful for her friendship and her willingness to teach a city-girl like me about rodeo. She allowed me to step into a world I had only read about or watched in movies.
So don't count out that girl that has on pristine fake cowboy boots and cutoff shorts. If she has the drive, opportunity and education, she has the potential to become a force to be reckoned with and maybe even one of your biggest supporters. It won't be easy for her, and she will have to work twice as hard to get to where you are, simply because she's had a late start. I'm not saying every wanna-be cowgirl at the rodeo will appreciate your helping hand or kind advice. Maybe she is only there to watch the "baby cows," or get a date with a bullrider. I still think it's worth a shot.
Six years ago, I was learning the difference between a steer and a heifer with borrowed cowboy boots on my feet. Today, I've got a platform for promoting farmers, ranchers and cowboys. I no longer have to borrow my boots. I've earned them.
Watch out, this once wanna-be cowgirl is going places.
Contact Michaela Leimkuehlerat firstname.lastname@example.org