Ask me, though, and I'll self-identify as a girl. Sometimes a lady, under certain circumstances. I was called a dame once and found it most entertaining. But generally, it's "girl"--and almost never "woman."
I don't know what it is about "woman" that doesn't sit right with me. It's not that I'm not a female of the species who presents as such. It's not even that I don't consider myself an adult, although my standards for real adulthood tend to differ from those of people who usually don't wear feather earrings to the office. And it's not that I cling to girly-girlness--I do love a brand-new hairdo, but I despise pink, ruffles, "princess," "diva," French provincial, and non-ironic marabou. So maybe I'm not exactly a girl. But I feel I'm not yet a woman.
Karen Duffy would take issue with that--"girl" is a pet peeve of hers. She writes,
I cringe when I hear the women from "The Real Housewives" accuse their cast mates of acting like "mean girls." Sure, the dames on reality television are cruel, narcissistic and self-absorbed (and I love every minute of it), but girls? For these women, girlhood was more than 30 years ago.A not-unreasonable observation. There's definitely a disconnect between "girl" and "housewife," and it's odd to think of someone as a "girl" when she herself has given birth to several of them. But the real concern seems to be not that they're identifying as girls but that they're acting like them. I can't say I've actually seen any of the "Real Housewives" shows myself (and I'm okay with that), but they, like pretty much all other reality TV these days, seem to be heavy on the gossiping, plotting, snubbing, sniping, and backstabbing that we all should have gotten over in high school.