"Just a Girl" is a song written by Gwen Stefani and Tom Dumont for No Doubt's third album Tragic Kingdom (album). The song was released in 1995 as the album's lead single and helped the band break into mainstream music, peaking at number twenty-three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
Upon release in the UK in 1996 the song only reached #38. However, after the massive success of Don't Speak the song was re-released and managed a peak of #3.
"Just a Girl" was first aired on Californian radio show Ska Parade. It was also featured in the movie Clueless and the opening credits of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.
After Eric Stefani left No Doubt in 1994, his sister Gwen Stefani took on the role of songwriter, which dramatically changed the band's musical style. Tragic Kingdom was the first album on which Gwen Stefani had written most of the material and there were claims that the band had "sold out" - dropped their own style to pick up a more popular one in order to make more money. Tom Dumont explained the change of style in an interview with Backstage Online:
" This album was our first attempt [to write simpler music]. It was Gwen's first time really writing all the lyrics herself so to me, it went the opposite from selling out we have done something that is even more personal. In the past, Eric was writing songs about his life and having Gwen sing them. Now we have Gwen singing and writing about her own experiences. It makes it more natural. She's a singer, she should sing about herself or sing what she wants to sing. I think that is the main reason why our musical style has changed. "
The song itself is written about Gwen Stefani's exasperation over female stereotypes, portraying women as weak and in need of a man to look after them. This is evident from lyrics such as "Don't you think I know / Exactly where I stand? / This world is forcing me / To hold your hand." She explained her inspiration in an interview for BAM Magazine:
"I wrote that because my dad got mad at me for going to Tony [Kanal, No Doubt bassist]'s house and driving home late at night. I mean, c'mon, I'm, like, going on 30 here! I wouldn't trade [being female], but I really don't think guys understand what a burden it can be sometimes."