We always see depictions of the “perfect girl” in movies, television, books, and just about everywhere else. She’s not like the other girls — she wears minimal and/or no makeup, wakes up looking perfect because she is just too cool to care about something as silly as looks. She likes sports, she loves a good beer, and she will always hang out with the guys because, as many before her have put it, “girls are just too much drama.”
So many fictional and real-life girls pride themselves on being above the rest of the girls out there, stating that every other woman on the planet belongs to a vain, shallow, catty monolith. This is not only entirely false, but extremely toxic. For one, not every woman is entirely feminine in every facet of her personality. In fact, almost no woman is feminine through-and-through. Every person possesses some traditionally feminine and masculine traits (some more than others), and that is completely okay.
The reason why the feminine monolith for “other girls” is problematic has a lot to do with the way in which women are often portrayed as a part of it. Rarely do we see hyper-feminine characters that aren’t mean, catty, and usually dim-witted. Movies like Mean Girls and even the High School Musical franchise are perfect examples of this. The hyper-feminine characters are unintelligent, vain, and tend to travel in exclusive cliques. The protagonist, however, dressing slightly more drab and donning slightly less lip-gloss, is portrayed as smart, down-to-earth, and is most often a loner or surrounded by one or more friendly male counterparts. The non-hyper-feminine characters are also usually the only female characters with any dimension.
These protagonist characters are marketed as “different” and an “outsider” while simultaneously being the only relatable female character in a cast where the rest (who happen to be doused in pink) are given very little depth. Coincidence?
It’s all part of a much larger game. Femininity has always been associated with weakness and unintelligence. It would make sense for entirely feminine characters to be marketed to match the long-standing stereotypes. Only it doesn’t make sense. Not anymore. We’ve been able to establish (for the most part) that women are capable and intelligent, so we should, in theory, be able to dismantle the association between femininity and all of the negative stereotypes that we so often see. However, in order to do so, we as women must recognize the situation for what it is.
“I’m not like other girls” should no longer be something to say with pride, or sense for that matter. We as women cannot expect to be taken seriously as a whole whilst continuously tearing one another down for individual praise. “Other girls” is not a phrase to say in truth because women are all different. We come in all different shapes, colors, sizes, interests, and personalities. It doesn’t matter if you drink a cosmopolitan in high heels and false lashes. It doesn’t matter if you drink a beer in converse and a bare face. Neither one makes you any smarter, nicer, or down-to-earth. That all depends on what’s inside your brain.
Jamie Kahn is a writer and vocalist for the feminist hardcore band Fatale. Her poetry has been featured in many publications, including Maudlin House, PDXX Collective, and Donut Factory. She has written for Thought Catalog and is best friends with her cat.