You’re out on a first date with a guy, and everything seems to be going perfectly. He’s sweet, polite, and lends you his jacket when it starts getting a little chilly out. You’re enamored, he’s enamored, and the night just keeps getting better. Just as it seems he can do no wrong, he says it. The one thing that makes you pause and think, “Wait, what?” He turns to you, smiling, and then he opens his mouth and lets loose those five little words that cast a shadow on the whole evening: “You’re not like other girls.”
At first you take it as a compliment. You laugh demurely and tell him thanks. It isn’t until you get home later and replay the evening several times in your head that you realize just how wrong those five little words really are. “You’re not like other girls.” Not like other girls? What does that even mean?
In my experience, "not like other girls" is the phrase that misguided men use to compliment a girl when they really don't want to go out of their way to find and compliment an actual quality of the girl they're seeing. "Not like other girls" is a thinly-veiled dig at every other girl but the one on the receiving end this so-called "compliment." So why is not being like other girls considered a good thing?
After doing some less-than-scientific research, or asking around and polling my Facebook friends, I found a trend in what people think "not like other girls" means. Though there were a few who were very self-aware and responded that "not like other girls" is a superficial compliment, most others found it to mean that someone isn't catty, dramatic, or "basic". To that notion, I offer this concept:
There is no wrong way of being a girl.
Personally, I'd be glad to receive the compliment that I'm "like other girls." Girls are amazing, and I'm proud to be one. There's not one specific, acceptable way of being a girl, and when people use the phrase "not like other girls," it puts us all in a box and implies that certain types of girls are better than others because maybe they don't shop at certain stores or wear a full face of makeup every day.
Something else that I noticed was that a lot of the negative definitions of the phrase were given by women, which I was disappointed to see. "Not like other girls" pits us all against one another, and creates the illusion among us that we don't want to be like that girl just because she looks or acts a certain way. But what's wrong with that? What's wrong with having similarities between us?
Accepting the phrase "not like other girls" into our vernacular is admitting that certain ways of expressing yourself as a woman are inherently wrong. So I challenge every single person to respond to the classic "You're not like other girls" with this simple question: Why?
Addressing the issue at the root of it is the only way to change people's thinking. Maybe that one "why?" will make someone reevaluate the way they think about what it means to be a girl, and who these "other girls" truly are, beyond a way to measure a woman's character.