If you’ve ever read a teen fiction novel or watched a young adult movie, chances are you’ve encountered this phrase. Maybe you’ve even come face to face with it by saying it yourself or hearing a friend say it. What most people don’t realize is that the phrase “I’m not like most girls” is detrimental to the female gender as a whole, especially to girly-girls. One of my friends is a girly, makeup-loving person, and she has had to deal with the accompanying stereotype time and time again. People (even girls!) have made fun of her for liking the color pink and always making sure her hair is done, but this shows nothing about her personality. She’s ridiculously sweet and caring and doesn’t merit any stereotyping that makes her out to be dumb or a bully just because she likes makeup and pink. Unnecessary stereotyping is enforced by this one phrase: “I’m not like most girls.” Here are some of the main reasons why this phrase needs to be thrown out ASAP.
1. Of course you’re not like other girls; every girl is unique.
It’s glaringly obvious that you are not the same kind of girl, nor do you like the same things as every other girl out there. But in the same vein, every other girl out there doesn’t like the same things as you do. Every girl has their own personality to share with the world. Maybe one girl likes painting and having artistic Instagram captions. Maybe another girl likes playing basketball and watching “The Matrix.” Who knows? Every single person is unique, so it’s a given that you’re not like other girls.
2. It’s inaccurate of the phrase to express that every girl except you is a stereotypical “girly-girl.”
The most inaccurate part of this phrase, however, is thinking that you are the only “non-girly” female. Like I said before, some girls may be artsy or sporty or nerdy! But even if a girl is “girly,” it’s just another dimension of her complex personality, and that shouldn’t matter.
3.There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being “girly."
Being girly is a terrific quality to have! Loving makeup, hair and clothes is just another hobby that people should respect (because it takes an enormous amount of skill to pull off a smoky-eye or winged eyeliner!). Liking pink shouldn’t be looked down upon because, really, what does someone’s favorite color say about them? If I like red, it’s not going to reveal some deep truth about me, just like adoring pink doesn’t reveal that someone’s shallow or mean (even if BuzzFeed quizzes may try to tell you that). These feminine hobbies and interests have absolutely nothing to do with how a girl treats others because that comes from the heart, not the hobbies. Makeup, pink, pop songs, flowers and social media all may be just one aspect of a girly-girl’s nuanced personality and shouldn’t define her as a “cruel popular girl” or a ditzy idiot.
4. It oppresses feminism by shaming feminine qualities.
Femininity has historically been perceived as weakness or incompetence, and the stereotype of a one-dimensional girly-girl only enforces that belief. Not wanting to be like “other girls” devalues the entire female gender by taking away its originality, individuality and by taking away girls’ respect for their own gender. If girls don’t respect feminine qualities, then males won’t either.
5. No girl is one-dimensional.
It’s unfair to treat other girls like their hobbies and interests are the only aspect of their personality. For example, a girly-girl doesn’t just have to be a girly-girl. She can be intelligent, funny, shy, sweet, brave, artistic or empathetic too. Automatically discrediting feminine women of their other personality traits is like looking at someone and saying, “You have red hair, so you’re probably a rude person and nothing else." It’s ridiculous to assume that just because a girl is “girly,” that’s the only dimension to their personality.
6. There’s enough of this stereotyping in fiction; we don’t need to practice it in the real world, too.
Strong female characters in teen fiction such as Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games” and Tris Prior from the “Divergent” series have all been guilty of saying this phrase. In fact, just about every tom-boy, cheerleader-hating teen fiction protagonist has said this phrase at least a few times. In the very YA books that feature a protagonist like this, there is also a mean cheerleader trope that seems to occupy the place of the antagonist all the time. Books and movies like these try to convince us that tomboys and “nerds” are complex, good people and that fashion-lovers and girly-girl cheerleaders are one-dimensional, unintelligent and cruel brats. We shouldn’t let these stereotypes take place in the real world when they have never belonged in fiction in the first place.
As you can see, this phrase devalues girly-girls and makes girls ashamed of their gender. Let’s take the first step to phase it out by never saying it again.