(Savannah Brown is a wonderful YouTuber. She is witty and articulate and fashionable, and one of my favorite YouTubers to watch. A video she recently made inspired this post. You can watch that video here.)
Our entire lives we have been surrounded with the messages that women and girls are not enough. They are not strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, quirky enough, cool enough–I could go on forever. They are expected to be these perfect creatures who serve men. And while this may seem a bit extreme, take a look around; it’s not far from the truth.
There are also many stereotypes about women that are believed. That they’re weak, not as capable as doing things men do, dumb, and all have the same personality. They’re all supposed to wear makeup–but not too much, because then it’s “false advertising”–and enjoy dressing up and have no hair on their bodies and be crazy about guys.
But most women don’t fit this stereotype. Women are so much more complex than these simple personality traits that keep them boxed in to sexist ideals. And if they don’t fit this stereotype, then they are rejected by society until they change, or a man changes them. Additionally, when women reject this stereotype, they may say things along the lines of “I’m not like other girls.”
I have fallen into this trap. I rejected all things feminine. I hung out with guys and didn’t care about my appearance. I saw the girls at my school who were girly as stupid and monsters. I didn’t realize that femininity can be empowering–it IS empowering.
The phrase “I’m not like other girls” is problematic for many reasons. First of all, it perpetuates the stereotype about other girls. When people hear it, they just assume that those “other girls” are ditzy and dumb and weak. Which they’re not! Even the girls who seem to fit this stereotype are more than the few words used to describe them. That’s the really interesting thing about humans: we’re all so complicated and unique that any words in any language cannot completely describe us. We are known by the way our eyes crinkle at the sides when we laugh and the way we hold ourselves on the worst days and the things we think when no one’s listening.
Another reason is that the girl who is rejecting the stereotypes is internalizing that being a stereotypical female is bad, and that the stereotype is the only way to be feminine. Femininity is not just one thing; it is not just the color pink and makeup and long blonde hair. It can be anything for different women and girls. It can be interpreted in so many different ways. One girl may feel feminine when she wears razor-sharp winged eyeliner and tight, glittery skirts. Another girl may feel feminine when she wears baggy clothing and no makeup.
In literature and film, we usually see these four archetypes of girls:
The Nerd: She reads books and does well in school. Doesn’t wear particularly fashionable clothing. Has glasses and wears her hair in a ponytail. But when she takes off her glasses and puts her hair down, is beautiful.
The Mean Girl: Popular. Blonde. Throws shade. Has a hot boyfriend. Cheerleader.
The Mystery: Listens to alternative music. Unconventionally pretty. Somehow is friends with the popular girls. Probably idolized. Think Margot Roth Spiegelman from Paper Towns.
The Strong One: Really badass. Cold to everyone. Hot. Physically strong.
These girls don’t exist. We need to wakeup and realize this. We need complex girls, real girls. Like I said before, girls are so complicated. They are all different and a mix of all these traits. They have their own lives and internal struggles. They are not perfect.
what are your thoughts on femininity and saying “i’m not like other girls”? do you ahem any personal experience with this? have a wonderful day, loves.