We need to talk. Again.
I was scrolling through Facebook today, and as per usual, I saw something ridiculously irritating.
One of my acquaintances from high school posted this picture and captioned it “Have fun with your makeup, Barbies. I’ll be over here reading.”
All I could do really was cackle at how dumb she sounded as I made my way to the unfriend button, but then I started to think about why she, and so many other girls, feel the need to separate themselves from other women.
Pictures like these are made under the assumption that there are two types of women: Brainiacs and Bimbos.
The Brainiacs function on a holier than thou, “Not Like Other Girls” complex made under the assumption that any girl who enjoys makeup, clothes, and mainstream pop culture is an uneducated Barbie doll with no personality or opinions.
The Brainiac views herself as much more complex because she likes *insert esoteric or unpopular thing here*, drinks tea, and is just such an introvert. She brags about her need for intellectual conversation and subtly shames girls who aren’t as modest in dress as she is.
She says things like “I hate hanging out with girls, they’re such drama,” “I’m just like one of the guys,” or my personal favorite “I don’t need to wear makeup/ dress “slutty” to feel good about myself.”
In essence, the Brainiac is an asshole, and is representative of a larger problem:
I’m Not Like Other Girls is a phenomenon born of the idea that women in general are too stupid and vain to have anything going on intellectually, and that if you’re smart or complex, you’re obviously the exception to that rule, and as a result more attractive to men. This creates a form of competition between women wherein stereotypical femininity is looked down upon in favor of traits that are viewed as more “masculine” (intellect, different interests, low maintenance, etc.)
This is the same phenomenon behind the look of disbelief when I tell people I’m in a sorority. The same one that causes my friend, who is a brilliant makeup artist, to downplay it as “just a silly hobby.” It’s also the same one that forced that poor girl on facebook to share that picture.
Would you like to know who created that idea? Men. (Sidebar: This isn’t an all men are evil post, so don’t get your fedora in a bunch. In fact you fedora-wearing “I’m not like other guys” guys suffer from a similar phenomenon stemming from the hypermaculinity presented by art and media, but we’ll save that for another day.).
We know the “Date the Marilyn, Marry the Jackie” dichotomy established by men all too well. There are two types of women, and each is better suited for two different types of interaction. Result? Everyone wants to be the Jackie. Girls want to go to great lengths to prove that they’re Not Like Other Girls to show men that they are/can be the Jackie (or the Vivian Kensington against Elle Woods), and is worthy of romantic interest (see the Gone Girl “cool girl” passage).
This idea is represented time and time again; in our YA literature (I’m not like other girls, I’m pale and shy and read books trope @JohnGreene @StephanieMeyer), in our music (Taylor “Friendship is Feminism” Swift’s ‘You Belong With Me’ video), in our movies and TV (Zooey Deschanel in literally everything).
While embracing who you are (“quirks” and all) is important, it’s equally important to know how to do so without knocking down other women for a number of reasons:
- That girl you’re making fun of is a person. Like you, that girl has interests, passions, and most importantly, feelings (crazy how she, too, is a human being amiright?). Talking her down does nothing to boost your self esteem. You’re still the same person who feels inadequate, otherwise you wouldn’t need to put her down in the first place.
2. Tina Fey said it best. By making it okay and even normal to make this type of girl-on-girl put down, you make it okay for guys to put down girls in the same fashion. As I said before, That Girl is just as worthy of respect as you are.
3. Other girls are cool as fuck. My group of friends is ridiculously dynamic, and each woman I associate with has her own unique traits that I can’t help but admire. Women are amazing, if you haven’t noticed, and separating yourself only leaves you missing out.
La Nouvelle Romantique