Why The Girls Are Hating The “I’m Not Like Other Girls” Trope
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Hannah Yarrington. Find her on Instagram at @513hny. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at email@example.com.
Throughout the years, women have been portrayed in film and literature in various sexist and misogynistic ways. Whether it be the damsel in distress, the self-sacrificing woman who has to give up on her dreams to please a man, or whatever the case may be. But in recent years, many writers have tried to combat the traditionally feminine characteristics that women are often bashed for and created the “I’m not like other girls” character. This character is, unfortunately, prevalent in Young Adult books or movies intended for young women and perpetuates harmful stereotypes that women have been trying to combat for hundreds of years. So today, we will dive into the “I’m not like other girls” character criteria and why girls absolutely hate it.
What makes a girl “not like other girls”
This trope can take on many different forms, some like the “pick me” (check out this article for more about pick me’s) or tomboy. This character rejects traditionally feminine things, like makeup, the color pink, or dresses, prefers to hang out with the boys, and believes that female friends are “too much drama.” An essential aspect of this character is not that they don’t like those things (because every woman is unique, and they don’t necessarily have to like what others think are stereotypical), but it’s that she specifically criticizes other women for enjoying those things. These characters believe they are somehow better than other girls because they choose to act more like men.
More and more, the idea of women wanting to be feminine is becoming undesirable in literature, and writers want to incorporate hyper-masculinization into their female characters. The “I’m not like other girls” trope happens when authors and writers try really hard to avoid the “good girl” trope, and they overcorrect their writing in an attempt to make their female characters more appealing. Now, the “good girl” trope is another inherently sexist trope where these girls are made out to be very pure, unselfish, self-sacrificing, and weak to the point that they constantly have to rely on men. But in more recent books, authors want their female characters to appear “strong” by making them act more like men. Funny, right? However, the general consensus among us girls is that we can still wear eyeliner and be strong women.
Women are all unique in their own ways
In rejecting the womanly desires that men often find stupid and pointless, boys will praise women for having some “sense” and caring about things they deem more important. Some character/couple examples of this are Edward Cullen/Bella Swan from Twilight, Clary/Jace from The Mortal Instruments, Alina/The Darkling in Shadow and Bone, Elena/Damon in The Vampire Diaries, and the list goes on. But a lot of girls who read this trope feel hurt by the implication that the feminine things they enjoy are unappealing and that they’ll never get a guy if they act like that. But to combat this type of character, please try reading about Aelin from Throne of Glass and Jude from The Cruel Prince, both highly dynamic characters that make me feel confident in my femininity.
But there has been a massive online movement in the book community where many female readers are calling these authors out for their internalized misogyny and voicing that women don’t exist simply to please men. We do not spend our hours molding ourselves to meet a man’s desires and change our interests simply because we think being a woman and liking things that women traditionally like makes you weak and less of a person because it doesn’t. Every woman is born so beautiful, and it should be a crime to be told that we are ugly because we don’t live up to outrageous expectations.
You are not weak because you want to wear dresses; you are not a “catfish” because you love to put on a full face of makeup; women are humans and unique creatures with thoughts and feelings! Women are so much more than their looks, and as Jo March says in Little Women, “Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty.” So, in a way, every woman is “not like other girls,” yet she is. If you talk to another girl long enough, you’ll find that you have things in common, even if you have differences. We should have never had to feel the need to separate ourselves in the first place, and the girls will keep fighting so that every woman feels accepted as they are.
What are your thoughts on the “I’m not like other girls” trope? What are some ways you support the women in your life? Let us know!