She wasn’t like other girls’. How many times have we heard that phrase? Be it in YA novels, or in a cheesy chick lit movie, or in every day life?
‘She wasn’t like other girls’ seems to be the society’s conscious effort to show young women what a girl ought to be; it seems to reject notions of superficial qualities and places stock on other qualities like intelligence and wit and appreciation, which is apparently what every young woman ought to have.
So what exactly makes her unlike ‘other girls’? Or in other words, what does she have that ‘other girls’ don’t have?
Pop culture and trashy novels seem to propagate the idea that the life of every young girl revolves around makeup, clothes and partying. That every girl goes gooey-eyed at the sight of a boy, and that they are not in possession of grey matter.
Hence why ‘our girl’ is so different. She isn’t like every other girl, because every other girl is vapid and mindless. Our girl reads Bukowski unto the early hours of dawn, drinks chamomile tea unlike the other girls who drink only expensive, unpronounceable drinks from Starbucks, and seems content to wear an old cotton shirt and ratty overalls instead of shopping at Zara and Abercrombie.
Who is this strange girl and why has she come to define the very ideal of feminist utopia? Why are young girls pressured into feeling that they’re a failure if they enjoy shopping instead of reading James Joyce’s Ulysses even if they don’t understand a single word?
Is it really such a shame that girls enjoy conventionally ‘feminine’ activities like dressing up and doing their hair?
Buying into this Mary-Sue-esque ideal of a woman not only further strengthens patriarchy, it also deludes a woman into thinking that everything she enjoys doing is something to be ashamed of. It is not. Let me make that extremely clear, in case there is a young girl reading this.
The literary ideal of what a woman ought to be is a messed-up, unrealistic ideal. It rarely exists, if ever. It matters not if you read Archie’s comics or Culture and Anarchy or prefer to not read at all. It does not matter if you wear a thong or a t-shirt or a tutu skirt. It doesn’t matter if you date excessively or prefer to remain single. It DOES NOT matter if you like One Direction or the Ramones. It does not matter. Does it make you happy? Do it. No questions asked. What you like and what you do in no way contributes to you as a person, I can guarantee that. Your IQ has nothing to do with what plays through your headphones when you take the bus to school. It has nothing with the amount of makeup you own. It has absolutely nothing to do with the length of your hemline.
You don’t have to look and act and think in a certain way for you to be accepted. You do not have to make the society happy by abiding to its norms. Just remember that.
Note: Ahh I finally updated my blog! Apologies for the long absence; I’ve been facing a serious lack of inspiration and coupled with long hours at college, I’ve just had no motivation till now. This topic has been discussed ad nauseam, but a close family member of mine has been facing insecurities because of this very reason and I thought I should discuss this. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to drop in a comment!