I am “like other girls”

Emma Tanner, News Editor

I’m sure every Millennial or Gen Z girl can relate to the embarrassing middle school days where “I’m not like other girls” was a mantra of sorts. Maybe you shunned Twilight or poked fun at girls who wore makeup. For me, I swore off pop music, traded my Uggs for Converse, and never entertained the idea of a crush. It was an exhausting ruse to keep up, since I wanted to jam out to One Direction or Taylor Swift every time I heard them on the radio and Uggs were admittedly very comfortable. I just couldn’t bear to be one in the same with what was regularly ridiculed and God forbid someone call me basic.

From the early days of my youth, being an unapologetic teenage girl was frowned upon. Anything that was deemed “girly” was suddenly uncool among the masses. Things like Starbucks and Brandy Melville were suddenly dropped by all who deemed them too mainstream. In recent years, scrunchies and Vans sneakers have fallen under the basic umbrella (think VSCO girls of the late 2010s). Being a teenage girl is territory for ridicule, no matter what we do — it isn’t limited to basic girls. If a girl decides she likes gaming, she’s a fake gamer who is only doing it to impress boys. If she tries to delve into the punk subculture, she will be constantly asked to prove herself as a “true fan”. There is no way to exist as a teenage girl without being subjected to belittlement. 

I fell into the trap of wanting to feel unique. If I showed that I liked what was popular, then I would no longer be my own person. My identity would be watered down to basic. I tore down my One Direction posters and replaced them with pop punk bands. The more obscure the better. I insisted that I hated pink and would never be caught dead in a Starbucks. The truth was pink was my favorite color and Starbucks’ chai lattes are to die for. While the punk bands I liked were good, I was still secretly digging the Top 40. 

Having the ideology of “I’m not like other girls” made me a part of the problem. I ridiculed what I deemed stereotypically feminine. The idea that feminine things are inherently unappealing is a tale as old as time. Throughout history, many jobs were ditched by men when women began entering the workforce (think teaching, nursing, etc.). Even fashion items were labeled as feminine once they became popular. I mean, high heels began as menswear and pink used to be the main color of masculinity. Being anti-all things feminine was harmful in more ways than I knew. I became what made me reject femininity in the first place.

As I got older, I realized that there is nothing wrong with being like everyone else. I still have things that make me unique but I am not afraid to embrace the stereotypically feminine things about myself. I enjoy wearing dresses and applying makeup. I like listening to pop music. That being said, I prefer vinyl to digital music and would rather sport Doc Martens than stilettos. Being feminine doesn’t mean that I lack individuality. I can be like other girls and still be my own person. There is nothing wrong with being like everyone else because, at the root of things, we still have things that make us unique.