The ‘not like other girls’ complex harms us all

Most women have, at some point, had a “not like other girls” complex, usually as a teenager.

I know I did.

When we grow out of it, we often make fun of that type of attitude, which makes sense, but isn’t really helping the issue.

The “not like other girls” complex, as well as the pushback against it, stems from how feminine interests are trivialized, as well as the way we treat other women as competition.

Feminine interests and hobbies are frequently treated as stupid or embarrassing until men start to like them.

A major reason why the Beatles shot to stardom is because of their devoted young female fan base in their early years.

As they got more popular, their fans became much more diverse.

Now they’re seen as an industry changing and historically significant band.

Is it possible that in 50 years, the bands that young girls and women like will be viewed as industry changers instead of silly?

It’s common for teenage girls to get defensive about being “different” because they like books, video games or nerd culture instead of traditionally feminine things like fashion and makeup.

The thing is, girls who aren’t traditionally feminine are just as common as girls who are. There are also a lot of people who fall into both groups.

I like fashion and makeup, but I also have other interests. It’s unfortunate how often we treat people as if they aren’t capable of liking multiple things.

Once we start to grow up a little, around college age, we start to realize that having a “not like other girls” mindset isn’t healthy, and maybe start to make fun of girls like that.

However, I think that only makes things worse.

Making fun of girls, who are usually younger and less experienced, who have internalized unhealthy attitudes because of the patriarchy, is only making the issue worse.

We should probably be trying to reach out with kindness and show them that other girls aren’t the enemy.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because it’s an issue I’ve struggled with as a teenager and as an adult.

While I’ve grown out of making fun of other girls for being feminine, taking jabs at other girls that used to have the same mindset as me isn’t productive or helpful, and it’s still something I find myself doing at times.

When I think of this, I think of the scene in “The Breakfast Club” where Allison is talking about sex with Claire, and says it’s a double-edged sword because “…if you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have, you’re a slut.

It’s a trap. You want to but you can’t, and when you do you wish you didn’t, right?”

It feels like an accurate representation of how teenagers view sexuality, as well as many other things.

If you’re a feminine girl, you’re boring, basic and you’re like everyone else. If you’re not very feminine, you’re a tryhard seeking out validation for being edgy and different.

We outgrow shaming girls for being feminine or basic just to grow into shaming the girls who shame them.

We have to start trying to break the cycle of shame.

That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t criticize other women.

If they’re doing things that are harmful, they should face consequences. Criticism of morality is different than needless dunking on someone.

However, when girls are pointlessly attacking other girls, maybe we should have empathy and understand this is coming from a place of hurt.

While this is harmful behavior, it’s often a defense mechanism against a world that belittles them.

The first way we can work on this is with ourselves. It’s time we start questioning our first judgments of people.

It doesn’t matter if they’re trendy or not, if they like drinking pumpkin spice lattes or kombucha.

It says nothing about their character and doesn’t make them better or worse than anyone else.

Instead, we should use that energy and turn it inward to examine our internalized prejudices and work at wearing them down.

We also have to stop comparing ourselves to others.

It doesn’t really matter how much we’re alike or different from others, as long as we’re being our genuine selves.


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