“I’m not like other girls.”
Is honestly my favourite punchline as a joke, simply because of how ridiculous it sounds. And my friends are always in on it as well, along with the rest of the internet sphere, always ready to make fun of the concept of ‘pick-me’ girls.
But there was a dark time *shudders* when it was not a joke, but rather a defensive statement pertaining to one’s uniqueness. Because heaven forbid you, the main character of your own 2000s teen movie, could ever be as “dull” as the other hyperfeminine female antagonistic characters.
So, what is a ‘pick-me’ girl? To put it simply, it is usually a girl who puts other girls down in an effort to seem superior in the eyes of the opposite gender.
Typical phrases include:
“Girls who wear make-up are so fake. I don’t wear make-up because I’m all natural.”
“I only hangout with boys because girls are so dramatic.”
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with choosing not to wear make-up nor is there anything wrong with wanting to be friends with boys. However, the problem arises when a girl feels the need to shame other girls in pursuit of these things. You can have traditionally masculine interests like football, video games, beer etc., just don’t shame other girls who prefer traditionally feminine activities. Girls are allowed to enjoy anything they want without needing to be defensive about it.
But this article is not to shame ‘pick-me’ girls because to be frank, society has a tendency to make fun of girls enough as it is. And as embarrassing as it sounds, I too had a pick-me girl phase (in my defence it was also my Wattpad phase). At age 12, I deemed myself to be a rare female breed because I…read *gasps*. Quirky, I know. My Facebook was flooded with questionable posts that pit women against each other with the whole “other girls vs me” type of content. It is almost as if women are one-dimensional beings that could only fit into one mould.
Many of the girls I talked to recall their own ‘pick-me’ phase. Perhaps you even had a pick-me phase yourself. It is important to understand that the issue does not stem directly from the individual. Rather, it is years of conditioning through unrelenting patriarchal values and the media which shape young impressionable girls to become competitive against each other.
Throughout history, it has been a man’s world and women have to fight each other to receive male validation in order to be considered relevant. Traditional values still trickle down and influence us today, reinforced by societal pressure to conform by acting as passive side-characters in a man’s life. Could you really blame girls for trying to deviate from that association? For wanting to be different?
Films and books which fail to portray women as multifaceted characters are also to blame. The copy-pasted troupes of a hyperfeminine mean girl against the nerdy or sporty protagonist leaves an impression that girls can only be one or the other. The audience is meant to relate to the socially awkward yet relatable main character whose whole plot often revolves around getting a boy’s attention. At the same time, it demonises other girls for being too “girly”, depicting interests in make-up and fashion as something shallow and superficial. This may lead to internalised misogyny because it cements the belief that one type of girl is better than the other.
Fortunately, times are changing with new waves of female representation that allow women to act freely and to be loved unconditionally. It is time we understand that every girl is their own main character regardless of their interests and how they choose to present themselves. With more women as creative directors in the entertainment industry we are now exposed to media which celebrates the average woman, the woman who is loud, the woman who is messy, the woman who exclusively wears pink, the woman who chooses to follow the stereotype or the woman who chooses to break the stereotype.
Let us stop desperately trying to be the exception and be proud of the similarities we may share with each other as women. Let us celebrate the rise of women together. There is no longer a need to be a ‘pick-me’ because the conversation has shifted in finding ways for this patriarchal society to pick us.
Written by Natasha Maya