If you’re living in 2021, there’s no way you haven’t spent at least some time on TikTok. With its comedy videos, beauty tutorials, and dance challenges, TikTok has a trend for everyone. Unfortunately, some of these trends and hashtags have an uncanny ability to turn into toxic destinations. That’s exactly what happened to the #pickmegirl trend, and to make matters worse, it’s been flooding women’s FYPs and that’s not really okay.
So, #Pick-Me-Girls’ behavior is pretty problematic
A “pick me girl” is basically the living embodiment of “I’m not like other girls,” but taken to the extreme. To be clear, pick me girls are not women who simply don’t conform to gender stereotypes. They’re women who aim for male validation by asserting the ways they view themselves as superior to other women. They may call out their friends’ insecurities in front of men, laugh at sexist jokes, or say that they only hang out with guys because girls are too dramatic.
These actions are already pretty questionable: pick me girls demean other women, and even themselves, just to get attention from the men around them, but some take it even further. Over time, pick me girls’ problematic behavior may turn into openly degrading their peers for embracing their sexuality, criticizing others’ appearances, and even disagreeing with women’s equal rights.
Instead of standing with and supporting their fellow women, pick me girls belittle them to make themselves stand out in a crowd. This behavior is simply internalized misogyny. Whether they realize it or not, pick me girls essentially hate on other women because they view them as potential competition for men. Though this may not be the only reason: due to pick me girls’ internalized misogyny, they feel the need to separate themselves from feminity so they're not degraded by men for being women.
What exactly is the #PickMeGirl trend?
This TikTok trend uses a line from Lil Uzi Vert’s song “Heavy Metal” which reads: “Pick me like, pick me like, pick me.” While this line plays, girls will call out pick me girls and their actions. I’m not going to lie, these videos can be pretty entertaining, especially considering the fact that pretty much everyone who’s been to high school or college has met at least one girl who acts like that. With the hashtag’s 25 million views, it’s obvious that TikTok viewers agree.
This trend originally started as a way to bring the sexism and misogyny of pick me girls to light. While not necessarily innocent, the trend was designed with connotations that girls don’t need to fit into the ideal image society attempts to box them into. Pick me girls became easy targets. They were promoting sexist standards, while at the same time playing into male entitlement. Other women were having no part of it, so they created videos mocking pick me girls to highlight that women shouldn’t have to cater to the male viewpoint to feel validated.
How did the trend turn toxic?
This trend soon grew into something toxic, however, as things on the internet tend to do. All of a sudden women had TikTok’s permission to begin tearing other women down. As a result, what had started as a way to critique misogyny quickly transformed into a landscape where girls could be labeled pick me girls for literally anything.
Women may be labeled as pick me girls for reasons as ridiculous as the spelling of their name. Apparently, even having two a’s in your name is a way to get men’s attention. See the issue? The #pickmegirl trend is no longer a place to call out misogynistic behavior. It’s a place where women are being ridiculed for the most basic aspects of their personality by other women who they’ve never even met. It’s also worth noting that the term “pick me girl” is often used in a high school context, so when it’s directed at older women or women who are no longer girls, it infantilizes them.
This trend doesn’t stop with the videos. Ever venture into the comment sections of the videos you enjoy? Then, chances are you’ve seen women being called pick me girls there too. If a woman agrees with a man’s opinion in the comments, even if it’s just about something as simple as a fandom, odds are that there’s at least one comment saying that she’s a pick me girl.
In case the trouble in this pattern isn’t clear, let me explain. The women taking part in this new version of the trend are trying to separate themselves from the girls they say are pick me girls. So, when all is said and done, they're saying that they’re not like these other women. If this seems kind of familiar, it should. It’s the same thing pick me girls do, and it creates a toxic cycle.
Why does Internalized Misogyny seem to be the biggest player here?
Both sides of this cycle highlight the internalized misogyny present on social media. Pick me girls and the newest cycle of critics are simply tearing down other women. While it may not always be for male attention, the goal is still to degrade each other. This isn’t just toxic, it’s hypocritical.
Because of the #pickmegirl trend, women are being put on blast for falling short of extremely contradictory standards based on their efforts to please men or their efforts to claim their femininity. Either way, women are blamed for the environment created by misogynistic ideals. Pick me girls criticize other women for doing things they would never criticize men for, and other women are shaming pick me girls for wanting male attention. Both sides contribute to male entitlement, but neither side seems to blame the men for encouraging and promoting this TikTok war.
Women have been told for decades that “girls support girls,” but honestly, this trend leaves no room for that. Instead, it stigmatizes other women’s behavior, and all of the likes, comments, and shares just egg on the fight. So, instead of supporting or adding on to this toxic trend, recognize that not all women share interests or personalities, but that doesn’t mean they should be shamed by their peers.