The Pick Me Girl is a relatively new trend growing in popularity through GenZ audience on social media. This term refers to those girls who get out of their way to appear more attractive to the male gaze and in that attempt, try to belittle other women around them. This is a new version of the “Cool Girl” trope so brilliantly deconstructed by Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. The Pick Me Girl, however, is not limited to the Cool Girl Trope as she doesn’t only want to appear cool but ‘ideal in all ways’.
Amy Roseblunth classifies the Pick Me in three categories: there are the ‘Wifeys’ who try to emphasise their marriageability and how they are the perfect idea of women while leaning into backward gender norms. Then there are NLOGs or Not Like Other Girls who try to denigrate from feminine traits by acting ‘quirky’ or different but at the same time, invisibilizing their actual identities and belittling other girls for being feminine. At last, there are the anti-feminists who look down upon feminism and advocate for what they think is ‘gender equality’ but is actually misogyny.
While these three categories sound vastly different, the basic characteristics of all Pick Me Girls is their internalised misogyny and insecurity.
WHY SO SELF-HATING?
The Pick Me attitude usually begins during puberty when teenagers start experimenting with their identities and dating lives. The rabbit hole of why teenagers feel insecure is too giant to explore but consider it sufficient to be the reason why they start acting different and try to fit into the status quo. A teenage girl grapples with gender politics even before she realises the meaning of these words. Put this confused teenage girl in a patriarchal world and all she knows is how to hate herself for being a woman.
The identity of a Pick Me Girl germinates from a self-loathing, insecure identity which leads to internalised misogyny. No matter which one form of Pick Me Girl she becomes then- all she will attempt to do is change herself every moment to appear the most attractive to boys while pushing other girls away. To the Pick Me Girl, life is a race of winning a boy’s heart and all the other girls are her competitors.
MALE GAZE AT WORK AGAIN
Margaret Atwood said, “Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy.” When a Pick Me, especially the NLOGs (Not Like Other Girls), tries to shed her femininity to appear more attractive, she is not doing it as a form of asserting her identity in a male-dominated world but is actually attempting to serve its structures. When she says “I like video game”, she always follows it up with (if not the words, then the intention), “instead of liking make up like other girls.”
Her actions are, therefore, while not overtly sexualized to cater to the male gaze, are still directed to it. The male gaze transforms: it is not the one policing you but you are policing yourself to serve it.
THE PICK ME GIRL IN MEDIA
Another way of looking at this trope is its transformation in popular media. The fundamental idea of the Pick Me Girl thrived in the 2000s in the form of Quirky Girl or Cool Girl, through the Me Vs Her memes but now, when more genuine female-oriented storytelling is being done in mainstream media, we are looking at the toxicity of the trope.
That is not to say that the 2000s media was only regressive. Movies like Legally Blonde show the transformation of its protagonist from her desire to win back her ex-boyfriend to her intellectual growth and self-enrichment. Today, there are numerous TikToks and Youtube videos that parody the trope of the Pick Me Girl and portray the absurdity and toxicity of the same.
FORGIVING THE PICK ME
We must keep one thing in mind: the problem is not the Pick Me Girl but the system that creates her. Besides, the ‘Pick Me’ is mostly only a phase. Girls grow out of it after some time.
While there is no doubt that the concept of Pick Me Girls is highly toxic, we should remember that these girls are actually insecure and so, one should not resort to bullying them. Because the lines between genuinely being yourself and being a Pick Me might blur at times, the phrase has also been misused by many people. By bullying someone for being a Pick Me, we ourselves might be at the risk of becoming one.
The Pick Me needs to be treated with sympathy and understanding. It is only through kindness and support that internalised misogyny can be transformed into genuine female friendships. The only way to escape the toxicity of a Pick Me Girl trope is to cure it with self-love and genuine bonds.