Don't Tell Me I'm "Not Like Other Girls"

Growing up I had always yearned to hear that one phrase; just the mere recognition that I was “one of the boys.” When the elementary school boys said that about a girl in the class, it was as if she’d been gifted a great honor. I worked my way into the classification with every ounce of my being, like it was the only thing that mattered.

It was only until I had grown a little older that I understood what was at the root of the “one of the boys” sentiment: internalized misogyny. I know it sounds harsh to be calling the younger version of myself out on this, but hear me out. That's the struggle with internalized misogyny - you don't even know you’re doing it. Internalized misogyny, simply put, is when women and girls involuntarily believe the stereotypes and misconceptions of their gender. They believe these things even if they are not actively thinking about it. It had been so cemented in my head that being treated like a boy was so superior to girls. It’s all I had seen. It’s all I had known. It’s what society had taught me, so it was all that I hoped for as if being “one of the boys” somehow gave me the ultimate status.

As I grew older and I realized that there was nothing so special about being “one of the boys,” I hoped that the concept would disappear from my life. Instead, it just came back disguised as another set of pretty little words. Just as I had evolved, so did the phrase.

We’ve all heard it before: “You’re not like other girls.” What seems to be a sugar-coated compliment, is really anything but that. The more and more boys started saying this phrase to me, the more and more I began to question why it’s deemed such a worthy line. The line that once filled me with a sense of accomplishment now fills me with a sense of disdain.

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What is so special about being “different than other girls?” What bothers me the most about this phrase is that it reinforces one of the clear problems women face in our society. Rather than being taught to support one another, women are so often pushed to compete instead. We see it every day in the movies and magazines, and clearly in our everyday lives. It’s time that that we stop this endless cycle of letting people pit us against one another because it’s detrimental to women.

 A woman’s self-worth should not be based on how far she can distance herself from femininity. Women are complicated and complex and cannot be lumped together in one classification. Every woman encompasses her own set of qualities that make her unique.

So don’t tell me I’m “not like other girls” because the women in my life empower, motivate, and encourage me. I strive every day to be more like them. I want to be empathetic like my mother. I want to be spontaneous like my best friend. I want to be selfless like my sister. These “other girls” have so much to offer and possess so much that I hope to learn and become.

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Tell me I’m inspiring, or radiant, or passionate. Tell me I’m witty, or kind, or determined. Because that’s just like other girls. And that’s what I want to be.

 

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