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I used to love how Gabriella and Taylor didn’t paint their nails in High School Musical. In my eyes (and theirs), it made them better than the cheerleaders. For a long time, I pretended I didn’t like the color pink because it was too girly. I would refuse to get my nails done or wear makeup, but worse, I would look down on girls who did. I think a lot of girls fall under the idea of not wanting to be “like other girls”. In nearly every romantic movie, the main boy tells the main girl, “you’re not like other girls”, and that is a huge compliment. We were taught to hate our femininity, and that other girls are our competition. It’s time for that to end. 

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Some girls have a different experience than me, and truly don’t prefer most feminine things. They often still experience hearing that they’re “not like other girls”. That is equally harmful. It tells girls that if they do stray from feminine stereotypes, they’re somehow not real girls. There is nothing wrong with femininity, but also femininity isn’t what makes someone a girl. The phrase is harmful in all ways, so we need to stop saying it. 

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Feminine and non-feminine ideas can also exist within the same person, and usually do. Lots of times girls are labeled as soon as we enter the world. We’re either girly or tomboy. We’re then taught that “most girls” are girly, so if we want to stand out, we need to be a tomboy. We’re also told that if we want to be in charge, we can’t be girly. We don’t need to pick one side. It’s okay and normal to enjoy shopping and enjoy video games. It’s fine to wear makeup, but never wear a skirt. It’s okay to do your hair some days, and some days not. In the words of Taylor Swift, “I want to wear pink and tell you how I feel about politics. And I don’t think that those things have to cancel each other out”. We are complex humans, and saying “I’m not like other girls” completely ignores that. 

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In all honesty, if you’re a girl, you probably are like other girls. Other girls are unique, and have many interests. You’re probably not like all girls, and that is perfectly okay. We are all different, but that’s something we have in common. Other girls are not our competition. It’s time we ignore the stereotypes of femininity, and focus on finding ourselves, while lifting other girls up.

Josie Taylor

U Iowa '23

Josie is a junior at University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communications, and is getting a certificate in ASL. Besides writing, Josie enjoys watching Netflix and listening to Taylor Swift.
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