“I’m not like most girls.” I cringe a little harder every time I hear any variation of this statement. Even worse? Being told, “you’re not like most girls.” Sure, it’s meant to be a compliment, but what’s wrong with being like other women?
Even if we don’t mean to, every time we use this phrase we’re reinforcing the idea that the “typical” woman is unworthy. She’s catty, loud, superficial, and thrives off of drama. It constructs this idea of a woman that cares about nothing more than appearances and men. If we like sports, are down to earth, or can be “one of the boys,” we’re an anomaly. When we say, “I’m not like most girls,” what we’re really implying is “I don’t posses the qualities of being female that society has stigmatized to be annoying, stereotypical or inferior.”
Instead of saying we’re not like most girls, let’s clarify that we’re not like society’s preconceived notions of women. By striving to be different from the rest of the female population, we’re basically saying that being a woman isn’t good enough. It is unnecessary, and even harmful, to put down our entire gender to separate ourselves from the crowd.
I’m not like a lot of girls. But I am like tons of other girls, too. There is no list of qualities that most women possess. Some women love getting dressed up, some women don’t. Some women love to play and watch sports, some women could care less about them. Some women wear their hearts on their sleeves, other women keep their emotions to themselves. Some women love makeup, some women can’t be bothered by it. For any quality one woman possesses, there is a woman that possesses the opposite quality.
We can celebrate the traits that make up our individual, unique characters without judging others. We don’t need to be so hard on each other. Between the pay gap, glass ceilings, attacks on our reproductive rights, and all too common sexual assaults, things are tricky enough already. We can be alike, we can be different, but we need to be supportive and empowering of each and every kind of woman.