For those who are unaware of what this infamous phrase means, "I'm Not Like Other Girls" means exactly what it states. And yet, whilst this seemingly innocent remark has now become a widespread subcultural phenomenon, the phrase itself carries many heavy connotations regarding femininity and gender stereotypes that create a toxic mentality among our generation.
The embodiment of the phrase can be said to first originate in the 20th century, varying in form. It was a protest to the stereotypical feminine archetype and was also a protest to society and its construct. Soon it became ingrained into the minds of young women, who believed that because they had different interests, different personalities to the girls surrounding them, they were special and unique.
Around the early 2000s, a common theme started to arise - that being the extreme demonisation of femininity. A famous example of this is the movie ‘Mean Girls’. The antagonists in the film are ‘The Plastics’ - they are everything that comes to mind when someone mentions femininity and it is through this movie and the characters that Hollywood manages to create the correlation between liking pink and being a villain. And it’s not just a coincidence - in the following years, movies such as Twilight and The Hunger Games were released, with their main characters being self- proclaimed relatable girls who just so happen to hate anything feminine.
This condemnation can be reflected throughout mass media and impacts both those who conform to the trend and those who don’t. It invalidates other women’s views and choices by implying that if one acts feminine they are giving in to the patriarchy that propels our society, creating severe damage to the mental health of many. Growing up, girls are belittled and devalued because of their preferences and led to believe that what they like is considered an insult. The mentality created from this trend deeply impacts the perception that young girls have of themselves, leading to self-doubt and self-hatred.
The association between femininity and patriarchy also explores the ubiquity of internalised misogyny, which in turn perpetuates this trend. Women who state that they are different from the rest of their gender for whatever reason ironically fall into the gender stereotype that has become integrated into our society today. Because by saying that they are not feminine, which apparently sets them apart and ‘not like other girls’, it automatically suggests that girls are meant to like pink and act girly, and boys, the opposite.
Society must start accepting the fact that girls are able to like pink and wear dresses, without falling into a specific stereotype and deemed as high- maintenance or needing masculine validation. The same applies to women who prefer to present as more masculine than others. It's these very actions that perpetuate the segregation of men and women in our society and prevent us from breaking the barrier to equality.