I'm Not Like Other Girls - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

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I’m Not Like Other Girls

I’m not an airhead. Not like those other girls.


A guy friend once told me that I’m “not like other girls.” He meant it as a compliment, but it left a lump in my throat that made it impossible for me to get my thanks out. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t want to thank him for this so-called compliment at all.

I knew what he meant: you’re not a “girly-girl.” You don’t obsess over nail polish and twirl your hair while smacking pink bubblegum and talking about the latest celebrity gossip. You’re not an airhead. Not like those other girls.

I’m Not Like Other Girls

But when did all other girls become airheads? This compliment equates girlhood with vapidity, a mentality I wish we’d left behind in middle school. But it keeps following us, a grown-up (but not any more mature) version of “girls have cooties.”

I spent most of my middle school years buying into the “not like other girls” myth. I rejected pink and didn’t wear makeup and read a lot of books to prove I wasn’t a feminine ninny. I wanted to have mostly guy friends because being friends with girls was “too much drama.” I look back on this time and groan because it’s internalized misogyny at its finest. No girl should feel like she’s in the wrong for being feminine, but it’s a phenomenon that’s much too common.

The worst part about it is that, in an effort to become “one of the boys” so that I wasn’t like other girls, I missed out being friends with other girls for a long time. And, contrary to what this “compliment” would have you believe, other girls are awesome. My girlfriends are one of the greatest parts of my life, and they’re the most exceptional people I know.

Contrary to what this “compliment” would have you believe, other girls are awesome.

I did it because the compliment “not like other girls” forces women into a competition none of us agreed to, where the goal is to lessen our femininity. But girlhood isn’t something I want to break out of, it’s something I want to celebrate. Things we consider ditzy–lipstick, high heels, pretty dresses, too many pillows on the bed–are fun things girls should be able to enjoy without any negative connotations. And if I can love them all and graduate with a higher GPA than the guy who allegedly complimented me, it’s because enjoying girlhood doesn’t make me a ninny.

The truth is, I’m not like other girls. Neither is my sister, or my cousin, or my best friend, or my roommate, or the girl who sat next to me on the subway this morning. We’re all different from each other because—get this—we’re actual people with actual personalities. A subtlety the dude who insists I’m “not like other girls” just can’t grasp.

When I told my guy friend this, he rolled his eyes and told me I was overanalyzing. But language is where our thoughts start. It’s what we use to express ourselves. And what we’re expressing here is a deep-seated disgust for femininity that’s engrained in the words we use every day. It’s about time we changed that.


Read more: Does Our Language Discourage Women?

Have you ever been told you’re not like other girls?

Born in France but raised all over the place, Auriane has wanted to write ever since she was old enough to spell her name. In her spare time she loves reading, hanging out with her best friends (even when they're not in the same time zone), and spontaneous singing with her Broadway-bound roommate.

Reader Discussion: 58 Comments

  1. Tracy Anderson

    I can’t remember someone telling me that, but I know that I don’t consider myself a girly-girl. I really don’t like to spend 2 hours in the bathroom every day. BUT, I like to wear some makeup and high heels sometimes. I can go out without makeup and I do it every day. I think that’s crazy that most of the girls I know can’t go out wearing any makeup. Stay natural, that’s the motto.

  2. Lana Urie

    I hate the phrase “I’m not like other girls” It most of the time is followed by something that rejects the typical idea of “femininity”. Girls are taught that if they stray away from what society defines as feminine, then they will be seen as “cool” or “quirky” and that makes them better than girls who do typically “feminine” things. Girls, if you prefer to wear sneakers, great! But it doesn’t make you better than someone who wears 5-inch heels. Don’t shame other girls for their choices. Embrace your differences and uplift each other.

  3. Marina Henderson

    Ladies, it is time to stop subjecting ourselves to the offensive and unrealistic standards set by society. There is no correct way to be a girl, and there is no such thing as the ‘ideal’ girl, despite what everyone tells us. Ending internalized misogyny is a team effort. Girls need to be there to love and embrace each other’s different lifestyles and choices. Together we can create a community of support and empowerment!

  4. It’s a misguided compliment, plain and simple. The man you’re talking to believes he’s praising your uniqueness and other good qualities he hasn’t seen in other women so far. But in the process, he’s inadvertently putting down other women, by saying that all of them don’t have the qualities you have. Which, by definition, includes your family and friends. It can be a pragmatic language use issue, not an uncommon mistake for aspies. Doubly so for whom English is not the first language.

    I see it as a male equivalent of saying “you’re a nice guy”. The dictionary meaning of “nice” is positive; it means kind, good-natured, etc. But in everyday language use, being a “nice guy” is bad. It doesn’t mean “a guy who’s a nice person”; it means “Nice Guy(TM)”. So this goes both ways.

    • Danielle Wilson

      These are MAJOR generalizations. “You’re not like other women” may be a pick-up line (which might actually lead to a wonderful relationship), it may be an insult, or it may be a genuine, heart-felt compliment. “Different” does not automatically mean “bad,” just as it doesn’t automatically mean “good.” Similarly, someone being considered a “nice guy” can also be a compliment. Assuming that a certain phrase or word has only negative connotations outside the dictionary is just as bad and dangerous as assuming it always means something positive. Context is crucial.

  5. I think that when people say that, about themselves or others, they are usually making a huge and negative generalization about other people. It is easy to believe that your experiences are felt more deeply than anyone else’s, or to meet somebody you get along with and feel like they are the chosen one and on a higher level of consciousness, but everyone who doesn’t look and act like you at first glance is not a cardboard cutout with no personality or legitimate interests. And yes, women are disproportionately stereotyped that way.

  6. I think the problem with statements like, “You’re not like other women,” is that it indicates they’re lumping every other female into a single monolithic category as if women weren’t a variety of people. If someone stereotypes women that much, that’s a bad thing, regardless of what that stereotype is.

    It’s a long the same lines as “You’re one of the good ones [among people of your race]” or “You don’t look autistic.”

    Yeah, I’m not like most other women, but most women aren’t like most other women, but on the other hand there are plenty of women I’m fairly similar with, too.

  7. I honestly think if a man says “you’re not like other women” then you should run but not because he hates women, he most probably doesn’t. It’s just a lame pick-up line. And you should probably run away from lame pick-up artists whether you appreciate their sentiments or not.

    • Yuppp!!! The reason women say to run from a guy who uses that phrase is because it’s a line generally used by creepy guys. Chances are the guy doesn’t know you very well and is not actually commenting on your differences, so while you might embrace being different, he’s not saying that as an observation. He says it to all girls, to make them feel “special,” and get in their pants.

  8. Lucretia Asher

    Women cannot be contained to a single archetype, and there is no wrong way of being a girl. Other Girls don’t exist—only other people, who are just as capable as you are of feeling love or loss, joy or suffering. Once we stop degrading our own gender it will be so much easier to support, encourage, and love one another. Empowered women empower other women, so build each other up and watch each other grow.

  9. Debbie Jones

    The first time a guy told me I’m “not like other girls,” I blushed and said thank you. It’s nice to hear that someone thinks you’re special. As the night went on, however, I couldn’t help but ponder the subtext of his praise. Being told I’m “not like other girls” stopped feeling flattering, and started to feel like a thinly veiled dig at my entire gender. Why do I have to be unlike the women I call my friends, family, and role models in order to be wanted? By saying that my wit, values, or independence make me different from “Other Girls,” he was basically saying, “I think girls suck, but you are the lucky exception.” Appealing to my ego by insulting other women isn’t a compliment; it’s forcing women into a competition that none of us agreed to.

  10. What is so wrong with being an ordinary woman that everybody’s going on about not being like other women? That’s a huge insult to the whole gender, especially when it comes from women!

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