Womens Issues

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?

Avatar of Auriane Desombre

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: 80 Comments

  1. Avatar of Katie Fan

    Sorry, but i actually think this is a good thing. i mean, i will be friends with the girls that aren’t anoyying me, but for some reason, a lot of girls just seem like total annoying brats.

  2. Avatar of Victoria George

    Victoria George

    I’m just wondering, because I feel like at some point, we also used this phrase with men. I think it’s a bit wrong to attack men just because they used this phrase on us. When in fact, we also tell this to men in order to differentiate them with other men. Maybe at some point you really were overanalyzing stuff? Because it simply means that among all the fishes in the sea, you’re different. It’s a compliment, not an insult. Feminism just made us all feel like our gender is being attacked.

  3. Avatar of Meiga Jenk

    I’m so sorry for thinking that this was a compliment. I thought it was a good thing.

  4. Avatar of Tara Hunt

    Tara Hunt

    This woke me up to the reality of every “You’re not like other girls” that was said to me. ?

  5. Avatar of Jennifer Baker

    Jennifer Baker

    I feel like Urbanette is making me feel like I’ve been wrong about the things I’ve believed in all my life.

  6. Avatar of William Dean

    William Dean

    Of course, men would think we’re always overanalyzing. But the issue with them is that they never analyze stuff so their brain fails to recognize certain issues that need to be fixed. Men think the world is simple, when in fact it’s not black and white. They think that a sentence is always simple and that a phrase is “it is what it is”. Why do men feel the need to invalidate certain things that women try to discuss? I’m so annoyed with things like this already.

  7. Avatar of Stanley Lavine

    Stanley Lavine

    This is such a cancer to society….. Let’s stop comparing women to each other no matter who they are.

  8. Avatar of Alta Johnson

    Alta Johnson

    I kind of don’t see what’s wrong with the compliment. The person only meant to say that you’re different. He’s not making you attack other girls or compete with them. At some point in our lives, we’re bound to get told that we’re different.

  9. Avatar of Mamie Alvarado

    Mamie Alvarado

    I’m thankful that Urbanette always reminds us of things like this. Up until now, before I read this, I would have appreciated this phrase if it was used on me. SAD…

    • Avatar of Leona


      Same, for years I felt like I won every time someone tells me this. I was so, so wrong.

  10. Avatar of Diane Simon

    Diane Simon

    Men have been using this compliment as a pick up line for years. I can’t even count with my fingers anymore how many men have told me shit like this.

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