While the term ‘pick me’ and the phrase ‘I’m not like other girls’ can be loosely defined, the emotion of the latter is best captured in Gone Girl’s monologue. “Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, and who drinks cheap beer. Or the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be; they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be.” These lines hit home, accurately defining how women change themselves around men, fuelling the ‘pick-me’ fever.
If you aren’t in the loop with the term, a pick-me girl is a female who implies, subtly or overtly, that she is ‘not like the other girls’ to gain male approval. Pick-me girls have traits like letting guys walk all over them because they are ‘carefree’ and ‘drama-free’, tropes they adhere with alarming alacrity, lest the mask slip. They only hang out with males because, according to them, men are unproblematic; they adopt traits or qualities from their male counterparts, imbibing them into personality, propagating the farce that they were always like this.
Fuelled by Misogyny
The Gen Z in me wants to call it what it is… internalised misogyny. Women hating women is uncool, hating on their traits that imply their femininity, is absolutely brutal. Hailee Steinfeld didn’t lay out that soul-wrecking bridge for Most girls for us to belittle other women. In a society that thrives and prides itself on segregating people based on gender and generously bestowing them with likes and hobbies considered gender-appropriate, even activities are traditionally considered masculine or feminine. You’d think that all genders should and can appreciate any subject, but the blurring of lines seems to send ripples of discomfort across society. Particular passions—like fashion and films about female friendship—have traditionally been associated with women. As if liking sports or science makes them aliens.
There are completely inane notions that women must deal with – an outburst deems us too emotional or, and this one is always infuriating, a question about whether it is ‘that time of the month.’ To attract men, a pick-me-girl will promote these stereotypes while calling other women out for just existing with these emotions or worse, slut-shaming them. The pick-me girl’s eagerness to flex her male connections with other ladies and her whining about girls in front of guys, can be exhausting for women and endearing for men, making a smoke screen for the misogyny.
The batting of eyelashes and flirtatious touches are all tools from a girl’s kit but those are fine becuase it doesnt involve an elaborate charade to put down other women. The ‘pick me’ girl leans heavily on the characteristics that define women to get men to notice her, an act that entirely sexist and completely stupid. For many of these women, male attention is the holy grail of their existence, cutting quite a sorry figure for them. All of this pushes back the struggle women have faced throughout history for female freedom. Because on the internet, ‘girly girls’ are criticising ‘tomboy girls’ for not being girly enough. The Tomboys clan is busily criticising girly girls for being too girly. It just doesn’t stop.
Is this a phase?
Why are we talking about this now? These days, the pick-me dialogue is gaining high popularity on the internet. If I have to explain this in peak pop culture language, let’s rewind to 2006 and revisit the tone of She’s the Man starring Amanda Bynes, which delivers the different girl’s dislike towards lip gloss and sundresses, a trait she believes makes her the cool girl. Here’s the thing, the ‘pick me’ girl phase can be quite transient and if we are being completely honest, everyone has, in varying degrees, of course, pick-me phases. Usually, this is an attempt to get noticed by a boy we like, lest we drown in the sea of pretty girls around us.
My pick-me behaviour phase reached a crescendo when I declared, quite vehenmently, a full-fledged hatred of pink or being girly because I wanted to be different from the societal lens of girlhood. I have overcome throughout the years with a lot of unlearning. Because girlie habits are more than just wearing pink or dressing up, it is about lifting other women, sharing our pain, and understanding this scenario. And educating each other that we are trapped in the same system that’s been selling women the idea that they need to look or behave in a certain way to be valued, a disservice to women everywhere. If you look into pop culture history, the hero only chooses the heroine because she is written differently from other girls (the chosen one syndrome).
Girls for Girls
While we are pointing out their traits, it is really important to study the reason for their behaviour. The pick-me mindset indicates a woman who conforms to rigid, male-centric ideals, which is probably painful to some extent. This does not imply that society shouldn’t condone this behaviour. Although it’s possible that the girls haven’t thought about how their behaviour and attitudes contribute to sexism, misogyny, and ultimately the continuous subjugation of women. Whether it’s due to the blinkers padded by years of unbridled misogyny or the need to fit into society’s notions of what’s acceptable, these girls often don’t see it as problematic.
Women hate women. And men hate women. Its the only thing we all agree on ~ Sasha
— yuri (@yoo_reee) August 10, 2023
The pick-me scene also undermines female friendships because dudes can be the best friends with each other, but everyone’s got the idea that women hate women themselves; a woman’s biggest enemy is a woman.
Maybe we can try to make an offer to provide perspective, empathy, and knowledge instead of publicly berating pick-me-girls. The choose-me girl doesn’t have to take that offer, but it can spark a worthwhile discussion among women about how we should encourage rather than undermine one another.
Over the past years, pop culture has evolved from the special girl stereotype while celebrating different women through movies like Barbie, Little Women, and Miss Congeniality. Being independent is every woman’s right, but it is completely okay to be swept away by a man of your dreams. And it is also okay to not let a man come between your goals. It is all about choices while keeping self-respect at the top priority and celebrating each other.