Finally, the ‘you’re not like other girls’ faux-compliment is dying

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Finally, the ‘you’re not like other girls’ faux-compliment is dying

RIP and good riddance

There was a time in your life, in my life, in every woman’s life, when being told “you’re not like other girls” was the defining compliment, the greatest, most wonderful thing you could be told about yourself.

Maybe you were a teenager. You knew less about the world and the boy you liked probably purred it in your ear with pride and reverence. It’s a rite of passage, holding your “NLOG” title as a badge of honor.

It’s something I relished in being told as a teenager, but now makes me feel — for lack of a better word — icky. Before I realized other girls were actually really great, I was a “Not Like Other Girls Girl”.

And at the time, it wasn’t even a dirty secret. In our collective consciousness, being told “you’re not like other girls” was a way of elevating ourselves from, well, other girls.

It’s a subtle way of reminding girls that other women are their competition, not their allies, while simultaneously reinforcing the idea that the traditionally girlish aspects of their personality (liking clothes or make-up or being emotional) are ugly, unwanted things that should be hidden if you want boys to love you forever.

And it wasn’t something we picked up alone or transferred person-to-person like some virus or the way we all knew how to do that S in school.

The NLOG trope, the idea of positioning ourselves against other women, was enforced in the books we read, the “inspirational” quotes we saw shared on Tumblr, in Kanye telling us “one good girl is worth a thousand bitches”, even in our supposedly progressive TV shows.

Although Game of Thrones is repeatedly held as a shining example of “badass women” crushing the patriarchy (although yeah, it does seem like Jon has just overtaken Dany), in an early season when Tywin asks independent, fierce, stereotype-smashing Arya: “Aren’t most girls interested in the pretty maidens from the songs? Jonquil, flowers in her hair?” Arya retorts “most girls are idiots”.

Thankfully, in 2017, it looks like the “you’re not like other girls” curse has finally been lifted.

Recently, when the trope resurfaces online, it’s ridiculed rather than worshipped. Illustration Twitter account, @relatablearts, saw it first hand with week when they shared a myopic drawing (which in turn was stolen from artist @planetprudence), which compared beautiful, fashionable “other girls” to “me” (wearing dirty, ripped underwear, glasses and a perplexed expression). It was quickly vilified by every right minded person on Twitter as ridiculous, offensive. And gross as fuck.

Satirical website Reductress regularly uses the trope to show our ridiculous and paper-thin our “cool girl” mentality can be. Almost unanimously, we’ve at last woken up and seen it for what it is: internalized misogyny.

When I say I’m “not like them,” I mean I’m a fucking monster.

Posted by Reductress on Friday, August 25, 2017

Personally, I like to think of it as a collective cultural glow-up. A happy byproduct of feminism’s mainstream commodification means it’s now more acceptable than ever for women to love and accept each other.

Examples: squads etc. Taylor Swift’s evolution follows the same pattern as the life, and death, of the NLOG myth. She started off positioning herself against the other woman, who kept stealing her man and leaving her the victim but after the public turned on her for her endless relationships and growing bitchy loner personality, she quickly assembled herself a crack team of female friends to openly love and respect.

Whether it was real or not, the implication was clear: Women no longer trust you if you place yourself outside their world. You’re more likable with friends than competitors.

But it’s not just the evolution of mainstream, t-shirt slogan, marketable millennial feminism that’s to thank for the end of our dark NLOG ways. It’s also the dwindling end to what seems like a millennia of denigrating and snobbishly dismissing girl culture. But it look a long time.

And, like the end of every horror film, the dying trope might just come back, mutated and stronger than every, for another crack at the sisterhood.

A few months ago, when reading an article written as a callout for the death of the NLOG trope, one of my friends turned to a boy we both knew and smirked, “Don’t you think she’s reading into it too much?” Unsurprisingly, he agreed. It was a real “Carrie White reaching out of her grave to grab a screaming girl’s ankle” moment. The implication was simple: my friend was looking at this guy, telling him “other girls might care about this stuff, other girls might complain, but not me. I’m the cool girl.”

We can celebrate the NLOG trope falling out of fashion, but the internalized misogyny behind it will continue to mutate and reemerge, more specific and slightly different but still as ugly as before. As it evolves, we just have to keep evolving with it.

Otherwise we’ll forget: other girls are not the enemy, and there’s nothing wrong with being like them.

@rosielanners

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