Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where they discuss certain topics, share their opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.
JUNE 11: “I’M NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS” TROPE (Suggested by DANI)
Prompts: How do you feel about the “I’m Not Like Other Girls” trope in general? Have you ever seen the trope done well? Did you ever think you were “not like other girls” OR think that a girl you know wasn’t “like other girls”? Why do you think this trope became so popular? Do you think this trope can be damaging?
Welcome everyone to another week here at LTB! Another interesting topic this week, I think I notice this kind of trope more often in YA novels, although it does rear its head in the mysteries and thrillers occasionally too.
Honestly, I am never looking for this trope. It’s fairly overused, and doesn’t add much value to a story for me. I’m sure it’s been done well, but I think when it’s done well it becomes more of an undertone (setting a protagonist apart), rather than the usual blatant “she’s not like other girls” trope. Thinking back to my high school English days, a novel (almost?) always has a protagonist that is somehow set apart from the others – “noble birth” I think it was called back then. This could be like a special power, literal noble birth, or some sort of outcast perhaps, but either way, I hope it’s not only for the sake of being different from other girls.
I think the main problem about this trope, although this is also probably the main reason it’s popular, is kind of in the definition of what a “regular girl” is. Now I don’t claim to be a spokesperson or even a subject matter expert here, but I’m pretty sure the main definition of what a “regular girl” is supposed to be is super condescending and not looked upon kindly (e.g. ditzy, vain, soft-spoken, etc.). This should not be perpetuated at all. But again, in (at least Western) society, I am not surprised how this becomes the main view, and girls who are strong-willed, sassy, goal-driven (my fave protagonists!!!) are suddenly “different from other girls”.
This trope can definitely be damaging. I imagine that girls (and non-girls!) of all ages will be reading such novels and assessing themselves according to what is being portrayed as desirable or non-desirable. There is something to be said about being unique and your own person, but I don’t think it’s that necessary to define yourself by how you compare to others. I feel that that could possibly lead to unhealthy mindsets.
Is there even really a real thing called a “regular girl”? I feel like society arbitrarily defines what the average girl should be like. But I seriously doubt that if we assessed the traits of everyone on earth and put them on a scale, that we’d come up with any standards of what a “regular person” should be. As unhealthy as toxic masculinity is towards boys, I feel like this “not like other girls” trope could also cause the same damage. Obviously it doesn’t necessarily cause damage, but I think there is that danger when the trope is so widespread.
What do you all think? Am I just overthinking it? I don’t personally hate the trope or anything, it just doesn’t feel like it adds much value for me, and I don’t try and compare people to what I think they “should” be. However, I do really enjoy reading books where the female protagonists are “not like other girls”, haha! That doesn’t mean I have anything against the characters that aren’t though. But see where that distinction is? By putting one type on a pedestal, you inadvertently push down others, which I think is where the danger lies.
Do you all agree? Or maybe I’m just a bit over-sensitive. Let me know in the comments below!