How I Wasted My Teenage Years Trying To Be 'Not Like Other Girls'

illustration of sad black woman with long hair
PHOTO: COFEEE / GETTY IMAGES

You've probably heard a woman make an argument for her ~coolness~ by claiming that she's "not like other girls," or maybe a dude's used the phrase in an attempt to compliment you. Either way, its "better and hipper than thou" connotations usually come from a place of misogyny, internalized or otherwise. I would know — I was one of the "not like other girls" girls.

I was always one of those kids who didn't like being told what to do. I especially hated feeling like I had to do something that didn't make sense to me. As a result, I rejected fashion, most makeup, nail polish, and anything else I perceived to be "girly" as a young girl — and the more I felt like people wanted me to pay attention to those things, the more I hated them out of principle.

There's nothing wrong with not liking or being interested in feminine stuff, to be clear, just like there's nothing wrong with loving it (and that's true regardless of your gender, BTW). 

What was wrong about my anti-girly attitude as a teen was that it morphed into a hatred of my fellow girls. I thought I was better than them merely because they embraced fashionable clothes and wore jewelry that wasn't leather cuffs — and in the process, I denied myself a lot of fun.

I was too broke to try much of anything after high school, but once I graduated from college and was able to get a decent job, I decided to grow up and venture into this so-called girly stuff — which I just so happened to end up loving.

I mean, it's a joy to try out new eye shadows and lipstick colors. And nail polish? I never knew how satisfying it could be to have colorful nails. (And they're so smooth!) Plus, I can't believe I went so many years without trying face masks. They make your skin feel so good.

Body scrubs. Bath bombs. Pedicures. Fancy conditioners that smell like candy and make my hair soft and silky. I still don't understand fashion, but I've finally realized that things I once dismissed as "girly" are actually things that made me feel pampered and good. And I missed out on that for my entire teenage life.

If I could give one piece of advice to teen girls, it's this: You're not better than anybody else because of what you like, how you dress, or how many Hot Topic T-shirts you own. People are just people, and there's nothing wrong with trying something that doesn't necessarily match the image you've cultivated for yourself. 

And above all, just have fun.

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LINDSEY WEEDSTON

Lindsey Weedston is NOT a social justice warrior. Clearly, her class is bard, with extra points in stealth and a little taken out of charisma. She's also a HUGE nerd, and can often be found gushing about video games. She even participated in a LARPing exercise once. Not nerdy enough to know what that is? Google it. You'll see.

Lindsey is a life-long feminist and writer and likes to color in adult coloring books with gel pens. She writes on LGBT+ and mental health issues, and will ruin your favorite childhood TV show with her feminism. Nothing you love is safe. Have a nice day!

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