Some of the blame for this can be attributed to growing up in the 2000s (in fact, growing up in the 00s can be blamed for a multitude of terrible things). The manic pixie dream girl ruled the zeitgeist, and it was the epitome of cool to only want to hang out with guys and be perceived as being “not like the other girls.” Lip gloss and mascara? “Ummm, no, I read books and listen to The Kooks,” I’d proudly proclaim, as if enjoying makeup couldn’t possibly co-exist with reading and liking indie bands.
Back then, it wasn’t trendy or desirable to be “girly,” and much of that mindset carried itself into the 2010s, where one’s performance of “girliness” had to be edged in grimy indie sleaze (think Tumblr girls with Dr Martens and ripped fishnet tights).
But now? Now the world is a spangled stage of pink and sparkles and unabashed “femininity”, to use a binary term. Barbie has brought hot pink to the forefront of fashion, spawning a wave of “Barbiecore” aesthetics and people are flocking to cinemas in brightly coloured droves. Beyond that, we’re embracing everything with the moniker “girl” – girl dinner, girl maths and hot girl walks, just to name a few. We’re calling each other “girlies.” We’re bursting with a newfound fervour for women’s sports. And TikTok is filled with women emphatically embracing the idea of being a “girl’s girl.” They're owning their camaraderie with other women and positively relishing the similarities and the sense of connection that comes with it. They are happily admitting that they are, contrary to what we've been told to avoid, just like other girls.
In some ways, the rise of the “girl’s girl” on TikTok is about pushing back against the notion that we need to separate ourselves from other women and craft personalities that are “different” from those of everyone else. Who among us hasn’t been told by a guy that we’re “not like other girls”, delivered in such a way that it’s intended to be a compliment? As if to be similar to other women is somehow to be less than, or undesirable in some way.
The “girl’s girl” says, in no uncertain terms, fuck that.
You might already be aware of the growing pushback against the “pick me” girl. A “pick me” girl refers to women who seem to take pride in actively reviling ‘girly’ things, often telling people they prefer to hang out with guys. They are perceived as tempering their behaviour with the need for male validation. (What’s important to note is that, more often than not, a “pick me” girl is just someone who is suffering from the plague of internalised misogyny.)
The “girl’s girl” trend presents itself as the antithesis to the “pick me” girl, and, at least right now, it does this with a sort of wholesome energy that’s rooted in a genuine delight at forging connections with women over our shared interests.
“I love being like other girls,” TikTok user Sierra (@averagesisi) proclaims in one video. “We’re doing the same activities. We will never speak, but that’s my girl for real.”
She sums it up: “we are not afraid of being like other girls.”
But although the popularity of Barbie might have brought to the light a shared love of pink that we previously tried to hide, the “girl’s girl” trend is not about a singular aesthetic. In fact, it’s not really an aesthetic at all. It is, if you’ll allow me a woo-woo moment, a state of mind.
Because beyond the delight in shared similarities, TikTok has been quick to point out the innate qualities of a girl’s girl. They’re the ones who check on you at parties. They defend you in conversations. They’ll never gang up with a group of guys to laugh at you. They hype you up. They put their friendships at the forefront. The list of attributes is glowing, which is perhaps why the world reacted with such an aghast intake of breath when Ariana Grande was labelled as “not a girl’s girl.” Way too harsh.
Now, I’ve long since deprogrammed myself from the type of thinking that had me actively denying myself sugary pop music, romance novels and reality TV for fear of seeming “basic” — but this trend still brings me joy and gratitude, nonetheless. Because whilst I might have aged out of that mindset, there are still plenty of young women who need to hear that there is nothing wrong with being like other women.