At the ripe age of 20, I’ve wasted a lot of time wondering what “type” of girl I am. After endless quizzes about which Sex and The City woman I am, which Gossip Girl character, which Gilmore Girl, whether I’m a Daphne or a Velma, I’ve finally realised just how ridiculously pigeonholed and fetishized these different “types” of girl are.
We are not just whores or madonnas; we are so much more than that. All this categorising is exhausting, and it’s just not necessary. In fact, it’s damaging. I hate to hop onto the bandwagon, but take a look at Love Island. All I seem to be seeing is people comparingthe women on the show as “types” of girl: the girl who has fun, the girl who sits and judges, and the girl whose only interest is men. These women are not one-dimensional, and nor are the girls watching at home. Fifteen-year-olds should not be sat watching, trying to match themselves up. In this way, women are encouraged to see themselves slotted into particular categories, and encouraged to ensure all parts of their personality fit into said category.
As a little girl, I was always the clever one, and in my head, that meant I couldn’t be anything else. When I was 16 I had a boy tell me I couldn’t be sexy, because it just wasn’t me. Why not? I’m intelligent and driven, and therefore I can’t also be sexual? I’m a Carrie, so I can’t behave like a Samantha? I realised that just because an exaggerated version of me does not exist in the mainstream media, does not mean that I am an invalid individual, the point that I finally banished ideas that my characteristics clashed, the point when identity crises fizzled away. I was lots of things, and I was not to be pigeonholed. Men aren’t, so why should I be?
Yes, there are male archetypes that plague the media: the hero, the one who never gets the girl, the geek, etc. The difference is, as society and media have developed, so have these male representations. We don’t want to see men as one-dimensional stereotypes, we want our characters to be layered, like they are in the real world, so Clark Kent gets to be the nerd, the hero, and the one that gets the girl, whereas career-driven females are always portrayed as the childless bitch (see endless articles about Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May), and the mothers exclusively the sensitive, ambitionless madonnas. Women in the media have no range, apparently, or at least that’s how people want us to see them. They want us to see women shoved into our set types, so that we can’t see our own selves developing into anything more than one or the other.
Stop trying to compartmentalise us into Carries, Samanthas, Mirandas, and Charlottes, when those characters were specifically designed to portray exaggerated versions of particular characteristics; these are not real women, so stop trying to make us emulate them.