“You’re Not Like Other Girls”: A Compliment or an Insult?

You're not like other girls. A compliment or an insult?

You’re not like other girls.

I’ve heard people use this line a couple of times. I think I can try to understand the idea behind it. Perhaps they’re trying to suggest that you’re not like other girls because you’re unique, and they like that about you.

But on the other hand, it suggests that other girls are trash. I mean, why do you have to put other girls down to give one girl a compliment? If you want to call someone intelligent, just say “you’re intelligent”. I don’t see why you need to qualify it by saying “you’re not like other girls – you’re intelligent”, because this implicitly suggests that other girls are not intelligent. I find that very unsettling. And frankly, if you’re insulting other girls, then the girl you’re trying to compliment should feel insulted as well.

Another similar statement is “you’re prettier than all your friends”. Sheesh! You’d be a really awful friend to be delighted to hear that. A simple “you’re pretty” would do – you don’t need to put down a girl’s friends to call her pretty!

I really like the lyrics of “Most Girls” by Hailee Steinfield. The video starts with a scene where someone ‘compliments’ her by saying, “You’re not like most girls”. And then she leaves and breaks into song, saying:

Most girls are smart and strong and beautiful
Most girls work hard, go far, we are unstoppable
Most girls, our fight to make every day
No two are the same
I wanna be like, I wanna be like most girls

I find it interesting that she recognises that “no two are the same” but still concludes “I wanna be like most girls”. I think that aptly illustrates how calling a girl unique is different from telling her that she’s not like other girls. The former is recognising something special about the girl, while the latter is almost like recognising a ‘defect’ in other girls that this particular girl does not seem to have.

When I hear someone say, “You’re not like other girls”, my intuition is to think, “Is there is something wrong with other girls?” Perhaps the person holds stereotypes about girls in general, so when they meet a girl that doesn’t fit into those stereotypes, they say she’s not like other girls.

So, in my understanding, when Steinfield says she wants to be like most girls, of course she is not saying that she wants to lose her individuality; rather, she is recognising and celebrating the intelligence and strength and beauty of girls in general.

Of course, every girl has specific things about her that makes her different from other girls, and indeed other people. So if you want to compliment her for those specific things, then I would advise you to just say “you’re unique”, instead of trying to compare her with other girls.

I’d love to hear your opinions. Do you think the “you’re not like other girls” line is a compliment to one girl, an insult to other girls, or both?

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2 thoughts on ““You’re Not Like Other Girls”: A Compliment or an Insult?

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