How Hollywood Demonizes Ultra Feminity

How Hollywood Demonizes Ultra Feminity

Akki Kodumur, Journalist

How Hollywood Demonizes Ultra Feminity-

       Have you realized that all so-called “villains” in coming of age movies are typically a popular, girly girl, who like clothes, and shopping? Some examples include Sharpay Evans from High School Musical, Regina George from Mean girls, Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl, and many many more. In many films, you can notice that Hollywood seems to like tomboys but hate girly girls. They always seem to be compared to each other. Like opposites attract. Examples include Jane and Roxy in New York minute, Tia and Tamera in Sister, Sister, or Bianca and Kat in 10 Things I hate about You.


       In many films, you can also see a “nerd”, or “tomboy” lured into the “girl world”, and changes her appearance, just to go back to the way she is just in time for the end of the movie.  Examples include Mean Girls, What a Girl wants, The Princess Diaries, and more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the storyline of recognizing your true self is wrong, but it is overused to make the girly girls seem like superficial monsters. I suppose there are a few movies that could counter my argument like Legally Blonde or Clueless. These movies counter my argument and defeat the stereotype that blondes are dumb, or that they are incapable of any mature subject, which could be why they did so well in the bow office. But today I am here to tell you why it is such a common stereotype in Hollywood and even reality. 


       Sayings like “The dumb blonde” or “Blondes have more fun” might have influenced the character of a popular, mean, girly girl. In movies, TV, and literature, she’s often portrayed as a character that holds other women back. But, for much of western history, girliness was the default. Historically, the nobility had very exacting standards of dress that to our modern eyes look pretty girly, and Girly Girls were status symbols for families. Girls acquired status through performing girliness and converted that status into marrying well; in other words, their job was to be pretty and marry whoever their dad said they should marry. It was an essentially passive life plan, one where having too much individuality or drive would get in the way of popular narratives, the Girly Girl often finds herself paired with a Tomboy. It’s the girl equivalent of the jock-nerd dyad. 


       Contrasting your girl characters in how feminine they present is a simple, immediate way to distinguish one girl from another. The problem is that these two characters tend to receive very uneven storytime and characterization. Often, the Girly Girl is just an accessory to the other girl the writer wants us to emotionally invest in. Since girliness has long been the default, the Tomboy automatically draws our attention for her originality and courage. The Tomboy actively defies social norms, while the Girly Girl appears to be passively conforming. And when the romantic lead applauds our Main Girl for being “not like other girls,” the Girly Girl is those other girls. As a final observation, you can see how common this stereotype is in movies, and how Hollywood takes advantage of it.