I can’t help but feel invincible whenever I get dolled up. There’s power and satisfaction in seeing my efforts pay off, like when people notice the new blush technique I learned on TikTok.
After feeling so good about myself, I’m greeted with a snarky “bakit ka pa nag-ayos? Ako nga nakapang-bahay lang,” by a certain girl I know. I shrug it off, maybe I am too much. Who cares? I look good. After defensively acting like I didn’t catch her negative tone, she tops it off with “sobrang arte mo, papansin ka masyado.”
I’ve been a kikay girl for as long as I can remember. My day isn’t complete without my hair and makeup routines, which boost my mood no matter how time-consuming it is. I’d even risk skipping breakfast and running late all for a perfect winged eyeliner.
I’ve already embraced the fact that this is how I am. But the happiness and confidence that I’ve cultivated get undermined and torn down when other girls project their distaste for my choices. You’d think that girls would have each other’s backs. But where are they coming from when they act like this?
Pick-me girl is a term inspired by Meredith Grey’s infamous “pick me, choose me, love me” line on “Grey’s Anatomy.” The term has circulated online since 2016. It’s a term that categorizes girls who seek male validation and repress characteristics tied with femininity. Then there’s also the term “pick-me boy” where men put down themselves as a manipulation tactic to make women feel bad about them. Both kinds of this pick-me attitude feature a self-deprecating attitude to fulfill their personal interests.
But this “pick-me girl” attitude stems from the male gaze and the internalized misogyny it perpetuates within us.
We live in a world that systematically caters to the patriarchy. This manifests through the shows that we watched growing up; women characters are often written by men. In turn, people’s perception of what women should be like are influenced by these characters. Think of Mikaela Banes from the “Transformers”: a hot girl who loves cars. Never really encapsulating what women are and conveniently only indulges male protagonist and his interests. Basically, she doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, she’s a male fantasy presented as ideal.
But the male preference for pick-me girls is currently doing a 180. After leaps in women empowerment and the reckoning that came with the #MeToo movement, men are back to craving subservience; they want the traditional, conservative girls back. So, people label the girls who prime themselves to be the “wifey type” as the pick-me girls since they seek male validation.
It’s a never-ending cycle of the male gaze and women falling victim to it.
Relationship expert Catherine Wilde explained to Refinery29 that women do this as a wooing tactic “in which an individual attempts to increase their chances of being chosen as a mate by engaging in behaviours that make them more attractive to the opposite sex.”
You may be wondering: Why do they even want to be “pick-me girls”? But let’s take into consideration that their views are a product of the continuing male domination in culture, politics, and economy. As you read this, you may think that you’re the high and mighty one for not conforming to the male gaze, but labeling pick-me girls is as misogynistic as well because what if the girl genuinely doesn’t adhere to feminine qualities?
Gender identity, expression, and roles are constructs. So we can’t generalize and say that girls who don’t like to be feminine are automatically pick-me girls. There are women today who are not feminine to denounce gender roles. To label anyone a “pick-me” because they’re “not like other girls” is misogynistic. Nobody has to conform to femininity if they don’t want to either.
The solution to this long-standing stand-off among women is strengthening our collective and organized movement to bring down patriarchy. Women wouldn’t feel so threatened if men didn’t pit them up against each other to satisfy their wants. Let’s be reminded that these women that are labeled as pick-me girls are not our enemies, but fellow victims of systemic oppression that teaches us to rely on and be governed by men in power and the systems they’ve created to maintain this.
Macho-feudal, patriarchal society has always been against women, so we need to stick up for each other. If a girl wants to be in full glam for her 8 a.m. class, cheer her on and remind her to eat brunch so she doesn’t get woozy from skipping breakfast. If they’re not harming anyone, let women enjoy things. Let them be the type of girl they want to be.