Who are 'pick me girls' and why have they got social media in a spin?

·4-min read
On social networks, Kendall Jenner is one of the girls who is often labeled a "pick me girl."

After the "fit girl" and the "it girl," here comes the "pick me girl," a new trending term that is far from flattering. While sporty young women and fashionistas have seen their status raised on social media, the "pick me girl" is singled out for behavior considered hypocritical and demeaning. So what exactly is a "pick me girl"?

On social media, "pick me girls" are described as girls who say they like video games, never wear makeup and, above all, are not like the other girls. It's a term used to define people who are trying to be liked, hoping to be "picked" by others, by changing their personality and belittling their rivals. On TikTok, the #PickMeGirl hashtag now has 1.7 billion views, while #PickMe counts 3.4 billion views. And if these keywords are trending, it's because users are calling out the behavior of these people. The phrase "pick me girl" is most often associated with cisgender women wanting to attract the attention of men they covet by highlighting their love for activities considered typically "male," while also belittling other women.

On the Chinese social network, many users are denouncing this kind of behavior, often described as toxic and misogynistic. All kinds of videos show the different kinds of situations and behaviors that typically give a "pick me girl" away: "Don't be mad at me for not being like all the other girls," "I get along great with boys," "I prefer to be with boys because there's no drama"... Like many other content creators, the user @trippiereed has posted a series of videos where she mimics the kind of talk often associated with "pick me girls," to better denounce these sexist views. And her imitation appears to hit home with internet users: "Why is this so incredibly accurate?" comments one user. "I just noticed my classmate is a pick me," confides another.

A political dimension?

While there's no shortage of examples on TikTok denouncing the toxic behavior of "pick me girls," their critics go beyond the realms of romantic relationships and friendships to call into question the "pick me girl's" political convictions and wider beliefs. In 2021, a user called @mosesbabyyy explained this phenomenon by using the example of women who are against abortion rights. According to the TikToker, these women are part of the "pick me girl" phenomenon by preferring to support a patriarchal system at the expense of women's rights: "When you are supporting the suppression of women's rights, you are supporting the patriarchy and the old white men who run this country and don't believe women should have rights. If you are a female and you don't believe in women's rights, that's A, embarrassing, and B, it makes you a 'pick me' to the old white men who run this country. You're seeking approval at that point."

A sexist label?

So does liking video games and being friends with guys make you a "pick me girl"? On social networks, users make a clear distinction between people's individual preferences and what characterizes a "pick me girl": "It's only a "pick me" if someone goes out of their way to put down other women, having male friends has nothing to do with it," explains one TikTok user. "A pick me is a woman who puts down other women to seek male validation. That's all. People use it too freely," adds another TikTok user called Amanda.

However, for others, the use of the expression "pick me girl" is sexist in itself, since it only attacks those women who share hobbies and interests traditionally considered as "male" in the eyes of the patriarchal society. A good example was shared by the account @fluentlyforward , comparing Kendall Jenner, labeled on social networks as THE ultimate "pick me girl," and Cara Delevingne, who is not subject to the same treatment online. For Shannon MacNamara, the creator of the pop-culture-focused Fluently Forward podcast, the supermodel escapes this labeling due to her sexual orientation. Being queer, Cara Delevingne isn't subject to the same stigma surrounding hobbies and interests typically considered more "male" than others, such as gaming, or for her behavior, often viewed as eccentric (like making faces in photos or wearing quirky rather than sexy outfits). "Part of the problem is that we still use archaic gender-specific labels for activities. What is a tomboy and why is that still a label?" one user on TikTok points out.

Sabrina Alili

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