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We're Allowed To Like The Same Things


*Audrey Hepburn is confused by her phone and your stereotyping
Being female means living in a world where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. This statement applies to many instances across the board, but on my mind today is being "a cliche." If you act as if your interests are unique and so different from all of your friends you are diagnosed as suffering from "special snowflake syndrome" (which I do believe exists to a degree). However, if you happen to engage in more popular interests then you've become a cliche. Do you enjoy Audrey Hepburn films? Of course. Apparently all of your interests must be run through a machine that sorts out the too obscure from too well known and hands you the nice middling interests at the end that places you in a safe camp where no one can complain that you're trying too hard to be different or one of the mindless drones.

The definitions are a cliche are: a trite or overused expression, or a person or character whose behavior is predictable or superficial. Being predictable isn't necessarily an insult, but treating an interest because it is common as if is automatically superficial, is an insult. Treating shared interests between women as "cliches" encourages competition between women instead of friendship and makes young women think it's somehow better to be unlike other young women. While we have stereotypes for jocks I've never heard someone called a cliche for liking baseball or football; I've never heard it's a cliche to love fried food or going to the beach during the summer. Can you imagine if we turned every popular activity or interest into a cliche? Yet, young women who enjoy posters of the eiffel tower, Starbucks, and selfies with fall leaves are just so typical. It's not wrong to be different--to have more male friends than female ones or find black and white films boring, and to hate pumpkin spice lattes or generally feel many of your peers "don't get you." The last thing is merely part of life and perhaps and indication you need to expand your friend group. However, it is wrong to think that your different interests somehow render you superior.

I get the pull to align yourself with the different; as a fashion blogger I don't really want to wear the same dress ten other bloggers are wearing. But while trends annoy me I feel it is sillier to dislike something merely because it is popular than to admit to enjoying something others also like. A lot of people being fond of something can be an indication of quality--I'm more likely to stop at an unfamiliar restaurant if the parking lot outside of it is full or if I can see people at the tables inside, if the locals eat there it's pretty trustworthy. Why can't we apply this same reasoning to fashion trends, movie stars, or anything else? People get tired of hearing college girls hanging up a poster of Audrey Hepbrun from Breakfast At Tiffany's on their walls, but they overlook the other admirable qualities of that past starlet which make her a good role model--someone who worked tirelessly as a humanitarian and is quoted as saying "for beautiful eyes look for the good in others" is hardly an icon to be ashamed of.

This all reminds me of a quote by Ira Glass, "I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, I only believe in pleasures. People who call reading detective fiction or eating dessert a guilty pleasure make me want to puke. Pedophilia is a pleasure a person should have guilt about. Not chocolate." I try to think of that quote when I see judging eyes rolls at my admiration for Sofia Coppola films or even fashion--it's wonderful that other women enjoy what I also enjoy and their participation with my hobby or interest doesn't diminish my relationship with those things. I want us to like the same things. Good things are worth sharing.

18 comments:

Katie.A said...

I absolutely love this post! You have a knack for taking experiences that are common, yet difficult to explain, and describe them with a wonderfully readable flow! You constantly inspire me to pick up a pen or run to my keyboard and write. <3

Gloria said...

PREACH!

Danielle M. said...

This is a wonderfully well-written post!

When I was around 12 years old, the Harry Potter books were a exploding amongst my age group, and seeing how popular the books were only made me want to read the books less. I didn't want to like what everyone else liked. Oh no, I was different! Fast forward to a year or so later and I finally pick up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I loved it! I soon became a Harry Potter fanatic and enjoyed the heck out of the rest of the series.

This taught me the lesson that you mentioned here. I learned that I shouldn't shun what is popular because there might be something about it that will speak to me as well. As obscure or popular as someone's interests may be, they are what they are!

Great quote, by the way!

Marizona said...

I love everything you post, but this particularly resonated with me because it's so damn true.
You've written exactly what goes on, and captured a huge source of "girl hate" perfectly.
Thank you! ^-^

Christine said...

Wonderful post!!

I absolutely agree, and I feel like the pressure to be different is especially strong where I live, in New York. The hipster culture in NYC (and I'm sure around the country) is such a conundrum: To be "cool," you need to be different. However, if everyone's being different in the same way, then there's even more pressure to be different in a different way.

And I also agree that the problem is especially bad for women--you don't hear about football being a "guilty pleasure" for men, but are women often forced to apologize for their love of anything "stereotypical" (romantic comedies, Audrey Hepburn, etc., etc.)

-Christine

Melanie said...

Just came across this post and I absolutely love it. I hope you keep posting things like this. Big hugs girlie!

xo Mel
turquoise blonde

reckless daughter said...

This is such an interesting post and more interesting still that you would use Audrey Hepburn as an example.

While I totally agree with you and I do think our society loves to pit us against each other (hello, I'm trying to navigate the music biz which is rampant with this :) I would like to throw in another element…and that is being protective of things you have "discovered" on your own and feel deeply connected to. I think this is far more common when you are younger but here's an example. I loved loved loved Audrey Hepburn when I was 11 or 12 – none of my peers where into her at this point. I had come across Breakfast at Tiffany's on TCM or something and subsequently devoured all the films I could get my hands on. I hung posters (obscure foreign ones of course ;) read biographies and then…dun dun dun… a younger cousin of mine hung up a poster and said she was a fan too. Suddenly more and more people seemed to lay claim to Audrey and in my mind (as silly as that is) it lost some of the specialness. To this day I have to force myself to be ok with admitting I am an Audrey fan because I was scarred by it. haha But I do wonder where that feeling comes from! and had I discovered her in a group would I have cared less? Why should it matter that millions of people like something that you like. Does that really sully your connection to it? Anyway :D clearly this totally hit a nerve haha

PS: loving the new design which is why I was popping by!

Bianca Y said...

That quote at the end was just perfect. A great post, well written, and (as ironic as it is to say regarding this subject) it's a really fresh take on the topic.

Mee. Mee said...

Can not agree more. Brilliant post

MsNotWeirdAtAll said...

Thank you for this post. I read it several times.

http://msnotweirdatall.blogspot.com

MJ Wonderlander said...

You hit the nail right on the head.

Sonya Mann said...

Yes!!! This reminds me of one of my favorite Tumblr posts, by afrodontist: "I am like other girls because other girls are cool."

Michelle | CreatureType.com said...

Rebecca, you always write the most thoughtful things in the most clear, understandable way. I always read your posts completely and then pump my fist like "YES!" I could never articulate my similar thoughts as well as you!

This post is lovely and I so agree. <3

KATHRYN GOWER said...

Beautifully said. Honestly, I might be the one who "needs to expand your friend group" because I would love to find more people who love audrey, full skirts and colored tights and, you know what, MIXING BLACK WITH BROWN! I crave finding people like me or at least who don't judge me for being different from the matchy-matchy's. The blogosphere is the only place so far where I have found those like me. I sure hope the people who I follow don't resent me for liking things they do. If I were to blog my style, likes, interests I would do so to let people know there are others like them, not just for pure self-expression.

Nikki Williams said...

so much wisdom in this post. love<3

xxoo,
nikki

www.dreaminneon.blogspot.com

Anna said...

Ahh this is a perfect post. Tavi Gevinson made some sort of remark on her Rookie site about how if liking something so typically hipster (like Wes Anderson movies for example) then I am a hipster. I terribly paraphrased that, but these kinds of ideas that are pillars in hipster ideology of having to like things or not liking things make me mad.

You're spot on. My comment is merely an "Amen."

Anna said...

I really like Christine's comment, too. It's way more a female problem than for men which is disheartening. But it's all in how each individual treats it. The mindset can stop so easily if a person just decides it. This will be a new goal for me!

HaleyPants said...

I am just so in love with your blog, always brightens up my day. :)