I’m guilty of stereotyping. I write a lot of comedy bits and a lot of them around certain stereotypes mainly because they’re relatable and easy to make fun of. But something that’s been bothering me lately are people that play to stereotypes. I never took the time to think about why it bothered me I just got angry and judged them and moved on.
This all started when it became cool to be “damaged”. Whitney Cummings, Max Black on 2 Broke Girls, etc. It’s funny, apparently, to have had horrible childhoods, be awkward, and have trust issues. This is the new girl. The truth is—it’s not. One of my comedy bits revolved around this and the close was the fact that I resented girls pretending to have these issues—they should earn it like the rest of us.
The stereotype that bothers me the most is the “awkward” girl (see Jessica Day from New Girl). I’ve been compared to Jessica Day by no fewer than six people. In all honestly I’m more like Nick but that’s a story for another day. At first I thought it was a compliment! I’m like Zooey Deschanel! I’m adorakable! Except in the real world people don’t embrace that. It works well on a thirty-minute comedy where everyone can afford Anthropology dresses and four bedroom lofts but never seem to go to work. In the real world “adorakable” and “awkward” aren’t met with amazing kisses from roommates and cupcake shops with ex-heiresses…it’s met with bullying.
I wasn’t going to write about this, I had to call someone to talk me through putting this on the Internet. I was told “the best writing comes from truth” so here goes. I’ve been kept out of events because, according to a superior of mine, “there is not enough medication in the world to help her awkwardness” (this was said to a co-worker of mine when she asked if I should be invited to a lunch, I happen to read it in a chat). I don’t get to go to lunch time mani/pedis, I don’t get invited to after work drinks, and they meet up in the hallway to avoid telling me their going out for “nacho Friday”. On more than one occasion I’ve sat fighting tears wondering why anyone talks to me, why my boyfriend loves me…I was embarrassed to tell him about this because maybe he’ll realize that I’m too awkward to date. The day I told him what that superior said I couldn’t get through it without crying. I didn’t want him to see me that way. That’s the real world of issues. It’s not the pretty blonde girl that writes “dark poetry” but has a standing date for “taco Tuesday” and the support of her “girls”. It’s really lonely and alienating to be awkward and have issues.
It’s not the pretty picture painted on the hit comedies of today. It also doesn’t make it any easier. You would think with the influx of “damaged” leading ladies people would be more accepting. I mean, listen to Whitney Cummings talk about why she writes about her damage….according to her (during the first season of Whitney) it was to explore these issues and help women dealing with them. By season two her quote was “Whitney is done with her damage”. That’s it. That’s all. Ratings tanked because no one wanted to laugh with the hurt girl so Whitney gave up her damage.
But it’s still cool to be “hurt”. For some reason women think this gives them depth. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in a bar listening a girl say “oh my god I’m going to have a panic attack”. It drives me crazy. People with panic disorder don’t flaunt it because when it happens it’s terrifying and embarrassing and you are completely out of control. It’s like someone walking into a bar and saying “can I have a beer? I’m a raging alcoholic because my parents were drug addicts and I was abused.” Damage is damaging because it’s keeping a secret. It’s something that you keep from everyone; it’s your own secret shame, it’s the darkness that eats away at you, the little voice telling you, “you can’t”. So why do women play to this? Because the new consensus is it’s attractive. Everyone wants to be attractive don’t they?
Everyone wants all eyes on them…why? This is my other irritation with playing to stereotypes. In walks the beautiful bleach blonde with the big boobs and all eyes go to her. That’s the goal right? To be lovely? But what attention are you truly attracting? Is every pair of eyes on you belonging to people with good intentions? Or are they going to judge you? Are they going to isolate you? Are they going to keep you out of the loop because: “look at that girl. What a slut.”
It’s easy to sit here and type, be yourself because “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” but in the real world it hurts to be judged. Like I mentioned before, I was gutted when I found out that these people thought me “too awkward to live”. I didn’t want to tell anyone about it because I was embarrassed. When I told my boyfriend he said to me, “yeah, you’re awkward and you’re weird.” That was it. He knew and he didn’t care. It was those traits that he liked about me. So as hard as it is to “let your freak flag fly” it’s worth it because you’ll find the people that don’t mind. But if you go around pretending to be damaged…the attention you get…will just cause real pain.
So today on International Women’s Day I beg everyone to just be you. Give up what you think is attractive and just do what makes you happy. Who cares if someone doesn’t want to take you to the lunch time mani/pedi, or thinks you need meds–if it’s your true self someone else in the world will find you and love that part of you. Don’t go with the current fad. Always stay with what will better you as a human being– I promise you it will not be wallowing in your pain or trying to appear to be something your not.