Kill the ‘cool girl’


Katy Babcock

The cool girl is an unrealistic and damaging trope designed by the male gaze.

Katy Babcock, Copy Editor

She’s the effortlessly perfect depiction of the male gaze. Her interests coincide with that of her male contemporaries like a puzzle piece. The cool girl is what every guy desires and many women long to be. 

Though unrealistic and, frankly, impossible, the image of a “cool girl” is a tempting trap set by patriarchal standards for women to fall into. 

Similar to the “manic pixie dream girl” trope, the cool girl is everywhere in modern media. We see her thin but curvy body downing glasses of beer or at sporting events in rom-coms. Or silent but sexy and supportive latex-wearing superhero sidekicks like Black Widow. Not to mention the wide spectrum of “cool girl” in sitcoms.

Smart cool girl, Rory Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls.” One-of-the-guys cool girl, Donna Pinciotti in “That 70s Show.” Casual cool girl, Robin Scherbatsky in “How I Met Your Mother.”

But what is so wrong with women having stereotypical male interests? 

Nothing is wrong with that, the problem with the cool girl ideation is that she is only allowed to engage in so-called manly activities because she is conventionally attractive. Across the board, aside from being masculine, all cool girls share one key similarity: they’re physically appealing. 

“Miss Congeniality” is a classic rom-com. Protagonist Gracie Hart is the laughingstock of the FBI for her tomboy tendencies. It’s not until she receives a full-blown makeover that her masculinity is found endearing. 

This is detrimental to women everywhere as it projects an unobtainable standard for them to attempt to adhere to. Altering their interests and bodies to be the cool girl every heterosexual male desires, women surrender the nuances and quirks of their real personalities. 

High school student Vidya Kasichanula condemns the trope. “It’s as if these women are designed to have no substance. They’re merely a reflection of the men around them,” said Kasichanula. 

Male validation is so intrinsically coveted by women that the cool girl complex’s popularity persists; despite it perpetuating the harmful idea that women derive their worth from men. 

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” is another impeccable illustration of the apotheosized cool girl and her “unlikeable” counterpart, the caring girl. A dichotomy of desirable and undesirable, the former being preferred. 

“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” is one of junior Brie Howell’s favorite movies. “I don’t think it was intentionally sexist but it is heavily reflective of the internalized misogyny that went unnoticed at the time. I still watch it and enjoy it but I recognize its faults,” mentioned Howell. 

After adorning mainstream media through the 2000s, the cool girl was vilified by bestselling author Gillian Flynn. Astutely said by Flynn in her novel “Gone Girl,” cool girl is, in reality, a contemptible and fictitious ideal that men drool over. 

Girls can be cool, but they shouldn’t only be deemed cool by forcing themselves into an uncomfortable cookie-cutter standard that only exists for male pleasure. The cool girl is a facade, and nothing more, so it cannot last. Eventually, the act will die and so will the fraudulent relationship it was built on. 

For many young girls, the cool girl is a belief heavily subscribed to. Acting feminine is distasteful to the point where “girly” is an insult. Pleasant Valley junior Alene Keppy is not a fan of the cool girl complex. “This trope feeds into misogyny. It implies that a woman can only be admirable by denouncing femininity,” Keppy said. 

We must continue to dismantle these destructive tropes and instead encourage women to be themselves, for themselves.