The ever eventful TikTok algorithm has recently served a lot of ‘Pick Me Girl’ (PMG) content.
PMGs stand accused of internalising misogyny. They beg for acceptance, attention and approval from men. PMGs don’t wear make up, they love sports and male company, they’re cool, they’re chill and, mostly importantly, they’re ‘not like other girls’. And, based on this description, I’m a tiny bit worried I’m one of them.
I have a lot of PMG traits. I was branded a ‘tomboy’ from a young age. I have shunned traditionally ‘girly’ interests. I lived in a house with four boys at University. I hate wearing make up. I prefer the local pub to fancy bars or dinners. I’m obsessed with Marvel movies and I’ve read Lord of the Rings. The list could go on.
However, my PMG experience and interests contain far more nuance than the PMG portrayed in a sixty-second TikTok video.
I was the only girl in a house of four boys by choice, but I was also an anxious wreck about my failure to make a group of ‘female’ friends at University. I wanted female friendship just as much as I wanted male friendship. And I was paranoid about being ‘judged’ as a ‘girl who hangs out with guys’, as such women are usually the subjects of raised eyebrows and snide comments.
I hate wearing make up because I hate how it feels on my face. But I still wear it when I want to, or have to. I think make up is beautiful — I love glittery highlighters and dark winged eyeliners. It covers my acne and boosts my confidence. Make up is not a ‘bad’ thing, and women should be allowed to wear as much, or as little, of it as they like.
I like Marvel movies because I like Marvel movies. I have always liked them and I have always watched them. The fact my boyfriend also enjoys them is just a bonus. I would never feign interest in something to impress him and he knows this (I sit in a separate room when he watches football).
It’s silly, but these PMG TikToks have made me question the validity of my preferences and interests. Am I any less of a woman because I occasionally display PMG behaviours?
Ironically, the girls’ making PMG TikToks, mocking other women for having certain interests, or behaving in a certain way… are acting like PMGs.
PMGs stand accused of shaming ‘womankind’. Yet womankind shame PMGs, branding them obnoxious, self-righteous and entitled. PMGs inadvertently seek validation from men for their ‘cool’ interests. Non-PMGs inadvertently seek validation from men for shaming the ‘cringe’ PMGs.
This is the most unproductive discourse on internalised misogyny I have ever encountered. The TikTok PMG archetypes are not shining a light on problematic pick me girls, they are shining a light on something far uglier — women repeatedly tearing down women for their preferences, opinions, or behaviours.