Do ‘Pick-Me Girls’ Deserve the Hall of Shame?

‘Pick-me girls’ is a concept referring to women who go out of their way to impress guys to be “picked”. In due process, to try and be picked, they would mock the stereotypical feminine characteristics and adopt stereotypical interests of men instead. Claiming to be “not like other girls”, they are what a gen-z would call – an imposter.

Do 'Pick-Me Girls' Deserve the Hall of Shame?
Image Source: Early Game

It is a concerning characteristic because they often lose their individuality in an attempt to impress the men in their lives. They would also gladly dismiss women and their issues by looking down upon them. 

However, the internet, being the internet, thought that the best way to deal with this behavioural problem is to turn it into content. And thereon began the ‘pick-me girl’ name-calling bandwagon. It was a trend back in 2016 when misogyny was as easily circulated as hashtags. Now, it has a whole bunch of content creators dedicated to calling out the pick-me-girl behavior. There was the #TweetLikeAPickMe, TikTok trends, and influencers bashing pick-me-girls for not being ‘true to themselves’. 

In other words, the internet built a toxic response to a rather toxic behaviour.

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Image Source: Jezebel

Hence, I come with the question, “Do pick-me girls deserve the hall of shame?”

The Mandatory Disclaimer:

I tried understanding this from another perspective, and here’s everything I thought of the idea. But before we begin with the pick-me defence, I would like to acknowledge that it’s not a perspective everyone can afford to take. 

If I were a victim of the hate and insults thrown by a pick-me, I sure as hell would not sit and think of a defence for why they acted the way they did. Nor would I justify it by saying, “It’s okay; the hate comes from a derk place”. 

I can think without an angottum-ingottum illatha manner now, only because I haven’t particularly had to deal with such behaviour. So, the anger/annoyance that many victims hold against a pick-me is very much understandable.

I’m simply here to offer a piece of my mind. And to convey that such behaviours might come from terrible insecurities. None of which you are responsible for, or you have to act on by reciprocating hate with hate.

Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Liked?

The core idea behind pick-me culture is to be liked and chosen out of a sea full of mathi’s and natholi’s. This is a behaviour that every human, at some point in their life, has exhibited. We have all wanted to be liked or have sought approval from someone. Be it for that red-ink star from our teachers, the dress we ironed for an interview, or even a job we got to impress our parents. These are all actions driven by our need to find approval and appreciation in some form.

The pick-me girls are an extreme form of this attention-seeking. For them, to be liked by the opposite gender is somewhat of a life mission. They would gladly lose out on their personality for this and would incorporate mannerisms that are assumed to be “likable” for the opposite gender. 

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Do 'Pick-Me Girls' Deserve the Hall of Shame?

This behaviourism begins to affect people around them when it reaches the point of putting down other women and manipulating relations. They might aggressively try to level up on the “being-liked-scale” by insulting other women and making themselves sound like a better woman. As a result, turn their life into a live-action mode of clash of clans where they protect their made-up territory.

Barbie Ayye, Oppenheimer Pwoli

A way through which the pick-me’s were identified earlier was by observing those who denounced stereotypically feminine behaviours. They would hate pink and wearing makeup (stereotypically feminine ideas) and would instead pretend to like watching sports, cars, and shoes. (stereotypical male associations). 

However, over time, this association also proved to be toxic. For many, it was simply a way they chose to identify rather than to be “picked”. Women liked sports, cars, and shoes, and the male figures did not necessarily influence those in their lives. Similarly, men like makeup, pink, and other typically feminine aspects because they might associate with them.

Image Source: Modula Gallery

Another way in which people were labelled as “pick-me’s” was their expression of anti-feminist thoughts. 

The feminist movement has been misinterpreted time and again as a “jatha against men”. And so, it was a common sight to see many men being repulsed by the idea of feminism and labelling feminists as “feminichis/ feminazis/ ival matteth’aa”. Now, to be liked by these very men, what’s the obvious thing a pick-me would do? Stand against the movement and dissociate themself from any such women’s movement. Their disapproval of feminism was mostly a way to align themselves with men rather than a disagreement with the idea of women’s equality. 

However, a=b and b=a, these women internalize misogyny and sexism to sound “cool”. (Of course, there are some women who are misogynistic because of their privileges, experiences, or just because.)

Popular culture also played a huge part in asserting such elements. Women who voiced their disapproval towards feminism and other feminine elements were deemed “chill”. This gave the pick-me’s the boost of confidence they were seeking from men.

And this is just about the tip of the iceberg of subconsciously internalized misogyny, which underlies mostly in this discourse. 

Moola-Kaarnam for Oola-Behaviour

I’ll give you a simple example to understand how ridiculously internalized this notion often gets. During my hostel days, I met some of the most brilliant women whom I treasure even to date. But there was this cringe point in our lives, where we claimed that we preferred the company of male friends because “girls are so much drama”.

This was a statement casually said in a girl’s hostel.

In the confidence OF girls TO fellow girls. 

What for? I still have no clue.

Did any of us find men less dramatic than women? Obviously not.

Did we think that statement on girls being dramatic made us sound cool? Kind of, yes. 

It gave out the notion that we, unlike said ‘dramatic girls’, are those who steer away from drama and live a chill life. 

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Do 'Pick-Me Girls' Deserve the Hall of Shame?
Image Source: The Phrase

Growing out of that cringe phase, I started seeing how even a simple statement such as that comes from our subconsciously internalized misogyny. We have been taught or shown that certain characters of women are demonic while men are the beings we have to aspire to become like. And guess who imprinted these ideas? 

The patriarchal system indeed, m’ladies.

It’s Ultimately Korangande Mannerisms

If we are to continue finding root causes, we can go all the way back to evolution. It was a very primal thing for apes to do stupid shit to impress their mates. Some animals even tore apart other males to impress the females. Thankfully, we have evolved from that stage at least. 

Pick-me’s, on the other hand, continue to exhibit some amount of this ancestral behaviour by doing weird stuff to get another moderately-developed ape to like them. At the root of it all, it’s just the desire to be chosen and feel loved.  Many women manage to step out of such pick-me-tharam once they are hit with velivu and velicham. So, some might see through these toxic patterns and take a step back, while some others may continue to be trapped in this vicious cycle.

For those inside the cycle, the ones who have stepped out and questioned this system would seem like “vazhithettiya penungal”. And I can keep calling the trapped ones “vazhi mudakki’s” for as long as I want. But does it do any good?

This is where I had a conflict of opinion about calling out pick-me’s. 

Image source: India Glamour

What the pick-me trend does is nothing more than demonize those who are stuck and stubborn. Sure, I’ll get a manasugham just by giving them back a dose of their own medicine. But then what? 

I’m not saying everyone has to sit patiently and moral police each and every pick-me. No one’s got the time for that, and this is precisely why therapists get paid for what they do. But to make life a lot easier, it would be better if we could understand that their behaviour is a projection of the system and their insecurities rather than of who they are. 

Shaming Trauma in the Name of Trends

What started as an innocent and funny trend spiralled out of control and became another stick to beat women. It gets even more worrying as people now have varying definitions of pick-me’s, and they think it’s okay to harass just anybody who fits that notion. It could be someone who cuts their hair short because they like it that way or someone who is blatantly sexist. There’s just no clear line drawn anymore. 

To me, pick-me-ness simply sounds like a behavioural problem that roots out of either:

  1. Unhealed trauma from not getting enough attention
  2. Ideas constantly fed by the patriarchal and misogynistic systems.

With the kind of information and resources available, people have been able to see through toxic patterns and understand when something does not sit right. Some others are either too stubborn to step out of this pattern or can’t see the harm they cause.

This too, could be because their entire life has depended on this validation provided by men. A woman with so much internalized misogyny might not even be able to see the cringe stuff they do for a man’s approval. 

Do 'Pick-Me Girls' Deserve the Hall of Shame?

What I’m trying to say is – ningal nannayi ennum parany naatukaarum nannavanam enn illalo? 

It’s good for you if you’re among those who are learning to love yourself and have stopped letting others decide your value. It might not be that easy for someone else to do that. Especially someone who has always had to fight for attention from the male figures in their life. This leaning towards a man’s approval is often a subconscious behaviour, and there are chances their entire life is a stonks graph with a man deciding where to pin their value. 

Again, I have no real solution but have to bring my rant to an end

An article by Modern Intimacy summarizes it perfectly by saying, “pick me girl’s beliefs and actions can be annoying at best and sexist at worst.” For them, this is a way of living they are familiar with, and anything that threatens this structure is a threat to them. So, they start spitting out venom to protect themselves and their standing among men. 

Now, we can decide whether to shield ourselves from the venom or start producing our own venom. (I ended up making venom shooters sound like a cool superhero quality. But I hope you realize the right answer, in this case, would be to shield yourself.)

While we don’t have to accept such problematic behaviours, we could try to ignore them or place the picture for the pick-me’s. Many articles suggest employing empathy, but this is not something I believe everyone can afford to do either. If I am someone who is struggling to love myself and continue to be thrown under the bus by a pick-me, my retaliation can affect both my mental state and the pick-me’s facial structure. 

Regardless of where you stand on the discourse, the underlying problem is that women continue to be policed either by their environment or other women. Ending it as such might require people to be kind to each other, along with creating a safe space for women to be transparent about themselves.

On a practical level, it might require a lot more – such as having everyone magically dismiss traditional gender norms and stereotypes. Men, women, and every other gender should be able to live on their own terms.

This was my two cents on why I think we should stop hating on the so-called ‘pick-me’ girls. And as always, you can head to the comment section for a healthy discussion.

Laxmi Mohan
Talks about everything from pazhampori to aanavakaraar charcha. But absolutely sucks at writing bios.

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