My Goodreads Quotes

Allison’s quotes

"Don't you think it's rather nice to think that we're in a book that God's writing? If I were writing a book, I might make mistakes. But God knows how to make the story end just right--in the way that's best for us."
Do you really believe that, Mother?" Peter asked quietly.
Yes," she said, "I do believe it--almost always--except when I'm so sad that I can't believe anything. But even when I don't believe it, I know it's true--and I try to believe it."— E. Nesbit

Thursday, August 11, 2016

YA Tropes I Hate: The Other Girl

Welcome to the last post in the YA Tropes I Hate, readers!  If you haven't read these yet, do give the first three a try:

She's beautiful.  She's popular.  She's flawless in every way, except for her poisonous personality.

She is the Other Girl.

There are a number of theories as to why the Other Girl appears so frequently as a foil to the Angry Girl.  Classically, evil often appears in the form of beauty, like the femme fatale.  In YA, she has a lot to do with our preconceived notion of popular high school girls.

Mostly, though, I think the Other Girl has a lot to do with insecurity.  The traits
that make her so eminently hate-able-- her beauty, her grasp of fashion and cosmetics, her social skills-- also make her exceptionally competent.  She gives off an extreme aura of having her act together.

And speaking in generalities, young women-- myself included-- don't feel this way.  Everyone has one aspect of their appearance that they're constantly trying to tame.  Everyone, that is, except the Other Girl.  She has already conquered the art of looking fabulous.

But the Other Girl's attack goes way beyond the average insecurities.  It is based on a simple assumption: that readers and writers are intrinsically more insecure than other people.

This may at first glance make sense.  Readers are traditionally considered socially awkward outsiders, who certainly could never master fashion or cosmetics.  They identify pretty heavily with the Angry Girl.  Readers would never indulge in a beauty as artificial as the Other Girl's.  Instead, they have their own inner beauty that has nothing to do with hygiene or cosmetics.

This possibly explains the sheer over-the-topness of the Other Girl's dour personality.  She's the antithesis to the reader.

And this is a stereotype just as narrow-minded and implausible as the Other Girl.

I am a reader and a writer, and I don't leave the house without mascara on.  I have a hair-makeup-clothes board on Pinterest as well as storyboards.  I know I'm not the only one like this.

Ultimately, that's the beauty of stereotypes: that they're not real.


Jemma Tainsh said...

Awesome post. The other girl never ceases to bug me. She's not even restricted to YA fiction, it seems as though she crops up everywhere!

As always, I admire the skill with which you write you YA Tropes posts

Blue said...

I sometimes find myself feeling sorry for the 'other girl', even if I don't always relate to her.

Allison Ruvidich said...

@Jemma- Aww, thanks, dear! You make an excellent point. I didn't realize how common she was until I did some digging, but the idea of a beautiful, slightly evil woman pops up everywhere. It's creepy! ; )

@Blue- Same! When viewed out of context (that is, distanced from her snappish remarks), I frequently have more sympathy for her than the Angry Girl.