On the surface, the film’s basic message is that in order to find love, you need to be yourself. But that only works if “yourself” is as cool as Andy and not as crazy as Michelle, which is the dichotomy on which this plot is based. And so Andy’s actions became a rulebook for straight women everywhere. Attract men like Andie, like Michelle…you’ll scare them all away.
I’m trying so hard to be a cool girl, especially with guys I dated in my early 20 years . I pretended to be interested in sports (“Please tell me what offside means”), I lied about the music I listened to (“Oh, I like unnamed 20 disco!”), Even adopting gamer parlance, bragging about how I did in “COD” (Call of Duty) “Better than Halo.
” I hope the guys I date don’t think I’m like other girls. My interests matched theirs, and I didn’t need, push, demand, or have any authentic agency beyond what they felt they could give me.
Sadly it worked – I’ve seen firsthand that this is what men want me to do. Take the ex who once described his type to me as “casual and cheekbones,” both of which are key Cool Girl traits. I don’t have either – but I do my best to hide my feelings by following the instructions and watching contouring videos on YouTube.
I know this may sound ridiculous. But even now, in 20, when I meet someone I like, it’s hard for me to stop myself from putting on my Cool Girl act. Part of it was because I was so terrified of being labeled the opposite.
The way this movie pits Andy and Michelle’s behavior against each other is a master class in internalized misogyny. Sure, they could be close friends, but there’s a clear power dynamic at play, as Andy is “cool”, superior to Michelle, who is emotional and vulnerable, and is usually coded in the straight dating game for “mental” states. One is acceptable, the other is not.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the movie’s fault – I still enjoy watching it. Its message wasn’t the result of a bad script, but ingrained sexism that not many people questioned at the time. Still, the lessons it and the rest of pop culture taught me about love have remained elusive.