Cara Delevingne. Image Source.
Chloë Sevigny, Emma Stone, Cara Delevingne, and Kristen Stewart are all ‘it’ girls. But they’re not regular ‘it’ girls, they’re “chill” ‘it’ girls. Meaning: the personality traits that give them their ‘it’ girl status are decidedly un-girly. They pull funny faces in photos, chortle in the middle of interviews, ignore the dress code at major Hollywood events, eat pizza, drink beer and are just, like, super chill about everything. They are the ‘it’ girls that “aren’t like other girls”. In other words, they are a myth wrapped in a riddle.
The ‘it’ girl label has always been about packaging up the desirable (but not quite describable) parts of a woman’s personality and look in order to sell stuff to other women. Maybe she’s born with ‘it’, maybe it’s [insert product name here]. Whatever ‘it’ is, you need it and you need it now.
In simpler times, Kate Moss, Kate Bosworth, and Alexa Chung were the reining ‘it’ girls. Their ‘it’ factor? Being pretty, skinny, white and wearing nice clothes. We admired these qualities and these girls, a dangerous enough phenomenon in itself, but we didn’t think about them on a daily basis. Flash-forward to the present day and ‘it’ girls are responsible for 90% of our Instagram feeds. The access that this app gives us to people’s “authentic” everyday life means it is easier than ever to make being an ‘it’ girl your full time job — it’s as simple as uploading every moment of your perfectly curated day to the ‘Gram! Even more dangerous than the space these girls take up in our daily lives is the illusion of reality attached to their personas. An illusion that makes their privilege and their perfection seem accessible to everyone, even though it definitely isn’t. That’s the whole problem with ‘it’ girls; they make things that aren’t real seem real.
This brings us all the way back to chill ‘it’ girl, who is made real by what she is not: she’s not high maintenance, she’s not aggressive, she’s not emotional, she’s just NOT, okay? The only thing she IS is chill. This chillness allows her to cruise through all her interactions, including her interactions with men, without making anyone feel uncomfortable with her icky emotions. It also makes her the ideal mate for the (already ideal) man, because she’s a beer-guzzling, carb-eating, no-fucks-given extension of him — just one of the boys! — rather than a complicated autonomous being.
By glorifying meaningless things chill ‘it’ girls do — she wore a beanie! She ate a burger! She didn’t even really care about that movie starred in! — as if they were somehow subversive, the media reinforces the same kind of gender stereotypes that have been holding women back for centuries. They give these girls the power to be like men, as long as they don’t do anything that actually challenges or offends men. The chill girl myth then is a gimmick that prevents girls from fully expressing their wants, needs and feels. It tricks women into internalising misogyny, policing themselves and emulating the behaviour of men without questioning it.
In light of all the shit stuff men did this year, we say to hell with acting like “one of the boys”! We are GIRLS and we are proud, angry, hopeful, strong, and definitely not chill.