Why the ‘Chill Girl’ Stereotype is Bad for My Mental Health

Features. Posted 9 months ago

Lucy Jones

Chloë Sevigny is the coolest chillest girl. Image Source.

Externally a ‘chill girl‘ is so bloody relaxed that they’re horizontal. When she’s not drinking tinnies, she’s watching episodes of Curb or listening to trap music (ironically). She owns at least 10 pairs of sneakers, wears mostly jeans and t-shirts (but importantly, can also break out a thot look on the weekend), and doesn’t do make-up. “My boyfriend takes longer than me to get ready”, she insists. The chill girl is self-deprecating in a charming way and never takes life too seriously — she’s one “that’s what she said” joke away from transforming into a full-blown comedian. When she does a BuzzFeed quiz, her result is always Jennifer Lawrence. She barely expresses emotion and is never needy. She’s kinda like a boy, but a hot boy with sass. On the inside however, the chill girl is your standard mixed bag of aspirations, anxiety, and feeeeelings — pretty much everything that her chill exterior is not. And that’s because the ‘chill girl’ is a myth.

At this point, I have a confession to make: I prescribe to the chill girl stereotype. For evidence of my apathy please see this “Whatever” sign a co-worker bought for my desk after knowing me for just a few weeks:

Apart from making me kind of the worst, this life choice is also bad for my mental health. It means that I often engage in destructive eating and drinking habits, lest I be accused of dieting or eating a salad. Ew, embarrassing! I also have a lot of trouble expressing my feelings. This means my needs are rarely raised and rarely met in romantic relationships. When it comes to talking about hard stuff like sex (lol, hard, geddit?) I turn everything into a joke. In fact, the first time I told my boyfriend I loved him I said it jokingly. I had to repeat myself a few times before he realised I was serious.

The tricky thing about all this is that the chill elements of my personality are internalised to the point where they feel like a natural part of ‘me’. If I stopped playing pool at the pub, what would I do with my weekends? If I didn’t take the piss out of everything, what would I have to offer in a social situation? If I wasn’t a chill girl, who would I be? I also genuinely like doing ‘chill girl’ things like drinking beers, eating burgers and making dad jokes.

I spent my adolescent years trying to show adult men I could consume huge amounts of food. “You won’t be able to finish that!” they said, so I ate and I ate until I felt sick. I developed a weird sense of pride in my ability to eat lots of shitty food and I still eat pasta most nights. This is so dumb because a) eating bad actually makes you feel bad physically and mentally, and b) saying “I can eat whatever I want!” is the most privileged and annoying thing a slim white woman could ever say. My laissez-faire approach to dieting is complemented by the occasional bender, a combo that serves to keep my mental state nice and fragile. This is a dangerous place to be in if you’re not great at talking about your feelings…

A chill girl can have feelings but she should express those feelings the way men do, i.e. not at all. Some embarrassing evidence of this phenomenon can be found in my text message history. I’m an articulate woman with a fairly good grasp of the English language but when it comes to making plans with my significant other my capacity to express myself disappears. G2G. Laters. Good luck! I begin to use phrases that are so light and airy that they could float away on a cloud of all the fucks I used to give. With the mental acuity of a parrot, I sprout out meaningless sentences that are vague enough to mask my real feelings. This isn’t helped by the fact that my boyfriend could also be described as a ‘chill girl’. When he asks me “What’s doing?” I reply “Chilling”. Obviously. This exchange gets even more painful when I ask him what he’s doing and he sends back: “Chilling”. I hate us. Do you hate us? When one of us finally spits out a “Do you want to hang out?” the painful planning process begins:

“What do you feel like?”
“Idk what do you feel like?”
“I’m easy!”
“Yeah me too”

Cool answer birdbrain! Reflecting on these actual texts that I have sent, I’m not sure how I’ve managed to sustain a relationship at all. I do have the capacity to make plans, but for reasons of seeming relaxed and casual I engage in a coy dance of ellipses and sunglasses Emojis. I realise that to an outsider this process is slower and more frustrating than your average lawn bowls match. Special shout outs to the friends who stayed with me through the early stages of my relationship at which time I forced them to help me construct elusive text messages on a daily basis.

So what am I going to do guys? …guys? Assuming that only the chillest girls humans are still with me, here is my advice to you (and to myself). Advice one: start pushing back against your bad chill girl habits. Do you really want to go watch “the fight” at the pub? If not, don’t go! Advice two: start channelling your lax attitude into things that will make you feel good; stop feeling self conscious about ordering a salad and a sparkling water FFS! It’s chill. Advice three: start expressing your deepest, realest, squishiest needs because god knows you’ve got ’em. If it’s too hard for you to say something out loud write it down. Baby steps my chill bebes. Making these small changes in our daily lives could help us all to become the well-rounded (but still chill) people we’ve always wanted to be.

Some background reading:

The ‘Cool Girl’ Myth Has Just Been Replaced with the ‘Chill Girl’ Myth