Female personality shaming in the media is harmful to women’s progress

Alexandra Stettner

Every once in a while on my Facebook feed, I’ll see an article that is entitled “Why dating a *insert personality type here* will change your life”, which are normally targeted towards females. Anyone has seen these articles occasionally pop up on their Facebook news feed. I’ve seen multiple different articles for different personality types, including alpha female, extroverted introvert, a best friend type (yes “a best friend type” not even “best friend”), and some even highlight body types, including short, tall or any color of hair.

What’s interesting about these articles is that they all include similar reasons as to why that personality type is so great. For example, I’ve seen this one for multiple articles with different explanations, “she can make you a better man.” This might be true, but it isn’t exclusive to that personality type. Anybody can exhibit characteristics of being someone who can influence their partner for the better, as well as characteristics that may not influence their partner for the worse.

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The author in the article mentioned above describes “alpha females” as “living life in the fast lane” and “not the homebody type.” While this might be great for some partners, others might want occasional downtime and nights that are more calm. It all depends on what kind of partner you want, and what kind of partner works the best with your personality type. No one type is better than the other, and one personality trait is not a significant indicator of how the relationship will go.

As a result, I get the sense that these articles are their own form of bickering: arguing as to what kind of woman is the best, and ultimately excluding and shaming other kinds of personalities.

Another trend I’ve noticed with these articles, is that they almost exclusively discuss female personality types and why they are better for a man to date. Women have come so far in asserting their independence and equality with men, yet there are still these counterproductive underpinnings of comparison and competition.

When someone reads an article about why dating an extrovert is so great when they themselves are more of an introvert, it can create a sense that being an introvert isn’t good enough or well-liked. It can even go so far as prompting them to think that they need to change that aspect of themselves to fit an “ideal” personality.

Also in the aforementioned article, the author writes that these women who “live life in the fast lane” are “fun,” which essentially deems those “homebody” types not fun or interesting. 

While someone could see these articles as bolstering a person with that personality’s confidence, I think the language used in the articles, and the fact that the article will be seen by mostly those that don’t have that personality type – considering the personality discussed is only one out of many, many others – these articles are far more harmful to a woman’s self-confidence than they are helpful.

Things have improved massively for women in terms of political and economic equality, as well as our ability to support each other in the workplace, but as for social situations and support for their mental well-being, I find that women can really make improvements. There is such a thing as self-confidence and being proud of who you are, but when it becomes something that excludes or makes another person feel bad about themselves, then it isn’t worth it.

Collegian Columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @alexstetts.