Eckburg: TikTok promotes sexism and internalized misogyny

Bella Eckburg

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

I’m sure that you have heard the phrase “I’m not like other girls.” It’s become popularized as a meme about young women who separate themselves from female stereotypes due to not fitting into the mold. They’re “not like other girls,” and that’s the reason they should be desired more than a “regular girl.”


This meme that we so frequently see on TikTok, compared to reality, is niche. You might know someone who does this, but you’re more likely to know someone who makes jokes about it because it has grown into a phenomenon across the internet.

Assigning yourself to the “not like other girls” culture is stunting your growth and outwardly projecting internalized misogyny. Use TikTok at your own discretion, but make sure that you are aware of internalized misogyny/sexism, and check yourself.

According to a Psychology Today article, internalized sexism is “the tendency of some women to regularly put down, make disparaging remarks about and/or sabotage their own or other women’s and girls’ identity, potential and success.”

In an interview conducted by Forbes with Kieran Mathew, CEO and founder of Amplify, a marketing company, Mathew stated, “More than 40% of TikTok users are aged 16-24, and 90% of those users go on the app more than once daily.” With TikTok having amassed over 2 billion global downloads as of August, according to CNBC, this means a significant amount of college students across the country find themselves browsing TikTok at any given time and exposing themselves to the messages it offers.

Being “not like other girls” is not a bad thing. It’s more than OK to not fit into stereotypical feminine roles. But we can see a shift occurring: Those who are “othering” themselves from stereotypes also discourage potential partners from having an interest in girls who are “like other girls.”

The TikTok algorithm is designed to curate every user’s “For You” page based on their app history (liking videos, following other users, etc.). For those who are interested in learning more about TikTok’s algorithm, Louise Matsakis wrote a great article for Wired on the way the algorithm works and how content is distributed on the app. 

“So ‘you’re not like other girls.’ That’s fine, but what’s wrong with being like other girls?”

You are interacting with content that matches the interests you have. Those who have similar interests are then also grouped together into sides, which TikTokers named Straight and Alt.

Straight TikTok is known for users such as Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae, who are known for their videos of them doing popular dances. Alt TikTok is known for more edgy content featuring e-girls/e-boys, eccentric fashion/makeup, etc. Alt TikTok is also known for engaging with trends popularized in the LGBTQ+ community, making them less likely to be consumed by mainstream (straight) media. 

There is a rivalry between these sides of TikTok. They’re so divided that the memes created on one side will often not translate to the other and will likely be misunderstood. 

This rivalry is fun. Neither side actually dislikes the other, but it’s become a new way of othering yourself. Which side are you on, and what does that mean for your identity as a young person? Or as a young woman?


“I’m not like other girls,” falling on the Alt TikTok side, is not just about being unique; it’s about being “better” because of your uniqueness and putting those you deem less unique down for being too stereotypically feminine. As TikTok grows in popularity and new users continue to increase, separations form and, due to being so covert, become normalized.


i just love it when girls #fyp #foryoupage #lesbian

♬ original sound – rcoveringhetero

So “you’re not like other girls.” That’s fine, but what’s wrong with being like other girls? 

The point of being a human being is having a personality that’s influenced by many factors, so why is it that women are put into boxes meant to define them? Answer: misogyny!

It’s understandable why women push the boundaries of what represents femininity and erase the stereotypes surrounding women. We deserve to express ourselves in every aspect of our lives and do that without judgment, especially judgment from other women because men already do that enough.

The bottom line is this: Women are allowed to like things. I know, groundbreaking, but it’s true. You can listen to Beartooth and also enjoy shopping at Lululemon. These things are not mutually exclusive. 

Being “not like other girls” is a more covert form of expressing internalized misogyny. It is something that people wouldn’t think twice about participating in. Internalized misogyny is something that requires active self-reflection in order to be addressed. The division in TikTok lends to an increase in wanting to be seen as unique. 

TikTok represents an entire generation of minds looking at legitimate social problems, even if it’s through jokes. Because TikTok has become divided, there is more potential for the creation of a toxic space. Let’s remember that being “not like other girls” is really only going to get you so far.

I’m proud to say I’m exactly like other girls, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Bella Eckburg can be reached at or on Twitter @yaycolor.