top of page

The "Smart Girl" Trope in Media Perpetuating Unrealistic Expectations

Smart girls are all the rage these days - the "smart girl" trope in popular media is becoming a staple of modern television. Some common characters such as Rory Gilmore, Alex Dunphy, Hermione Granger, Lisa Simpson, and Lindsay Weir embody this trope, representing ambitious and intellectually driven young women. However, the normalization of these characters raises questions about their impact on viewers. Does the "smart girl" trope offer inspiration and the potential to achieve greatness, or does it foster unrealistic expectations for academic success?

Be it Annabeth Chase, Blaire Waldorf, or any other “smart girl” portrayed in media, these characters are intentionally exaggerated, designed to get a laugh out of an audience, or add a dramatic flair to the storyline – not being necessarily accurate. But scrolling through hours of “Rory Gilmore Aesthetic” or “studying like Spencer Hastings” TikToks makes one realize that “smart girls” don’t just fulfill their onscreen roles; they inspire young girls to be their "smart girl" idols, despite their completely unrealistic depictions.

Therefore, as the trope becomes more common, it’s easier to blur the line between fiction and reality, causing one to relate to these characters on a personal level. When Rory Gilmore pulls an all-nighter to study for a Chilton exam, we, being impressed, may do the same, disregarding the practical limitations of such behavior. When we see everything that Alex Dunphy puts herself through to get into CalTech, we may find ourselves feeling as though we are not doing enough. Either way, it is easy to feel like you’re not living up to your full potential when someone onscreen seems to be working ten times harder than you, and being ten times more successful, even though these people have unlimited time to devote to achieving. Because they aren’t real. Although scrolling through aesthetically pleasing academic montage videos makes you feel as though you should put in more effort to live your “Rory Gilmore Era”, it is important to realize that popular media has tricked us into academically competing with young women who don’t even exist.

The "smart girl" trope in media presents a double-edged sword. While it has the potential to inspire and empower viewers, it also perpetuates unrealistic expectations and can contribute to academic and mental health pressures. Hence, it is important to recognize that we are not fictional characters; we are real individuals with unique circumstances and limitations.

97 views9 comments
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page