Look. I know, it seems like being the girl “everyone loves to hate” has some significant perks. Veronica Lodge had really good clothes. Blair Waldorf knows how to rock headbands. Brenda Walsh was the only interesting person to watch on 90210. All of them are girls you can love to hate, and all of them are compelling, and they all have really great hair. Another thing they have in common is not being real people.
I know. I know, in spite of that, being the girl people love to hate can seem superficially appealing. There’s a line in one of my favorite books, Some Girls, (all the books with authors we interview are my favorite books) where the main character states:
“You plot. You scheme. You jockey for position. You take revenge. Isn’t that the person you want to be? Or do you want to be the girl with the steadfast, good heart, the girl who gets stepped on, the girl you inevitably wish had less screen time because everyone else is so much more interesting?”
To be fair, she was in the Sultan of Brunei’s harem at the time, so I think some allowances are made for “royal court intrigue” situations.
And then there’s this piece on XoJane stating:
Honestly, all of this makes me think of a defining little moment in my journey here at xoJane. One day last week, when Jane and I met with a few different production companies regarding a potential reality show, she accidentally let drop the one-liner she had on me. In front of me. It was a total awkward brilliant mistake. It just slipped out. “She’s the girl you love to hate,” she said. Everyone nodded. Uh-huh. Right.
I think that people who know me — and perhaps Jane, too — recognize my kindness and introspection and resistance to the easy sadistic urges that come with working in this industry. But if my role on the Internet is to be the “girl you love to hate,” then I suppose I will learn to accept that. I am tired. I am not trying to emotionally manipulate or subject other people to anything other than the journey that comes with personal memoir. And now I am saying: I understand. I get the game behind the game. I am the girl you love to hate.
It’s nice to finally have a place to call home.
Huh? What? No. No, that’s like people saying “I guess you guys think I’m a sociopath, and I’m going to celebrate that and run with it. I’m running in spiked heels over children now. Freedom to be the kind of woman I want to be.” No. Don’t do that. Especially if you think you’re a kind-hearted person, because it seems to indicate that you’re communicating in a way that people are misinterpreting wildly.
Look, I know that sometimes it is fair to say that people are just haters. I think this is especially true when it comes to kids. The kid who gets teased by his peers for memorizing every fact about dinosaurs is going to grow up to be a fantastic paleontologist, and possibly make glorious theme park with real dinosaurs. The kid is great. Jurrasic Park is great if things don’t go wrong. Kids just don’t like kids who are different from them.
However, by the time you’re an adult, if the way you are communicating is such that people enjoy hating you, maybe it’s time to consider how you can change that. Maybe you can tweak it a bit. Adults do not generally hate you because you’re an adorable oddball who loves dinosaurs too much. They generally hate you because you are doing things that seem unkind, or disruptive to society at large, or destructive to yourself and those around you.
And, while this is interesting in a movie, real life is not a movie. Movies and television shows end in a matter of hours. Real life drags on for years. Which is unfortunate if you are doing crazy, unkind, self destructive stuff all the time, because people’s attention span for that nonsense generally lasts about two hours and thirty minutes.
So, instead of exclaiming, “I accept that you hate me, haters!” sometimes it’s a good idea to look at the critiques you’re getting. It’s worth seeing if there’s any validity to them.
Are they about how you love dinosaurs too much? Those critiques are meaningless. Forget them. Not everyone is going to love you all the time, certainly.
Are they about how you are presenting yourself in a way that seems self-absorbed or mean spirited? If you think those critiques are not true, then you’re communicating in a faulty way. Think carefully about ways you can communicate so you’re not being wildly misinterpreted. Maybe it’s just a matter of phrasing yourself slightly differently, or leading with a different slant.
If you think those critiques are true, then, for heaven’s sake, stop being an asshole.
Being an asshole is not an act with staying power (except for Karl Lagerfeld, and he is commonly thought to be out of his mind). Because, while in movies and TV shows we might remember the character who was zaniest, and who we “love to hate,” in real life we tend to remember the people who helped us and who we admired the most. Seriously. Think of everyone meaningful in your life. Think of the people you would donate a kidney to. They are generally not girls who plotted and schemed and got revenge on everyone around her.
That’s why being the girl everyone loves to hate is only a good idea if you are in a movie and all of the action is going to be over in a very brief period. If your life is going to last for exactly two hours and 30 minutes, and you have absolutely no legacy to protect, by all means, act like a crazy asshole in a last, desperate bid to get someone to remember you. But for the rest of us, maybe it’s better to go through life trying to be, well, likeable. Because while those might not be the people might not be the wildest to watch for a brief time, it’s people who are able to connect to their fellow man that we remember in the fondest way.
And if you need an example of a girl you can love to love, who is still pretty memorable, I’d like to introduce you to Josephine Baker.