By Lulu Carter
For most millennials like myself, college graduation was nothing short of a rude awakening. With entry-level positions few and far between, we were pressured to settle for jobs unrelated to our bigger dreams and couldn’t help but feel salty about our “over qualifications.” It was a hard pill to swallow after years of building our extracurricular resumes (and being constantly surrounded by people who seemed to have immeasurable faith in us). What was this liberal arts shenanigans we had put ourselves through? The endless exploration to find something that we were passionate about left us with extensive, and now useless, knowledge in postcolonial feminism or the art of Def Poetry Jam.
Because fulfilling our parents’ expectations is unlikely for many of us, we use self-deprecation as a way to make light of our lifestyles that have yet to pan out as gloriously as we’d hoped. The popularization of self-deprecating behavior in mass media has given rise to a new female millennial archetype; one that has been adopted as a personal brand by many young women today. She is known for her tendency to humble herself through humor, and has been dubbed by comedian Yael Kohen as “Brooklyn Girl… a well-educated liberal arts grad with a degree in English and no real skill set. Upon entering the real world, she eventually realizes that she has no plan or patience to pursue her dreams but has the endearing ability to laugh at herself.”
Quirky and shameless, “Brooklyn Girl”’ has a fast-growing fan base. She plays a lead role in HBO’s “Girls,” Fox’s “New Girl,” CBS’s “Two Broke Girls,” and is the mastermind behind Tumblr’s celebrated #whatshouldwecallme meme site that boasts over 1,000 retweets per day. Even famous fashion blogger Leandra Medine pays homage as expressed in her memorable title, The Man Repeller.
In “Girls,” Lena Dunham arguably plays the most raw and uncut version of this archetype. She embellishes her strange nervous ticks, and her inability to control her weight––occasionally lamenting over the internship that may never turn into a real job. It’s freakishly similar to how my friends and I talk about ourselves.
Still, the “Brooklyn Girl” archetype, rooted in self-deprecation, is something to question and consider. Making fun of ourselves can be funny and diffuse doubts about the future, but are there repercussions to be had for a twentysomething girl who continually rants about her fears of living alone with twelve cats or being the world’s best 40 year-old intern? How long before these statements become more believable and true in our own minds than we’re willing to admit?
As experts in brand, being tuned in to the ‘“Brooklyn Girl” effect is important. While she evolves the playful, witty archetype of The Jester by poking fun at herself to help others have a good time, it may be at the expense of her own self-esteem in the long run.