As Sillett calmly and methodically picks up clothes from her floor, the methodical, unrelenting way she folds and puts them back down becomes a steady, almost hypnotising metronome, over which she delivers a calm and confident monologue. I’m Not Like Other Girls offers a series of glimpses into the desperately awkward experience that is female puberty: sexual self-discovery, body anxiety, falling in love, and everything in between.
Sillett divulges mortifying secrets without flinching. At first we smile nostalgically at tales of school, of the ‘popular crowd’, of stuffing her bras with tissue paper; or we get a little choked by the hatred she flippantly displays for her own body (a hatred with which many women will be sadly all too familiar). Then we become angered by the way Sillett describes her deeply entrenched internalisation of patriarchal values as though they were fact. Feminists in the audience will want to scream out at the smug ignorance with which she details her reasons for believing that women just are weaker, sillier, inferior.
But when we hit Sillett’s eureka moment, it is all the more refreshing for having been delayed by so much internalised misogyny.
Frank, illuminating and delivered with bitter clarity, I’m Not Like Other Girls is at times a deftly funny portrayal of teen angst, and at others a dark nod to the way our society treats its women: to the impossible standards to which women are held, to the violence they are subjected to, and to the ways in which they are punished if they fail to conform. Outcasts, losers, oddballs, or any girl who has ever said, “But I just prefer hanging out with boys!” will relate.
I’m Not Like Other Girls played at theSpace @ Jury’s Inn on 9 August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information see the Edinburgh Fringe website.