So, What Exactly Is A “Brooklyn Girl?”


The short answer to this being, I hope, “a Brooklyn-residing woman with a reasonably active inner life who wouldn’t spend her limited time on this earth reading a chick-lit novel called Brooklyn Girls.” Or, “this is not a thing that exists, people are individuals.” But, these are the kinds of questions we’re sort of forced to ask now—at least, you are if you have time on your hands and blog about Brooklyn for a living—with the release of Gemma Burgess’ Brooklyn Girls, and its heralding, per a great piece over at The Cut, of a brave new era in which the “Brooklyn Girl” is not only a bonafide thing, but an incredibly marketable, lucrative one.

There’s that show on HBO, of course, a slew of planned reality shows and assorted marketing ploys, and even another “young girl doing ca-raaazy shit in the big city” book, Iris Has Free Time, in which our 2013 heroine says of blackouts (a favorite theme in most depictions of the “Brooklyn Girl”), “‘I prefer to call them pink-outs, because I’m a girl.'”

So, we can stop right there and take a minute to assess: have you ever met anyone, let alone an adult woman living and working in Brooklyn (working is key here) who 1) would ever say anything resembling “pink-out,” 2) is generally well-liked and considered to be something of a trend-setter among her peers, and 3) you have ever interacted with by choice, more than once? No?

Well what about a 22-year-old who lives in an inherited Carroll Gardens townhouse (!!), works at a Soho PR agency, boasts of “ironic use of passé slang” like “bodacious,” describes their closest friends on this earth as “all fashi-tude” or “uptight as hell,” and casually caves in the ceilings of her elderly downstairs neighbors, then makes fun of their accents when they complain? Or has an arsenal of weird post-coital bon mots, like “I am a feminist. And all that shit.”

Jesus, I hope not! Well, maybe you do know someone like that, in which case, sorry. But the point is, I refuse to believe this is the norm, or even validate it further by talking about all the other ways one could describe an archetypal “Brooklyn Girl,” or why it’s futile and sort of gross to try to invent such a person to begin with. Or by reading more of these books than the parts you can see for free on Amazon. If there is money to be made by transplanting some sort of collective mid-90’s West Village fantasy life into Brooklyn and changing a few key details to make it fit, far be it for me to get in the way of a dream. And Brooklyn is a big, diverse, occasionally terrible place! Maybe there are a few people out there who genuinely live and behave this way. I just hope I never meet them.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.


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