That typical Western girl - Macleans.ca
 

That typical Western girl

The truth is more complicated than the stereotype


 

She’s the picture of privilege, the epitome of entitlement. She’s the girl you love to hate. She’s the “typical Western girl,” or TWG for short.

When I asked friends and fellow Twitter users to describe her, it seemed that everyone knew what I was talking about. They rattled off physical descriptions: blonde, pretty, and fond of Ugg boots, Lululemon yoga pants or Ray Bans.

Aside from the look, they told me what makes a TWG is her personality, behaviour and, most importantly, her financial background. She’s well-off to the point of being spoiled. She doesn’t care much about school. Primping and partying are her priorities. She’s everything a good teen movie villainess should be. She’s Regina George, the Queen Bee from Tina Fey’s flick Mean Girls and living in London, Ontario.

I went to the University of Western Ontario for five years and two degrees, graduating last year. Although I wore Uggs for all six weather-permitting weeks of the school year, I wouldn’t call myself a TWG, and neither would many women there. On a recent trip back, I observed people who fit the physical description of TWGs, though they now have iPhones and Canada Goose jackets too.

It got me wondering about where the stereotype came from. It’s easy enough to laugh about, but how accurately does this stereotype reflect reality on Western’s campus? And why does the label stick at Western, when you can find people who fit the description at any Canadian university?

Western students like to joke about the stereotype. We even had our own parody Twitter account: @wstrngirl. She bestowed us such unforgettable gems as: “explain to me again why i can’t major in Astrology?” and “is anyone accepting summer applications for an It Girl?”

I asked the ladies behind the @wstrngirl account—now all graduated and working–what they were trying to achieve. I thought maybe they were trying to use satire to show that the women who attend Western, for the most part, don’t fit into that stereotype. It turns out that their aims were more humble. “We didn’t set out to break any stereotypes,” says Romina Cortelluci, one of the creators, “we just wanted to create something our friends could relate to.”

Alicia DeBoer, another one of the @wstrngirl creators, added: “I think this account proves that Western students can laugh at themselves.”

But Western students aren’t the only ones laughing. Recent grad Monica Blaylock, class of 2011, tells me her new friends often give her a hard time for being a Western girl, despite lacking most of the qualifying attributes. She’s got dark brown hair, works as a web producer and only wears Lululemon when she’s kicking butt at the gym.

“I consider myself to be pretty far away from that stereotype,” she says. But just the fact that she went to Western is enough to get her teased and stuck with the TWG label.

So what is it about Western that makes us so prone to the TWG stereotype?

It can’t be that Western has the wealthiest student body in the province, because it doesn’t. Queen’s University takes the crown for requiring the least Ontario Student Aid.

It can’t be that Western attracts airheads, either. The incoming grade average in 2011 was 87.6 per cent, according to the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities. The University of Toronto, which dodges the blonde bimbo stereotypes, only had an 85.1 per cent incoming average.

So if it’s not the reality, why all the ridicule? I think I have the answer. Western is one of the nation’s top universities, with in-your-face purple pride, so it makes sense that other schools might feel the desire to knock us down a few pegs. If other schools pin a dumb, rich-girl reputation on us, they don’t have to feel so bad when we surpass them in certain ways.

For starters, we’re home to some of the top athletes in the country. We’ve won the Vanier Cup six times, second only to Laval.

On top of that, our degrees are highly sought. We have an 82 per cent employment rate after graduation, compared to 77 per cent for the rest of the Ontario’s universities.

Not to mention our campus environment is rated more supportive by its students on the National Survey of Student Engagement than most other big schools in Canada.

With all this going for us, it’s easy to see why other students might propagate the TWG stereotype. Jealousy can make people do some ugly things. I guess we can’t help it if we’re popular.


 

That typical Western girl

  1. I graduated from Western in 2011, and I can say that I never fit into the TWG stereotype. For one, I’m not super skinny and I’m over 5’5.” I didn’t party, I didn’t wear lululemon, and I didn’t have long hair put into a big messy bun. I grew up in London, and there really is an attitude that these girls have, and if you don’t fit in with them or own the things they own, they don’t bother to see you. I mean, I didn’t shop the “Victoria’s Secret” website in class, own three perfectly stacked Tiffany Bracelets and go downtown every weekend, but that’s not necessarily what it means. The attitude of these girls is SO spoiled and they act so priviledged. One of them once asked me where I was from and when I told them I grew up in London, they replied “Oh, that’s too bad.” I don’t know if other universities in Ontario have so many girls with this attitude, but to me it is misrepresentative of a lot of really smart, genuine, and hard working girls that actually go to Western to learn, not to socialize. For a while in first year, I wanted to be in that group, but by second year, I accepted it and stopped comparing myself. I think having these girls go to school and embrace the stereotype (because it seems that many girls LIKE being called TWGs) may even make other students who do not fit this category feel that their university experience is lacking, since they are always comparing their lives to what the TWGs own, do, and look like. Much like many people “facebook compare” their lives to others and think that they don’t add up, I fear that this may happen at Western too. I now go to Fanshawe College for a post-graduate degree, and immediately made friends, I find everyone extremely friendly, and absolutely no air of self-entitlement.

    • you’re also ugly, so that excludes you from the get-go.

  2. I’m sorry, they’ve won the Vanier cup 6 times… football is the only measure of athletic prowess?

    Who wrote this, a recent Western alumni?

    • The article says a recent grad wrote it… did you read it?

    • We also have the top squash team in the country, as well as the top cheerleading team. Our hockey teams both kick total ass and we have one of the best student rec centers out of Canadian universities. So no, football isn’t the only way we measure our athletic prowess.

      Also yes, the article was written by a recent western alumni.

    • Yes, football and hockey are the only measure of athletic prowess. I hope this response was informative and enlightening.

  3. Um. Get over yourself. No one holds this stereotype besides Western students themselves. Nobody else really cares.

  4. Cue the responses of “wuck festern”. But to be realistic it is true, and I don’t go to Western so I’m not biased. But whenever me and my classmates chant or diss Western, our arguments are pretty dumb. I’ll be honest, western undergrads are generally smart, athletic and have a lot of pride for their school, and I think this whole wuck festern thing is expressed from our supression of lack of school spirit.

  5. Waterloo’s employment rate after graduation is 92.5%, suck it Western.

    • lol that employment rate is only for engineering or comp sci grads. if we’re talking specifics, Ivey has a 95%+ employment rate. so YOU can suck it.

    • Having gone to both schools I can tell you write now that Waterloo literally has nothing except eng and math going for it compared to Western.

      Better girls, better parties, better people, better looking campus, better athletics, better city, better bars. Waterloo even has a weird arrogant “intellectual vibe” so they’re actually far less friendly despite the rich kid vibe people worry about at Western.

      I’ll give Waterloo the bussing and a tiny percentage of employment but switching was the best major decision I’ve made in my life. You missed the whole fun of university if you stayed there for your whole degree. Hope you get a sweet gig cause you missed out BIG TIME.

      • Oh and don’t even get me started about school spirit hahaha

  6. I was reading through this article, but at about the 3/4 mark it changed and started to sounded extremely juvenile, and 10th grade popular.

    Then the Jealousy card was pulled…is this a joke? What are we reading? Is this a Gossip Girl blog post? Is London, ON the Canadian version of Upper East NYC?

    • I can’t believe I’d find such immature writing from an established institution such as Maclean’s. At first your argument seemed to have reason but as I read on I felt as if the only reason you wrote this is to satisfy yourself. The truth is, Nobody cares about “the typical Western girl” anywhere other than in Western Ontario. You’re various argument, such as the whole incoming grade average argument, are crazy. Comparing yourself to another school that only has an 85% incoming average. Only 85%?? Really? Not to mention the fact you demean a 85% average which last i checked, is pretty good, you also make yourself look like an ass. Then you go on and start calling people Jealous. So childish. If you say you don’t affiliate yourself with this absurd stereotype you should try to approach the argument in a way that doesn’t make you sound like a ten year old. If you call yourself more mature then these TWG’s you should stop acting like one.

      • Take it easy Billy it is just one person’s view of a stereotype associated with the school – it isn’t worth getting your panties in a bunch over. Providing some numbers doesn’t put another school down – unless that is the way they take it. I think the point of the 85% is that UofT is a pretty impressive school and Western holds up to that with their grades. By the way, there is no argument, just a view point. Wow. People can’t write a couple hundred word essay without taking this kind of abuse. By all means write a rebuttal and I’m sure macleans will post it because you are so prolific. sheeesshh Why are people so angry.

  7. Makes sense that a western girl wrote this, what a cliche ending. It just reimplies that the typical western girl can be compared to Regina George.. Seems rather bias but whatever.
    As a student at mcmaster, there is always revelry due to us both being good universities. However, western seems so come at you with a type of school spirit to the point that’s almost obnoxious and annoying, which is where I think the stereotype can arise.. Of course there are hard working girls at western, but we do not see this and only inforce this stereotype even more.
    And although they may not have the Lowessst financial aid, it doesn’t mean its a modest school… Going to western some of the girls DO seem preppy, pretty and cliquey but no one can really say it either way.
    Which basically just makes people more aware of the stereotype by writing this which makes this article pointless and maybe even counterproductive

    • Ending killed me.. ugh. This article aside..

      Western has an intense sense of school pride because we walk around all day on one of the most beautiful campuses anywhere, our teams do well, and we’re just really happy to be here! The community is so close knit, the profs are great, the parties are amaaaaaazing, and we just feel blessed to be in such a special place for our studies. Not to take away from any other schools, but there really is a sense of being somewhere incredible when you’re here. I’ve gone to more uni’s than western, it really is a unique thing but when you’re a part of it it’s amazing.

      There’s tons of preppy girls, but it’s like a 10% thing. Western has a legacy of money behind it and last time I checked rich girls like their brand names. A very small portion of that 10% are stuck up, the rest are cool but look intimidating because they’re dressed to the 9’s every day and have a ton of nice stuff.
      Yes there are a few TWG’s, and then there’s a lot of average girls who work hard to look good on campus too because the rich girls set the trends. If you talk to them you’ll find that it’s only a portion that fit the mould.

      But yeah this article was ludicrous. There’s nothing worse than when a Western grad reacts to the teasing by going “everyone is just jealous because we’re so great”. Shut the fuck up and revel in the good times at western and let everyone else make the most of their time at their respective schools.

      This article reinforced the stereotype sooooo hard haha smh.

  8. Typical UWO masturbatory navel-gazing.

  9. So very Ontario.

    When I saw the headline I thought you’d be talking about some women West of Ontario–Manitoba, maybe, or perhaps even as far as BC?? But Western Ontario??!! in a supposedly Canadian magazine!!??

    I’m reminded of the ma’n’pa store owner in central Toronto who told me he’d been “out West.” It turned out that he’d been to Sarnia.

    From a stubble-jumpin’ Western woman.

    • Uh… Yeah I’m not sure you got it right there Lila. “Western” refers to Western University, the formerly named University of Western Ontario. They were never trying to describe people from the western half of the country. Students at this school refer to it as “Western.” Just a name for the actual school. I don’t really think the people writing this article are as directionally challenged as you’re making them out to be.

    • Western University, which is in London, Ontario…

    • So very “Western Canada”… Bitter about Ontario.
      You do realize they’re called “Western” girls because of the University of Western Ontario’s name, right? And it has absolutely nothing to do with Western Canada whatsoever?
      Think before you write.

    • Lila, it’s called “Western Girl” because that’s the name of the university being referred to (The University of Western Ontario: Western or UWO for short).

    • Western University Females is the topic, not Western Canadian Females, duh

  10. Waterloo has it pretty good. Their employment rate after graduation, their virginity rate and their nerd percentages are all in the top 10th percentile!

  11. I’m a third year at UofT and many of my high school friends go to UWO. I must say that judging from various Facebook pictures, many of the Western girls do seem to have a very active, social lifestyle. However, I’d also like to add that this stereotype is literally just a stereotype. Coming from a very academically oriented high school, most of my friends — regardless of their gender or race — take their grades very seriously. It’s only a handful of those girls (and guys) who basically party 24/7 with their yoga pants, raybans, Coachella gears and whatnot; these kids were basically the “popular” (although I’d like to say the more socially visible) group even back in secondary school, marginally getting into the programs of their choices. I agree with many of the comments here. Although initially it seems like this article was written in defense of the majority of the population of UWO, in the end it only reinforces the stereotype with a very Gossip Girl-y diction. One might even argue that the article kind of comes off as a little… well, self-flattering and poseur-eque. Would be a well-written satire piece for a first-year creative writing class, though!

    Well-educated university students are not — and should not — be jealous of how other undergrads dress/party/whatever. The rest of us just find it amusing that some people would like to be labelled as a party animal when you could have the potential to be so much more in those best 4 or 5 years of your life. Juss sayin’.

  12. I would say that Western girls are overly into the biggest name brands (obsessively so) and I would say they are some of the most spoiled I’ve seen. So yea, the stereotype is pretty accurate for about 70% of the female population.

    Also the “bimbo” stereotype comes from the way most girls talk and act here, not their grades.

    And yes I go to western so I’m not speaking out of hate or jealousy of our purple pride. I would say however that the student services are top notch here as said in this article (very proud of this).

  13. This isn’t the only case of Western dealing with its own stereotypes. Case point that 3 Audrey show from a couple years back (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ3IwhDEFwA). It was really funny and had appearances from the typical Western girl and bro that we all know. Don’t think the university liked it very much though, I heard they tried to shut it down or something.

  14. I am a Western student and I was really enjoying this article until the final lines. The smartass tone was something typical of the TWG stereotype and totally undermined the argument.

  15. This is a terrible article. Bias by being published by a UWO Alumni and filled with misguided examples. As a southern Ontarian I can assure you can wear those Uggs more than 6 weeks a year. Also, I know Monica Blaylock, that girl wore Uggs and yoga pants, and while attending Western died her hair blonde several times. She also is not a class of 2011, let’s see that diploma !

    Also, football… why would a statistic such as “number of athletes on the Olympic team” or “Men’s and Women’s OUA titles” not be included. This article reflects the quality of an B.A. from UWO.

  16. Uh, this smacks of a weird excuse for school pride. The Western girl stereotype is plainly visible and can’t be encompassed by entrance grades or lack of OSAP. I took classes at three of Western’s campuses (not to mention another school for my MA), and the feeling that TnA, Canada Goose jackets, Uggs and salon hair are required on the main campus is not fabricated. It doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of respectable girls under there, or that lots of women didn’t fit that stereotype, but there are other ways to document the fashion show that is Western besides the sad attempts in this article.

    Jealousy doesn’t explain how people within Western identify TWG, but we all do…. and my current school, with an acceptance average of 78 for undergraduates, has a campus culture of hoodies and sweatpants, not fashionista bimbos. Nice try though.

  17. @Lila Western is the name of the university being discussed. There’s no geographical discrimination involved here.
    I think this stereotype is true to an extent, like most stereotypes.
    This articles definitely hits on the issue that if a school recognizes its own stereotype, be it as a party school filled with blonds, a jock school or an international school,it gives others a chance to adopt the same view of the school, no matter how unrepresentative is may be.

  18. (Disclosure: I mean everything in this response in the most positive light. The harshness is to illustrate how far fetched this article is– in my opinion, of course)

    If this was made to try to minimize this TWG stereotype, I am sorry, but NOW I believe in their stereotype. Not the TWG one, but the snobby and stuck-up stereotype.

    My best friend posted this article on Facebook (she attends UWO), and I thought it would be a good read. I rather enjoy visiting Western and have never had any real issues with the students, yet, this article is appalling and even drives me to believe that maybe Western is full of snobby students. My friend, she is such a kind person, and I would never associate her with the TWG, so I know there are kind and intelligent individuals enrolled at this school, but the fact that this was published is outrageous.

    To the Western students who think that everyone is jealous of you: I am sorry, but this bit of the article is a lie. coming from a school who is not overly “showy”, I can say that we do not consume our time with thinking about how to describe Western girls, or wishing that we were half the school they are. If anything, we chant “Wuck Festern” merely out of fun! That’s what we should be doing– thinking of creative ways to rally up another school.

    I have been at the University of Guelph for 3 years now, and from my perspective, the only schools that really give a shit about who goes to what school is Western and Queens. I am not trying to put these schools down, I am merely pointing out an observation. These schools tend to have wars over which school is better, and I have heard some pretty devastating stories about what each school does to members of the opposite school. It really does not need to come down to this, the point is that we are all intelligent enough to go beyond secondary school and pursue a meaningful education.

    Wherever you are, however you paid to get there, and what school is the BEST school, does not matter. Have a good time, every school is great in its own ways, and enjoy these short years at all of these wonderful schools. It is time to move on from the “mean girl” days, but to close these days, lets all just “bake cakes with rainbows” and enjoy where we are at in life.

    Study hard, party harder.

  19. do you Western girls even lift?

  20. No one really cares, all the universities here are internationally irrelevant anyway and entry grades mean nothing when they are so massively inflated.

  21. I was interested to read the article after I read the subtitle of “The truth is more complicated than the stereotype”. But once I got to the bottom, I found that to be untrue. All the article told me was that obviously, the stereotype is a real thing, and someone fitting that stereotype wrote the article.

    I have a couple friends who go to UWO, and I think they’re great people. But now I just feel embarrassed for them…

  22. I thought this article would be unbiased, but the end ruined that belief… The description does fit MANY girls I know form my high school who attended Western. “Rich, spoiled, party, white girls” is pretty accurate for a good number of them, even though there’s obviously many others who don’t fit that description.

  23. Kaleigh, this article is an absolute disaster.

    Who wins when you draw comparisons of vapid caricatures from a teen movie to your former student body? Proud Western grad indeed.

    If anything, this only succeeds in perpetuating an inane stereotype and reflecting poorly upon yourself, UWO and Macleans.

  24. Bottom line, Queen’s is the best university and Western is garbage

  25. Psychopaths don’t think they’re psychopaths, assholes don’t think they’re assholes, chain smokers and alcoholics don’t think they have a problem, and this typical western girl doesn’t think she’s a typical western girl.

  26. So essentially her argument is – People make fun of western girls for being vapid and feeling superior…because they’re jealous that we actually are superior. What a feeble (and absurdly self-unaware) attempt at defending the merits of female Western students.

    Take a walk through Weldon and you will see pretty girls with blonde hair and expensive clothes. However, very often, you will see those same girls spending hours in the library studying. Perhaps people’s tendency to associate blondness and womanhood with stupidity provides a topic more worthy of discussion.

  27. This is a truly terrible article. Its funny because I checked out the Article after someone I know posted it on Facebook. This Person is the epitome of the “TWG” so of course she liked it! I don’t think the stereotype is necessarily that they are dumb but as a person who spent 5 years there i can safely say there is a uniform at Western that about 50 % of the girls adhere to. Ugg boots, Lulu Lemon tights, drapey shirts, and big sunglasses. Many of the drive around in BMW’s and Mustangs that no one who pays for school with their own money could possibly afford.Its funny that at an institution devoted to broadening peoples horizons seems to breed a group of women with no individuality whatsoever.

  28. Hello all you educated people!! Congratulations to each one of you for continuing your education. You had to make a decision a while ago on which university to attend based, hopefully, on the best undergrad program applicable to your needs. You can’t be two places at once (even Hermione needed magic for that) so a decision on the one place is made and you move forward. I hope each of you is satisfied with that decision and are now involved in another aspect of your education or in the work force. Or both! One thing is certain – you are no longer in high school where this type of exchange seems to persist and undermine the individual, if they let it. Four years or more of a higher education should rid any of you of this feeling of over or lack of self confidence and you are an individual separate from the institution, the rumour, the petty differences. Take a deep breath and avoid giving life to these ridiculous cultures. Carry on, children, forging out the life given to you and make it a great one!!!

  29. Im gona guess the writer is form toronto, went to Northern, Lawrence Park or one of the all-girl private schools, has only held jobs that her parents/family helped her get or a job that allowed her to party every night. She defiantly wares all the clothes mentioned, her new job still allows her to drink 7 nights a week and every cent she makes is saved because her parents still pay for pretty much everything. She is like this because everyone around her enables her to be like this. Daddy’s little princess, moms best friend and will she live on her pedestal for the rest of her life or until the money runs. BTW this stereotype is real life for most western girls and anyone who knows a girl at western or has been there knows this to be fact

  30. 1. Winning the Vanier six times doesn’t mean you have top athletes. It means you have had a strong football program. A .500 winning percentage in Vanier cup games (for the record). Yes, I will concede that UWO has a good athletics department, but how do you measure that? Show me the OUA and CIS titles. Down the 401, Windsor just celebrated its third consecutive CIS women’s bball title, a department with half the amount of varsity and club teams.

    2. The 82% post graduation employment figure is obviously higher than an aggregated 77% for everyone else. I hope you have a better shot at getting a job after going to UWO than UOIT.

    3. At the end of the day, Western uses the antagonism that they receive to sustain their “school spirit”. To claim that this purple pony garbage is indicative of true school spirit in Ontario and Canada is a joke. Consider the following:

    – Guelph’s spirit is concentrated in one of the most renowned residence life system’s in the country.
    – A visit through Kingston will yield tons of kids wearing (terribly ugly) mustard yellow, particularly the engineers.
    – Visit a Carleton men’s basketball game. Nuff said.
    – Travel to Lennoxville, QC on a friday night. You’ll never see so much purple and black.

    And there are countless more examples out west and in the maritimes (e.g., UBC, Regina, Dal). Long story short, kudos for maintaining this Western vs. Canada discourse, but call a spade a spade. You are not drastically different than the other 401 universities, even if you think so.

    And for the record, there are rockets that wear Lulu, Uggs and have iPhones across many of the institutions I have named. There just happens to be a large concentration of them at UWO. It also just so happens that these TWGs happen to be elitist snobs and incredibly promiscuous. I guess someone’s got to keep up the Mean Girls facade…

  31. The worst part about Western Girls is that they are not even from London!! Its not the locals that are the problem, which splashes poorly on London as a city. These girls are sent by there parents to Western, all expenses paid, cars to drive, credit card for “emergencies” and anything else to make their ever so tough student life, less difficult.

    Also, the Western Girl is only 50% of the population, the other 50% are Asian

  32. Is there a typical Queen’s girl, then? Or UTSC? Or Waterloo? I am in the process of accepting one of my uni offers. This article made me re-think my initial bet on Western… but suddenly it sounds too vane.

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  34. I found this article very difficult to get through without getting extremely frustrated for a number of reasons.
    1. The “TWG” exists everywhere. Having attending both Queen’s and University of Waterloo, and with family at McMaster, McGill, University of Guelph, University of Toronto and Wilfred Laurier, I can confidently say that this stereotype of woman exists everywhere. Perhaps a reason they “stick out” more than others is because of social media. To me, it seems like the “TWG” would also frequently post on Instagram and Facebook, reinforcing their image to their followers. I am unsure why Western is the school that is most targeted with this sterotype, but they are certainly not the only university that experiences it.

    2. What is wrong with being a typical Western girl? From what this article states, the TWG seems to be stereotyped based solely on looks. They’re blonde, and wear specific clothes. This does not mean they are unintelligent, rude, and stuck up individuals. It’s quite possible that they are the hardworking and kindest people you’ve ever met. You would have to get to know them on a personal level to really understand who they are as a person, and ultimately that is what matters.

    3. I genuinely hope that this author does not think the stereotype exists as a result of jealousy. Every university has its strengths. There is a significant population of people who are better served by another university. Western is only the “best” university for certain individuals. Not everyone

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