Have you always wanted to be a gamine, hippie, or "pink punk girl"? No problem: wikiHow's crowdsourced how-to guides have you covered, especially if you're an insecure teenage girl. You'll never feel alone or ugly ever again, nope.
If Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers had a confused, wayward, know-it-all child, it would be wikiHow, the self-appointed "world's collaborative how to manual." (He'd be a popular guy, too: wikiHow, ranked by Quantcast as the 150th most popular website, claims to have over 35 million visitors a month.)
Unlike Wikipedia (and very much like Yahoo! Answers), wikiHow doesn't have the most diligent (or intelligent) moderators, which means some advice is much sounder than others. Some of wikiHow's featured articles do seem helpful, like "How to make deep fried cheesecake," "How to demonstrate Charles' Law," and "How to cool yourself without air conditioning." But hidden from the front page are hundreds of how-to guides written for and often by teenage girls, telling them exactly how to be the type of perfect girl — scenester, beach babe, whoever — that they've always wanted to be.
It makes sense: kids these days can Google whatever they need for a book report or science project, so why wouldn't they want to crowdsource the answer to, oh, "How to be scene without being a poser" (tips include professional haircuts, "random" cartooned tshirts, "keep yourself clean," "if you are for real nude colored lip gloss is the best"), "How to be a popular girl in a private school" ("befriend one of the nicer populars and dress fashionably. That'll be your ticket in to the popular group!" and "Tie a hairtie to the back of your shirt to tighten it.") or even "How to be a beautiful goth girl" (Did you know that there are Gothic bellydancers??)
Search "How to be a boy" on wikiHow and some guides for dudes will come up; "How to be a bad boy" is one example. But the sparse results are interspersed with tons and tons of teenage-girl-friendly PSAs, guides like "How to kiss a boy," "25 tips on how to act like a tomboy," and "How to be a boy's best friend." Search "How to be a girl," however, and you'll really hit the jackpot. Here's a quick guide of just some of the types of girls you can transform yourself into with the help of wikiHow:
Be a Mysterious Girl "Make friends with heaps of people, but have days where you only talk to some. This doesn't mean you have to snub them or be a jerk, but try to talk to one group on one day, and another group the next. Make sure to change the days around or people will begin to realize what you're doing."
Look like an Asian doll "If you want your skin to become paler and more porcelain, try using skin whitening cream. You can find them in most Asian beauty stores."
Be a Punk Girl "Seeing a Performance live is 10x better than just listening to it on youtube."
Be a Pink Punk Girl "Make sure your girl boxers stick out of the top of your trousers. Black boxers with a pink waistband are good. make sure that they are easily seen."
Be a Crunkcore Girl "Arab-style scarves are also a must have. BrokenCYDE amongst many other bands have been seen sporting the look, as well as gold chain necklaces, with huge dollar signs and other items hanging from them."
Be a Ghetto Scene Girl "Do not try to be ghetto if you weren't already. If you were brought up that way, then this article is for you. But if you try to be ghetto and you're not, someone might beat you up."
Dress like a Scene Queen and Keep the Everyday Look "Most Scene Queens are models or do some modeling. Have professional photos taken and upload them to your site. Recommended you don't use any mobile photos, but you can if you like." and "Be random and bubbly. You can get piercings but you don't have to."
Dress Like an Indie Hipster "Headbands no longer go across your crown, it's all about the forehead."
Be a Hipster Girl "Remember, if you are going to be a hipster, you have to be bold, brave, and set the trends for the rest of society. YOU are the trend-setter."
Be a Rebellious Girl "Being rebellious is mostly what's inside, but the clothes you wear and appearances matter too."
Dress Like an Artist "Most of the time you have to look like you don't care about what you're wearing, like you just threw something on"
Dress Like a Hippie "Wear a vest. Any variety (long, short, colorful, loose, tight, floral, beaded, etc.) should work. Alternatively, wear a combat-style vest."
Be a Tough Girl "Before you leave the house, ask yourself: 'If someone invited me to play football, would I have to turn them down because of the way I'm dressed?' If the answer is yes, consider something else."
Dress in a Gamine Style "A Kate Spade Bicycle, perfect for exercising in a gamine way"
Be a Wholesome American Girl "It is important to wear as little makeup as possible while still maintaining a feminine look. The best way to do this is the no makeup makeup look."
Be a Classy Girl "Never crack your knuckles. Other people may find the habit annoying or manly."
Be a Preppy Girl "a nice monogrammed canvas tote from L.L. Bean is owned by every prep, get it with your initials."
Be a Conservative Girl "Conservative girls never hold up signs and protest anything unless it reflects their value, such as the Tea Party movement."
Be a Christian Country Girl "Try to sing along to any country song you know."
Be a California Girl "Consider living in California, at least for a while. Many of the people in California were not born there, so you will fit right in but most of them are and you can tell by how they act."
Be a Tropical Girl "Have a big shell collection, or buy a pet fish and show him off with pride."
Be a Sporty Girl "Choose at least 3 sports that fit your interests. Keep in mind sports like skating,dance, or cheerleading, people tend to see as "girly" so you can pick to do one of them, but do some rougher sports along with them to show you're not a priss who can't get down and dirty."
Be a Snowboarder Girl "Have a jacket on when you're not snowboarding. Keep things like goggles, a helmet, and ski gloves in your backpack. Don't go around wearing goggles and ski gloves all the time, because you'll appear as if you're posing as a snowboarder girl. A ski hat in cold weather is okay"
Be a Surfer Girl "Wear jewellery such as bracelets made of hemp, rope, string and seashells, and necklaces made of the same materials or rock pendants."
Dress Like a Cocktail Waitress "Observe waitresses at cocktail parties and possibly strike up a conversation with one."
Be a Party Girl "Shoes are required apparel for the party girl in all public places except the swimming pool, beach and spa."'
Be a City Girl "Be the cute and kind girl from the city. Say "baby", "honey", "sugar pie", "sexy" and the like to your friends, and have a cute nickname like "pumpkin" for your boyfriend."
These guides are less enjoyable to make fun of, partially because they're generic but also because they're depressing. You can be a Gorgeous Teen Girl ("Totes & messenger bags are cuter than backpacks, but use what you feel comfortable with.") or just be a Girly Girl "Cute panties. (No one will see them, of course. But they will make you feel cute, nonetheless.)" Almost every one of these guides is fixated on hygiene, which seems odd until you consider that it's way easier to fix your cuticles or floss twice a day than it is to like yourself for who you are.
Then, there's a headache-inducing amount of guides dedicated to being likeable, like "How to Be a Girl Everyone Likes" (it's fifteen steps, with pictures), and "How to Be That Wonderful Pretty Perfect Girl Everyone Likes." These are the saddest guides of all. Of course, that's really what every single girl perusing wikiHow guides is searching for: the secret to feeling loved and special. According to wikiHow, even the hipsters and surfers just want to fit in at the end of the day.
"This popular girl looks pretty, nice and admirable," reads one tagline under the stock photo that goes along with "How to Be Popular." If only it were that simple.
Image by Jim Cooke, source images via Essl//Shutterstock.