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Andie Anderson & the Toxic Cool Girl

'Cool girl. Men always use that, don't they? As their defining compliment: "She's a cool girl." Cool girl is hot. Cool girl is game. Cool girl is fun. A cool girl never gets angry at her man.'

— Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey has become an essential watch from the romantic comedy genre. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of its release, but despite being a modern classic, there are elements of the film that have not aged so well. One of these is Andie Anderson’s personification of the 'cool girl' trope.

Andie has a master's in journalism from Columbia University. A successful columnist, she writes for Composure Magazine, a fictional women’s magazine similar to the likes of Cosmo.

The film begins with Andie paying a visit to her best friend and roommate, Michelle Rubin. Michelle works as a health and fitness journalist for the publication. Andie finds Michelle in bed, sobbing over her recent break-up; we soon find out that her boyfriend of seven days dumped her because he thought she was ‘crazy’. (Although, we learn that Michelle confessed her love to him after two days…)

Instead of comforting her, Andie takes a different approach. She reassures Michelle that they only dated for a week, insisting that, ‘If the most beautiful woman in the world acted the way you did, any normal guy would still go running in the other direction.’

As the film progresses, we learn that Andie is a ‘how-to’ columnist. The editor of the magazine (Lana Jong) urges Michelle to write about her experience, and when she refuses, Andie willingly volunteers instead. The piece is called “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” which will involve Andie trying to make someone fall in love with her and dump her, all in ten days. Enter Matthew McConaughey’s Ben.

Embodying a persona inspired by her best friend, Andie plans to ‘limit [herself] to doing everything girls do wrong in a relationship.’ This includes, but is not limited to; calling Ben multiple times a day, leaving several voicemails; pretending to be vegetarian; redecorating his entire apartment; and buying him a dog. As part of this experiment, she also declares, ‘I'll be clingy, needy, and touchy-feely,’ a signifier of Andie’s status as the cool girl.

Cool girl is a term that’s floated around the past few years now, popularised by the novel and film Gone Girl. As Amy Dunne gloats about faking her death and pinning it on her husband, she relents about how he only loved her when she played the part of the ‘cool girl,’ transpiring into the now-iconic Cool Girl Monologue. The ‘cool girl’ is chilled, and is attractive but doesn’t express an interest in looking after her appearance; she’s slim without trying, and can get away with drinking beer and eating fast food. (Interestingly, in the Cool Girl Monologue, Amy mentions how this was an act, and how she secretly dieted when she wasn’t around her husband to keep her figure.)

But, this trope is something Andie effortlessly fits into. Whilst transparency about emotions should be a key factor in any healthy relationship, Andie implies that ‘emotional’ girls are inferior, and rightfully seen as ‘too much’ by their partners. Deeming these emotions as wrong is simply rooted in misogyny, as women have historically been diagnosed with hysteria (despite the symptoms being the same as those of healthy female sexuality).

Andie sees being in touch with your emotions as inherently wrong, a major cool girl trope. She loves basketball, burgers, and beer. She isn't emotional, possessing an ‘it's all cool’ attitude to life. Nothing bothers her; she is ‘one of the guys.’

Guys love the ‘cool girl,’ as evidenced when Ben catches a glimpse of ‘the real Andie’ at the beginning of the film. After he sees her personifying ‘the crazy girl,’ he asks, ‘Where is the sexy, cool, fun, beautiful Andie that I knew?’ When Andie drops the ‘crazy girl’ persona, he immediately falls in love with her.

Andie and Michelle are pitted against each other throughout the whole film, and it’s implied that Andie’s ‘cool girl’ attitude is superior to Michelle’s. But, Michelle is a successful journalist with an imperfect but healthy love life and is in touch with her emotions, whilst Andie is dealing with deeply internalised misogyny. If you had said to me four years ago that I reminded you of Michelle Rubin, I would have been offended. If you said that to me today, I would thank you.

Words by Aadya Paswan

Edited by Lucy Eaton


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