Lowercase girls tend to fly under the radar by design, but once you start looking you’ll see them everywhere. For one thing, they’ve been all over the streaming charts in the past few years: folklore, evermore, “thank u, next,” girl in red, mxmtoon, dodie, beabadoobee, how i’m feeling now, “drivers license,” “deja vu,” “good 4 u” — to name just a few recent, femme-forward musical phenomena that wouldn’t even think of imposing the tyranny of capital letters on the listener’s imagination.
But lowercase girls have been there forever, in the back rows of classrooms and the corners of parties, daydreaming, doodling, stockpiling vivid details and observations in the marble notebooks of their minds — waiting for the precise moment to launch them like a carefully crafted dart that punctures everybody else’s apathy and proves just how sharply she has been paying attention. Some of the best of them never grow out of it. “My only advantage as a reporter,” Joan Didion wrote in 1968, unwittingly describing her own species perfectly, “is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does.” Beware the lowercase girl. Although she is usually overlooked, underestimated and even ignored, she sometimes turns out to be the one who’s been writing the story all along.