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The girl next door is an archetype of a cute, kind, unassuming, and honest woman or girl, often in a romantic story. In narratives, she tends to represent the better choice over a flashier, more provocative or crueler woman. She has no concern for social status. Only a genuine fellow, prepared to let down his own social defenses and pretenses, has a chance at catching her interest. She is often healthy, blonde, and in her late teens.
In literature, the girl next door has an air of paradox. She is open and accessible, but also charming to the point of intimidating. She makes her suitors feel anxious, but her simplicity leaves them unable to explain her dramatic effect. For a male protagonist, the girl next door is often impetus for his confrontation with the power of romantic emotion.
The girl next door represents a distinct stereotype, as opposed to other female stereotypes such as the tomboy, the valley girl, the femme fatale, girly girl, or the slut. The male equivalent is the "boy next door". Both gender examples of the "Next Door" archetype are quintessentially addressed with Thornton Wilder's Our Town in the characters of Emily Webb and George Gibbs or in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer series within the characters of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. During World War II, American propaganda often invoked her as the symbol of all things American. Songs on force request programs were not of Rosie the Riveter but of the girls who were waiting for soldiers. Many such songs were also popular at the home front. Themes of love, loneliness and separation were given more poignancy by the war.
See also 
- ^ Meghan K. Winchell, Good Girls, Good Food, Good Fun p 73 ISBN 978-0-8078-3237-0
- ^ John Costello, Virtue Under Fire p 125 ISBN 0-316-73968-5
- ^ William L. O'Neill, A Democracy At War: America's Fight At Home and Abroad in World War II, p 262 ISBN 0-02-923678-9
- ^ Robert Heide and John Gilman, Home Front America: Popular Culture of the World War II Era p 116 ISBN 0-8188-0927
Further reading 
- Deborah Jermyn, "Death of the Girl Next Door": Celebrity, Femininity, and Tragedy in the Murder of Jill Dando, Feminist Media Studies, Vol. 1 No. 3 (Nov. 2001)
- Michael Levine, Feeling For Buffy — The Girl Next Door in Michael Levine and Steven Schneider, Buffy and Philosophy, Open Court Press 2003
- Frank Rich, Journal: The Girl Next Door, New York Times, Feb. 20, 1994
- Michael Walker, SHE SPITS ON THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 6, 1994
- Elizabeth Wurtzel, Women: Read my lips: Are you a girl next door or a second wife?, The Guardian, Dec. 22, 1998