Everyone knows her. She’s the one you’re intimidated by, the one you’re hesitant to speak with, the one you really don’t want to tell bad news to, the one that doesn’t really take things well unless they go her way.
A mean girl.
Mean girls are littered across our society and pop culture like acne across a teenager’s face. They are angry, red-faced, and ready to blow. Gross comparison, but, hey it works! I digress.
Tina Fey’s 2004 masterpiece Mean Girls brought the issue to light labeling said girls as “Plastics” and put former it-girl Lindsay Lohan in the trope of the innocently lost new girl who needed guidance and friends. The movie did a great job in MANY areas, but also fell short in a few. There was bullying, yes, but the aftermath was much more comical and far less detrimental. In real life, Lindsay Lohan’s character, Cady, would have been devastated by Regina’s horrendous behavior and would probably have suffered from some form of PTSD. Regina George was painted perfectly however, as a girl who has it all: wealth, popularity, power, attention. We know these are all a facade as Cady exposes her for what she really was: weak, insecure, manipulative. Do all mean girls present as Regina George though? Does one have to be a power player in order to be labeled as a proverbial ‘plastic’? In my experience, no, not at all. I have been on the receiving end of mean girls plenty of times both plastic and real alike, and I can only hope that I haven’t been one myself.
At the core of every mean girl’s heart lies narcissism and manipulation; a burning desire to be the best and to be needed and wanted by every other person on the planet, their feelings be damned. Why is this an issue? Well, it’s incredibly selfish for one and doesn’t allow for real, authentic relationships to take root in their hearts. Secondly, it hurts those around them causing pain which puts strain on health and relationships that could potentially be healthy otherwise.
Mean girls can be friends, lovers, mothers, grandmothers, co-workers, mentors, lawmakers, etc. and nobody is immune to it. The reason I’m so fed up with it is that it takes our progress as women back so far. Why fight the typical stereotypical “catty” woman trope when we have women running for political office who do things like comment on another opponent’s hair. Really? You want someone to listen to your ideals and platform while you’re busting on her mane? How is that progress? We’ve also are dealing with moms who are going above and beyond to raise generations of new mean girls. Why not raise your daughters to be kind and caring and make new friends, to be the stronger person to step up and be bold? I realize the last article is a few years old, but it isn’t any less relevant today than it was then.
How do we make progress? How do we stop this rampant egotism but still build our girls into strong, capable women ready to face the world? We start with ourselves. We don’t perpetuate the problem. I’ll start with me. I won’t comment on that girl’s outfit or hair or clothing choice. It doesn’t matter. It’s her choice, not mine. Usually, I’m jealous because I can’t rock whatever outfit it is anyway. I definitely will not do it in front of my students, my 10 year old female cousin (or 11 year old male cousin for that matter) or anyone impressionable. If someone offends me, I’ll let them know…diplomatically…IF it matters. If I don’t know em’ forget it. If they’re a friend, I’ll tell them. Progress is made through these things.
Ladies, we have to give each other a break and we have to make progress. It doesn’t matter our political, religious, moral agenda, we have to be better to each other as human beings. This is important. Let’s be kind and come up with a different phrase rather than “Mean Girls”. Let your kindness shine.