The Pending Extinction of the Mean Girl
The Bachelor might still be trying to make 'Mean Girls' happen, but Gen Z has other plans, because 110% of us are done with Mean Girls.
Trigger Warning: This article deals with bullying which some may find distressing.
"You could always try Sears." Source: CinemaBlend.
The Mean Girl: “Someone who is maliciously trying to be mean and hurtful, controlling the dynamics and excluding other people.” This can include verb put-downs of others, bullying, backstabbing, and using others to get ahead. Girls who are friendly one minute, and mean the next, and may be referred to as frenemies. Triggered? I don’t even think we need the ‘Doctor’ experts to weigh in on this, because according to a recent study I just made up, 100% of us are also experts in the ‘Mean Girl’ experience.
So this week we asked you in the Facebook group, ‘What’s your mean girl story?’
As soon as I posted it, I immediately regretted the decision. I was filled with anxiety, waiting for someone to troll saying I was their mean girl and now they’re on the BRW rich list, and look at you ya loser, hosting a podcast from your bedroom with three listeners. Thankfully, that did not happen.
Yes, this whole article will be filled with 'Mean Girls’ GIFS. Source: GIPHY
But yes, I have been a mean girl. I think my brother would tell any one who’d listen that I was born a bitch, but I definitely don’t think sibling fights count in the Mean Girl games. I’ve been mean but I think I’m more Gretchen Weiners than Regina George, because I too got a really nice pair of gold hoops for Hannukah one year. But also like Gretchen, I’ve witnessed mean things being done and done nothing about it, and I've been on the receiving end of the Mean Girl too.
"Yes, that's us!" Source: GIPHY
My first memory of a mean girl was in grade four. I remember being in the playground with my gang and this sixth grader came up to us and pointed at us one by one saying, "Bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, oh, you’re okay." I got to be the one that was ‘okay’ because we played softball together and you do not mess with a softball player, even if they are nine years old.
If she had come up to each of us individually, it would have been a different story. There would be a lot of crying and most certainly some dobbing involved for sure, but she targeted a pack. And packs of nine year old girls are fearless. We were shocked at first, but then laughed about it, a lot. Obviously we weren’t going to get retribution on her, she was two years older than us, and a softballer, so we picked on her brother who was in our year (but don’t worry he gave it back just as good.)
After that we were like, ‘Yeah, that’s a good name,’ and we called ourselves ‘The Bitches.’ We were literally nine year olds. Every group of girlfriends at that age is looking to name their group. Some end up with names like ‘The Baby Sitters Club’ or ‘The Best Friends Club,’ but this empowering name just fell into our lap so what were we supposed to do?
Like fan Jess, we too made a recess habit of assessing the length of everyone's ankle socks. If they were too high, or fake Nike's from the Caribbean Market, you were on the outs. Primary School is more fashion critical than the Emmys.
"You can't sit with us." Source: Bantu Batu
Of course as a child of the 00s, we also had a ‘Burn Book.’ Who didn’t? Okay, apparently it wasn't that common, I did not know.
Everyone had one, right? Source: GIPHY
Fan Emily had a burn book, like an exact replica, with pictures of all the girls in their year. The only major difference being that she and her friends wrote down nice things about all the girls. That is the anti-mean girl. Because it’s so easy to copy something, but to use your noggin to turn it into something nice? That’s like going to war and making friends across the trenches. She said she and her friends just liked the ‘arts and crafts’ of it. And bless, I wish I was more like Emily.
My friends and I had a burn book each. We were EXTRA. I actually found mine recently when my mum insisted she was not a Storage King and I removed my belongings from her house. She was so glad she paid for my schooling when I pulled out that bad boy. I’m honestly not sure how I got any work done, because I had two full books! It wasn’t all full of mean stuff. It was mainly note writing in class. Our first crushes, our first times, who’s party we were going to on Friday night. We called each other sluts and whores...A LOT. I tell you this, because I really want to convey that I didn’t have a full book of mean words about my classmates! But, there definitely were a few mean things in there. I was mainly mean on the grounds of fashion, obviously with 'ankle sock police' on my resume I thought I was qualified. However, looking back at photos of my own fashion choices - i.e. 'excessive bronzer and sun in', I really had as much authority to criticise fashion choices as a galah has teaching a physics class.
Unqualified. Source: GIPHY
My girlfriend likes to remind me that on a year eight casual day, I told her off for wearing a Roxy top and Roxy bottoms. Cringe. But the girls we wrote really mean things about were mainly girls we were insecure or jealous of. Really, that’s all ‘Mean Girling’ is (yes I’ve turned it into a verb) - it’s taking your insecurities out on someone else. Well actually, the technical term is ‘relational aggression.’ That’s definitely what we were doing in primary school. We were insecure about our older bully, but couldn’t take it out on her, so we took it out on her brother. Unless you’re a psychopath, then it’s probably taking your childhood trauma out on someone else. But we’re not here to talk about serial killers… today.
I also wonder how we got away with so much. I mean we were smart, we used notebooks, so they looked like workbooks, but if just one teacher had noticed that those books weren’t full of Pythagoras' Theorem, maybe we would have had a Miss. Norberry-style intervention…but honestly I doubt anything would change. Back in the noughties, we would have said ‘that was gay’ and carried on.
Is anyone noticing? Source: GIPHY
I have been mean, but equally as punishable, according to Mean Girls, is witnessing bad things and doing nothing about them. I’ve watched girls get roasted, but not like in a funny way that could be on Comedy Central, in a way where they have their whole family, beliefs, and appearances torn to shreds. I’ve been on the three way calling attack as has fan Britney. I’ve watched girls get used for their sweet trampolines and snack drawers, but then get bullied relentlessly again the next day. Thankfully, I did not go to a private girls school or a country school, so I never witnessed a so-called 'scrag fight'.
NAWWWT. Source: GIPHY
I’ve also been on the receiving end of 'Mean Girling.' I’ve had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, covered in cold sweats, begging my mum to stay home, falling apart like a cheap suit before school because I knew my ‘friends’ were going to make my life hell. They were going to walk, faster and faster and faster then eventually just run away from me, for no reason, except I guess I was being super annoying. My best friend at the time even gave me back her half of our Yin &Yang best friends necklace - and it wasn’t for cultural appropriation. Anytime I hear a story about ‘Mean Girling’ I feel that all over again.
Mean Girls are never original. Personal attacks, bullying, bitching, name calling, ghosting. They're all very effective techniques. But because their techniques are so well used, we're all able to relate to someone else's story. It's sad to say, but we have all been there.
So awks. Source: GIPHY
Fan Daniah tells a very specific story. Back in 2009, it was a wet weather day. During recess, she and her friends were discussing the upcoming Friday night house party, who would get the alcohol and who was on the guest list. One of the girls then said ‘DO NOT INVITE KATY.’ And you know what happened...Katy was in the room. Obviously it was followed up with the rushed and very unbelievable ‘Just kidding!' I read that and my stomach sunk to the floor. We have all been there. But Daniah also added that we should not feel sorry for Katy, because she was, and still is, the actual mean girl.
Brutal. Source: GIPHY
One thing that fan Anthony said that could not ring more true is that ‘high school girls are ruthless.’ I’ve mentioned Mean Girls the movie a few times already, but it’s not only a great movie for its quotable one liners, it’s such an accurate social commentary. It truly is a jungle and it’s survival of the fittest. Like, would you rather be nice and get picked on, or would you rather be at the top of the food chain but have to be a raging bitch to survive? I think I’m going to homeschool my child. Oh wait, no I’m not, they also feature at the start of the Mean Girls documentary and don’t fair so well either. Well shit.
But honestly - if you need to put someone in line, don’t worry about water torture or a stretching rack - send them to high school.
When you’re Mean Girled, you think about it a lot. In fact, it’s all you can think about, so fans I was so happy to see that so many of you were able to share your stories.
American fan Simeon had just started at a new school in the ninth grade and a another boy invited him over to sit with him and his mates, only to pour his whole milk carton over Simeon. He never sat in the cafeteria again. A few questions here - ninth grade is what age, like 15? Who at 15 is still drinking milk for lunch? Like maybe a Big M, but straight up milk? Is he going home after school to get breastfed too?
Are teenagers still drinking milk? Source: GIPHY
He was obviously getting bullied himself and took it out on the new guy. But what's great is this story has retribution. A few years later when he was in college, Simeon was a diner with his frat boys. As they were leaving, they saw the mean boy's red BMW, the same one he drove in high school - so the bros took action. Revenge achieved.
Fan Lynne also had to wait a few years to get her revenge, but it came. She had to deal with a bus Mean Girl, who, in classic Mean Girl style, waited until her friends got off so Lynne was alone and vulnerable, then proceeded to make Lynne’s life hell for two years. Years later, Lynne was looking for a new house and found one she loved. The owner had already bought a new place so was desperate to sell quickly. And guess who the owner was? Chatting to Lynne as if they were old friends. Lynne was like, ‘Oh no, love your house, still hate you, no thanks baiii.’ Well probably not in those words, but she did not buy the house.
Hard pass on helping out the Mean Girl. Source: GIPHY
Fan Polina’s story - love this, but I’m torn. On the one hand, I’m like ‘Go you!’ On the other...mmm did you deserve it? Maybe you were like the nerdy Liz Lemon in her 30 Rock school reunion and you were the real Mean Girl? For context, in year 11 Polina was in class when she muttered something under her breath about her classmates, saying they never pay attention in class and that they’re just wasting everyone’s time. Polina, you nerd. And one of the girls heard her, so they threatened to bash her after school. Classic private girls school. But one day, nerd Polina snapped and was like, ‘At least I tell you what I think to your face, unlike your friends who say it behind your back.’ After that, 'Mean Girling' ceased.
Mean girl, nerd, or both? Source: GIPHY
Next up is my favourite revenge of all because it’s strategic. It was long game retribution and it required patience. In grade six, fan Lena and her friend managed to scan a library book under the name of this legit bully. The book was ‘The Female Reproductive System.’ Oo0h, how embarrassing! At the end of the year, the librarian came to class and read out all the names of the overdue library books and the offending borrowers in front of everyone. Scandalous. He had to walk off to the library hanging his head in shame, whilst Lena's was held high with the feeling of sweet success.
Worth the long game. Source: GIPHY
But I think if you don’t get retribution yourself, karma usually does. Fan Britney’s was part of a real life mean girls, with the three way calls, the boyfriend stealing and because she’s from a country town, many a bashing threat. But one of her mean girls dropped out and the other is a manager at McDonald's. In terms of karma, where do you think Regina George is today? I think I could confidently say she’s not a brain surgeon or human rights attorney. She’s the girl who slides into your DMs acting like you're old friends after not speaking to you for 10 years with 'the business opportunity of a lifetime'. All you have to do is attend her essential oils party.
It's a no on the oils, George. Source: GIPHY
In my personal experience, I’ve found that Mean Girls peak in high school and they fizzle out in the workplace. Sure, workplaces are filled with drama and more politics than Canberra, but I’ve found spotting a Mean Girl in the workplace is rare. And when I say workplaces, I’m talking about workplaces where the majority of positions require higher education, not KFC where the Mean Girls work after they drop out. I guess I also have that view because I’ve come from the world of advertising, where 90% of employees are females under 30, yet I’ve never had one mean girl experience. Conversely, I just made lots of friends. Which I know is my downfall, I make friends as easily as Leonardo DiCaprio makes girlfriends.
But it seems I’ve been luckier that Steven Bradbury, because apparently they definitely do exist in the workplace, like this story from Jess. Dr Gordon, an expert in relationships and parenting, also says there are mean girls in the workplace, they’re just not the same Mean Girls from high school. They’re the girls that were bullied in high school and now see an opening to get revenge, albeit it on people that probably do not deserve it. It's a carry on affect. They’re still insecure from their high school bullies, or any other life experience, and they project their insecurities through bullying others in the workplace. Mean Girls 2 might have actually been a good movie if the girls that The Plastics bullied carried on the mean legacy in the workplace. Like, it just follows the girl with a heavy flow and wide set vagina who now works in steel sales and she’s a real micromanaging bully who takes credit for her subordinates work. (Note to self: sell this script idea to MGM Studios.)
I think one small solace about mean girls in the workplace is that unlike high school, in the workplace they are most certainly not the cool girls. They might be in a more senior position than you now, but they can’t fake it forever. We’re older and wiser, and while we still may feel helpless, nobody wants to work with them, nobody wants to be mentored by them, nobody wants to be them. Nobody likes them.
No Mean Girls here. Source: CinemaBlend
We’ve been talking about our generation, the millennial generation. But signs of mean girl extinction are ambitious, but I’m hopeful. Gen Z’s are way more sensitive than us and it seems for them, mean girls don’t even belong in high school. They don’t belong anywhere. They don’t even let the mean girl plant their seeds, let alone bloom. And look, as people who permanently have sore backs, we are not quite Gen Z. Our direct line to that generation is obviously the teen dramas which we unashamedly watch a lot of. And we know you fans do too. If you look at the most popular recent shows featuring teens, there’s no mean girls. Outer Banks, there’s the popular girl, but she’s no mean girl. Teenage Bounty Hunters, there’s the uppity, religious girl, but no mean girl. The Kissing Booth, there’s cool girls, who wear stilettos to school, but they’re not mean girls. Never Have I Ever, nope. And I actually don’t think there has been for a while. Katherine from Cruel Intentions, Nancy from The Craft, Lana from Princess Diaries and obvi Regina George, they really dry up in the late noughties. It’s happening, the mean girl is melting away like the Wicked Witch when Dorothy throws water on her.
But if we’re done with Mean Girls, (which we are!) why do tv franchises like The Bachelor keep trying to make ‘The Mean Girl’ happen? It’s not going to happen. Ironically, when you look at it this way, it feels like The Bachelor is Regina’s mum in Mean Girls trying to be cool, but so uncool. Actually, you look like such a loser.
But The Bachelor is a reality show, and reality shows need drama. Totally, they do, but I obvi watch a lot of reality TV too and no other franchises pushes so hard for the mean girl, because drama and Mean Girling are not the same. It’s super grey, but there is a difference. ‘Mean Girliing’ is personally attacking and bullying, whereas I think drama stems from disagreements. For example, on Selling Sunset, the girls disagree over who said what, whether agents turned up on time, who’s telling the truth, but they don’t personally attack each other for their fake blonde hair or not being born and bred rich. Real Housewives, same deal. They fight allll the time, but over whether Denise had a threesome with Brandi and cheated on her husband. The Kardashians, you could never say that one of them is a ‘mean girl.’ They have disagreements over beliefs. And it’s a much more even playing field.
Drama, but no Mean Girls. Source: GIPHY
Where as on The Bachelor, the girls personally attack each other. Sure, have a fight over Locky spending time with one of his 'other girlfriends', because the girls never realise he has 25 other girlfriends, classic.
One of the five 'Mean Girls' this season. Source: Channel 10
It never gets old, but when Roxi calls Kaitlyn ‘Gold Coast trash’ or Bella allegedly body shaming Irina, or when they coax the girls to talk like every other girl is beneath them, it’s off. Like no, you can’t edit a mean girl. They're already saying those things, maybe it's amplifed for the cameras, but you can definitely just...not cast them. No wonder the ratings are so down this season - we’re done with Mean Girls. It’s more tone deaf than MAFS celebrities starting a Go Fund Me Page to move to the Gold Coast in the middle of a pandemic.
No pressure, Gen Z, but please proceed with the extinction of this unwanted pest.
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