This month marks 10 years since Mean Girls was released, and it’s since become a modern classic. Obviously the comedic writing genius that is Tina Fey has a lot to do with this, but for me, what I loved about the movie was how relatable it was. North Shore High School felt real; it was just your regular Midwestern high school, with cliques and calculus classes that people actually went to. As someone who was in fact a Mathlete, I appreciated a movie that acknowledged our existence, even if it meant social suicide.
The one thing about the movie I didn’t relate to was the Plastics. As someone whose high school cafeteria table would have been labeled “Girl Nerds,” I socialized with a group of girls too focused on GPAs and college applications to waste our time saying nasty things about each other or paying any attention to what the popular girls were doing. Gossip and catty takedowns were foreign to me at that age. I wish I could say the same about this one.
Yes, even though this movie about high school came out last decade when we were still in high school, so many of us are still acting like we’re there. The amount of gossip and petty behavior that has occurred in my adult life is shameful, and I’ve absolutely been a part of it. Despite having been blessed with a group of talented, successful, interesting girlfriends, too often our conversations degenerate into “Did you hear what she did?” or “Can you believe she said that about her?” I’m actually shocked that I haven’t participated in a three way calling attack. These conversations might pass the Bechdel test, but that doesn’t make them good. How did we become these Mean Women? And how do we stop?
Adulthood lacks the safeguards of high school. There’s no Principal Duvall to drag all of us into the auditorium and ask us to start acting like young ladies instead of children. Yet I’m pretty sure if there were someone to ask us, most of us would raise our hands that we’d said something about someone else behind their backs. It wasn’t a good thing in high school, so why are we acting like it’s okay now? We’re grown women with so many options for things to do; is gossip really the most interesting choice?
Like I said, I’m not pretending I’m above all this. I’ve been a part of the problem, but I’d like to not be anymore, and I hope you’ll join me. Whether we’re 17, 27, or 77, aren’t we all too old to waste any of our time saying mean things about each other? Is there really any situation that justifies saying something cruel about someone behind her back? If you don’t like someone, don’t hang out with them. If you have a problem with someone, tell them why they’ve upset you and talk it out. If someone’s dating the guy you have a crush on, find someone else to like. Sure, old habits die hard, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth breaking. We’re too old for petty power games and belittling others to make ourselves feel big. Let’s maybe start acting like grown women instead of mean little girls.
Featured image via