Mean Girls
February 28, 2007

In elementary school they were the mean girls, Nina Monroe and Lisa Berger. A tag team, arriving to our class in the same year. Revered because they were new and because of the triangle. The upside down triangle on the back pocket of their jeans. Guess Jeans. They had them and matching outfits from Limited Too and Burdines. But they were mean. Prank callers, hair pullers, and note passers. The notes were the worst, written in spite to instigate trouble and hatred between girls. Always. And it usually worked because we believed what they were saying. They were those girls. With that kind of power. But boy did they have fun. You know it because of the giggles, but also because you joined them from time to time. There was a rush, with the planning and the anticipation of how it would all turn out. Of course the smugness when their plan sprung into action on an unsuspecting victim. Pure seven year old bliss. Like riding your bike so fast that you can feel the wind in your hair with your mother's warnings echoed in your ears. Extreme fun, the kind with consequences. The best kind.

I met one again this summer. She was a summer associate and the only thing I could think about her was that she was mean, in the way that Nina and Lisa were mean. But she was 25. And in law school. This is not the law firm, cut throat mean I am talking about either. This was elementary school hair pulling and finger pointing antics. She just had that it about her. The one that says she never outgrew it. She truly was still a mean girl. In the way that I know she intimidates her friends. Gets her way through bully tactics. And it is allowed, until the girls grow tired and move on. She finding her next "friend". I have to think she is the word frenemy. We quickly grew tired of it all and she will not be joining us.

Do Nina and Lisa still do it? Have they toned it down? Or are they now mean women? I hear they live in New York City, where such behavior is groomed, displayed and cultivated to a lifestyle. I am certain they are still well styled individuals. But it has been 20 years, I have to give them the benefit that they have outgrown the note passing stages of 1989. But really, more so, am I still a mean girl? To people I dislike or I feel have hurt me. I gossip. I know I do and talk ill of others who I find humorous or even feel threatened by. This is different. At least I tell myself it is. This is not done to their face and even more importantly it is not used to harm or dismantle them. It is done for myself, usually to make me feel better. It goes no further. The mean girl outwardly projects onto it's victims. That is what makes it mean.

I know the rest of us have outgrown that, if it ever existed. We are mature adults. But does some of that still resonate? I just wonder how much we outgrow and how much we chose to retain. The lessons we learned as fourth graders, on how to intimidate and manipulate. Using our power to make others feel poor and ourselves feel rich, at least for that momentary high. Do we incorporate those techniques into our everyday, in ways to get a job, a date, a car, or a home. They are power moves after all. Used to place you above the others. But there is a difference between mean and savvy. Between nasty and smarts. That is not what mean girls are made of. I have learned these differences and appreciate the nuances. I try my best to live a decent, kind life. With no intention to harm or even manipulate. Knowing those scars run deep and how poorly it is received by the rest of society. It is just plain ugly and there is nothing more that I hate than ugly. But there are flashes and moments when I can feel the mean. When I am doing to my friends what I learned on a playground in the sunshine of Miami and sometimes it feels pretty good. Especially when I am just retaliating. It feels excellent. Like wind in my not yet died blonde hair. It feels like freedom. Of course there are consequences. But damn, mean can be fun. The best kind of fun.

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

Remember those bodysuits from the Limited Too? I loved mine. Looking back they were gawd-awful though.

Girl bullying has lasting effects on those who do it and those who are victimized by it, we really have to teach girls to relate and interact better. But I do understand when you say sometimes it just feels so good momentarily to be the mean girl.

6:16 AM 

Blogger Pam said:

I can still visualize those mean girls from childhood and wonder what have become of them as well. Sometimes I can just think of some of the bully acts that these girls pulled off and rage boils up in me as if I were still 8 or 9 years old. Strange. I have to admit though, on the flip side, that I probably did my share of bullying as well.

6:42 AM 

Blogger brookem said:

I knew some mean girls back in the day too, and in college. I think my meanness is apparent when I find myself secretly hoping that they trip and fall and someone will laugh at them. Or that they walk around with tp on their shoe for a good amount of time without noticing. Stupid, little things, and nothing of any major harm or anything too awful. But I think back to girls that were mean to me or to other people and I think they deserve a little karma kick in the ass.

7:51 AM 

Blogger e.b. said:

But didn't always seem like they got away with it? Like they were just that special and cool, that they were untouchable. I am a strong believer in Karma, so their due will come one day, if not already.

8:04 AM 

Blogger Accidentally Me said:

I think I saw Nina last week wearing a white sweatshirt with "Benneton" written in multi-colors across the front. It was hot...

8:31 AM 

Blogger Cute Jewess said:

Ugh, this is one thing that plagues me. The meanest girl from high school wound up with the nicest, handsomest husband, who's also well-off, and they just had a baby.

I no longer believe in karma.

8:33 AM 

Blogger e.b. said:

AM - Nice call on the Benneton.

CJ - Those are things I don't want to hear. I like not knowing. But karma can still kick their asses.

8:45 AM 

Blogger Paige Jennifer said:

I feel old. Limited Too existed when you were growing up?

I think mean people will always be mean one way or another. It's buried too deep to let go. But mean people often scowl. And scowling causes unsightly wrinkles. Karma's a bitch, especially to the bitches.

Fun post!

9:34 AM 

Blogger Ally said:

My last and really only awareness of "mean girls" per se was in law school. They were the ones in our bunko group that tried to exclude others or gave guests a cold shoulder (why was SHE invited?). The ones who wore heels with their Seven jeans and their North Face fleeces and "forgot" to eat for a day or two at a time (but never forgot to smoke). But instead of it seeming mean, it was just sad and sort of annoying. Three years later I see them at events, and not much has changed.

10:55 AM 

Blogger e.b. said:

I love that everyone has a story or experience. It is so universal.

12:09 PM 

Blogger JustRun said:

I know in many a slumber party there was always sort of a singled out person- usually the person who didn't side with the mean girl. Though I'm sure I had my mean moments once in a while, I like to think I can make up for it now by trying to be nice. I suppose that would also involve avoiding gossip, which is not my strength.

1:12 PM 

Blogger brandy said:

Last month I ran into MY mean girl. Not just A mean girl, the one that was mean to me. After 3 minutes of conversation it was clear she hadn't changed. Instead of notes though in bubble writing, it was the passive aggressive comments said directly to me that were her arsenal. She's married now. I wish her husband the best, he will need all the prayers he can get.

9:39 AM 

Anonymous Jurgen Nation said:

Oh my GOD what a fantastic post. Love this. Love, love, love. I often wonder about the mean girls I knew, too. I was just cool enough to fly under their radar - they didn't say good or bad things, they just ignored. And, seeing what they were capable of, that was fine with me. I would love it if you posted this to Indie Bloggers, but if you don't want to, no pressure. (But I'm hoping!)

I know this is so cliche, but I love your blog. I'm subscribing via Google Reader, so I hope you don't mind my popping in from time to time! :) Also, hi from Indie Bloggers!! -stacy

11:35 AM 

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