‘Mean Girls’ Myth: Why Can’t Some Women Let It Go?

Mean girls. It may seem a bit off topic, but it think- I know first hand that bullying and “mean” girl behavior can do major damage to a young person’s self image. I can recall being in 8th grade and there was a older girl who was quite popular (mainly because people were afraid of her) we were in the locker room and she kept calling me ugly and pointing out all of the ugly things about me. Of course the others (happy that they weren’t her target) sniggered and laughed. I was truly hurt, mainly because all of the things that she was saying out loud were thing I already felt inside. Later she put her arm around me and said she was just joking, and I feigned acceptance of her apology but I never got over it. In fact to this day whenever I feel “ugly” I get an emotional flash back to that locker room day.

Today with the advent of Reality TV the concept of Mean Girls has been elevated, promoted, and rewarded. Paris Hilton was the first in this generation of Mean Girls 4.0. She became famous not only for her sex tape but for vile behavior towards other women, throwing drinks in faces, starting feuds through the press and encouraging others to do so. Who can forget how she tortured Lindsey Lohan back in the day? She was a part of her whole “Firecrocth” branding. No she did not say it but it can be argued that she instigated it.

Whether it’s the embarrassingly entertaining Bad Girls Club on Oxygen or The Housewives of any City on Bravo, the entertainment and intrigue on theses shows always comes from catty mean girl behavior, cutting comments, talking behind someone’s, back or being a plain ol’ beayotch to someone’s face. Women tear ourselves down from the inside out then we strike out and tear down other woman. We have to change this behavior, first by not being, or raising mean girls, and by not glorifying bad behavior, towards ourselves and others, maybe then we’ll feel better about ourselves. So ladies the next time you want to hurl a snide remark, a pause and flip it, toss a compliment instead, or like the saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say…

by Laura Stepp Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist


Sometimes I despair over women’s opinions about women. How can females move upward if they’re always tearing each other down?

But despite the research studies and first-person stories I included, many of the female readers taking part in last Friday’s web chat didn’t buy my thesis. They wrote about being bullied by female work colleagues. They talked about going into therapy, taking anti-depressants, and developing eating disorders as a result. One said mean women treat men as badly as other women. Another described a bully sister-in-law of 30 years “who qualifies, corrects, challenges, denigrates and dismisses whatever comes out of my mouth.”

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