Mean girls: What happens when they grow up, and other ruminations
"She's fabulous, but she's evil." - "Mean Girls," 2004
Plenty of attention has been given over the years to the mean, this mysterious creature that terrifies and intrigues young women everywhere. So embedded is she in our cultural zeitgeist that some of her more famous incarnations are almost lovable. There's Heather Chandler, the evil, doomed ringleader in "Heathers." There was the conniving Christian character Hilary Faye in "Saved." And, most recently, there was Regina George, ruler of the cafeteria in "Mean Girls."
But all too often, the examination of the mean girl is left in high school. What happens post-graduation? What happens when mean girls grow up?
Laura Sessions Stepp writes about the important but less movie-friendly phase of the mean girl's life: how she acts once she matures. Stepp presents the argument that maturity, the economy and changing college and workplace environments lead to less competition. Women start becoming more inclusive. In other words, her reporting shows that a young woman who would've once identified as "Alpha" starts to identify more with the "Gamma" way of life: Her sense of self becomes guided by her own internal beliefs, not by social hierarchies. (View photos related to the story.)
That's nice and all, but I wanted people I actually knew to serve as judge and jury.
I threw out the question on Facebook and Twitter before writing this post: "What are the 'mean girls' from your childhood up to today?"
The answers (the ones I could publish, anyway):
"Hating on me."
"Pregnant. Married. Stay-at-home moms. Not that there's anything wrong with that...."
The answers were more bitter than I expected, but my theory is this: We all learned to cope with a mean girl -- and if we were the mean girl, let's just say there was always someone out there who was worse. If we're lucky, we come out of it okay. And these days, when those questionable friend requests pop up on Facebook, we oblige. Because the one unspoken truth about all of us, whether we're mean or nice, is that our curiosity about one another is always stronger than any grudge we hold.
What happens when mean girls grow up?
Tweet Have you made peace with a mean girl? Were you one in a former life?
Laura Sessions Stepp will be online to take questions and comments today at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Tell us your story or send her a question by using #meangirls on Twitter or by posting in the comments below.
@washingtonpost Mean is not a food group it is a personality. Without intervention, of course mean girls grow up to be mean women .
@washingtonpost agree on the mean girls into adulthood. Unless some sort of soul searchng lesson is discvrd, id b amazd if there was chnge.
| February 18, 2011; 10:32 AM ET
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