Hi everyone! I am SO SO pleased to be here as part of Jessica Leader’s Honeymoon Guest Blog Special (which is what I’m calling this in my head. Though I think she’s calling it “On the Scene with NICE AND MEAN” which rhymes and is catchier). I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would post today, seeing as I’m part of a ridiculously cool line-up of bloggers and authors who are sharing fabbity fab stories of NICEness and MEANness. And, you know, I could post about all the nice things I’ve done and how I’m a totally nice person and how nice it is to know me, but:
The wisened semi-grown up writing this post.
1. How many of you would believe that a girl who runs a blog called The Hate-Mongering Tart is actually nice to a fault? I mean, seriously
2. Reading about how nice I am is, as Hassan from John Green‘s AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES would say, “not interesting.” (Um, I read this book last week and it’s hysterical. Just saying.)
So. I have decided to tell you about the time that Mean Girls — real Mean Girls — tried to take over my life. I mean, wow, who would have thought the Mean Girls would have been interested in me? I was a sort of punk rocker with pink and black hair and I wore lots of non-matching clothes and glittery make-up and they were pretty much obsessed with, like, making sure they had color-coordinated their outfits…to each other.
But somehow fate would have it that these two would be the girls with whom I’d spend most of my time at the beginning of my sophomore year in college. And though I had been bullied/ignored/uncool as a teen, I had had a pretty decent time with friends in college (and later had an even BETTER time, post-Mean-Girl-pocalypse, in case you were wondering). And these girls seemed to like me. Little did I know — as the geeks of the world so often don’t, in real life — that I was their PROJECT. You know, like in that movie, SHE’S ALL THAT? Where a girl takes off her glasses and gets a haircut and — BAM! — she’s a Hottie McHotpants and the star of the Prom? Yeah. They wanted that for me, without the makeover.
So, I thought, so that future Proud Geek Girls of the world are not lulled into a sense of security when attacked by a tribe of Mean Girls, I would make you a list of warning signs.
You've seen MEAN GIRLS. Have you ever felt like Kady? Or Janice?
WARNING SIGN NUMBER ONE: Your new friends always say things like “you could look so pretty if.”
It may SOUND like a compliment, especially to those of us who have grown up being told that or just feeling like we are ugly or fat or weird. Me? I felt like a total freak for most of my adolescence and sometimes still I look at myself in the mirror and go WTF, Emily, why do you have to look ridiculous? But you know what? A real friend doesn’t tell you “could be hot” or “could attract that guy/girl” or “could look good” if you lost ten pounds/changed your make-up/bought different clothes/stopped wearing glasses. A real friend may look different from you, but she doesn’t doubt for a second that you’re awesome. Okay, now you’re thinking, wouldn’t a good friend, like, tell me if I had spinach in my front teeth? Or tell me that a dress I like maybe doesn’t complement my figure? Yes. You’re right. But that’s different. A real friend wants to help you be the best you you can be, by working with who you already are. For her, it’s not about making you a different you altogether. Here’s a test: if it would annoy you coming out of your mom/grandmother/critical female relative’s mouth, it’s not something your BFF should say (or that you should say to your BFF).
This is me about 8 years ago. Being my goofy self. Arm belongs to a MEAN GIRL.
WARNING SIGN NUMBER TWO: Your new friends always have nasty things to say about your other friends and/or significant other.
Jealousy is ugly, for real. And one thing all Mean Girls have in common is some funky green-faced action. The truth is, and you may have heard this before but I’ll say it again, a lot of Mean Girls are secretly super insecure, like the rest of us. And they don’t want anyone, even their Nerdy Girl Projects, hanging out with other people. Unless its on their terms. Like that time they said “We’re going to have a super fun lunch and then get manicures but you can’t come today because we’re having special us time.” (Yeah, that’s a bonus sign. Good friends don’t tell you about good times and then tell you you’re not allowed.) So when they find out you want to go to a concert on Friday with this kid they think is uncool/weird/mean/stupid/ugly, and even when you say “You’re welcome to come but I didn’t know you were into (insert style of music here),” they have to rag on your friend/date/acquaintance and how he’s not good for your reputation. This? Major sign your friends are mean girls. Because a real friend wants to be a part of your life, meaning they want to know the other people in your life, even if they’re different. (MAJOR EXCEPTION: If your friends don’t want you hanging out with someone because they are ACTUALLY dangerous, i.e., say, a drug dealer? Or, like, history of violence? That means they’re looking out for you, not just being jerks.)
The original Mean Girls movie was HEATHERS. Ironically, one of my Mean Girls' favorite films.
WARNING SIGN NUMBER THREE: Your new friends dole out “punishments” for breaking “rules.”
Yes this actually happens. And yes, it’s happened to me. And yes, most of the time, I didn’t realize it was happening. You might not either, which is why I’m, like, filling you in and stuff. Example: You eat breakfast with your new friends every day for a few weeks and then suddenly they tell you “We don’t know if you should eat breakfast with us today. You talk a lot and breakfast is quiet time.” (This is verbatim from my REAL LIFE Mean Girl experience. Mean Girls, if you’re out there, I hope you feel SHAME. Um, I also hope you’re not stalking me.) You know what? If you talk a lot, (or, you know, have some other quirk), that’s part of what makes you YOU. And our friends aren’t going to like everything about us. They might even get annoyed at us sometimes (mine sure do!), but that doesn’t mean they get to punish you. If your friends make you feel bad about being yourself, that’s a pretty big neon sign that they’re not really your friend. Unfortunately, Mean Girls are pretty good at making you feel like it’s YOUR FAULT, hence the “rules” and “punishments” scenario.
Sure. Laugh at the Spice Girls. But they knew what it meant to have Girl Power. Girl Power means being there for each other, being true to yourself, and standing up for what's right!
WARNING SIGN NUMBER FOUR: Your new friends always want you to listen to them, but never have time to help you with your problems.
We all know her. The girl who ALWAYS has something to complain about whether it’s a broken nail or a bad break-up. And we listen to her problems because that’s what friends do. We’re there for each other when times are hard, even if it is just a ruined manicure. But what Mean Girls are good at is making you feel like any time you need to talk you’re interrupting/whining/being needy. They can make you feel like your problems are not important. You could be having a really bad day and a Mean Girl would tell you to leave her alone because she’s on the phone/channel surfing/watching paint dry and therfore doesn’t have time for your insignificant issues. A real friend doesn’t dismiss your problems! She might say, “Hey, can I call you back?” or “I’m having a bad day too and I’m just not in the mood to talk,” but she doesn’t ignore you completely. She DOES call you back or hang out another time and LISTEN. Especially if she’s been known to call you in the middle of the night to cry over unrequited love/gaining two pounds/a mom fight. Relationships are about give and take. If you realize that all you’re doing is giving, and all your friends are doing is taking, they might just be jerks. But if they are ALSO making you feel bad about needing someone to lean on, well, they might be Mean Girls, too.
On BUFFY, Cordelia Chase proves that Mean Girls CAN change their tunes!
Alright, readers. This concludes the E. Kristin Anderson Guide to Avoiding Mean Girls. I hope you found it both educational and entertaining. Edutaining if you will. No? Can you only use that word if you’re like, an old person trying to be hip? Well, crap. I’m caught. But feel free to leave me some comments on how YOU’ve dealt with Mean Girls (or guys). Or tell me if you’ve ever caught yourself being a Mean Girl. Because, you know what? I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all been on both sides of that fence! And, everybody deserves a second chance! Anyway, I would LOVE to hear your stories! Being a young adult is tough, and there’s no way anyone should ever tell you different! The trick is to keep your chin up, and keep as many positive people around you as possible!
In any case, there’s plenty more awesome to come while Ms. Jessica is on her Honeymoon. I’m looking forward to the rest of the posts!
And remember, even when it’s hard to tell who your friends are, stay true to yourself! You WILL find the people who love you for who you are, just like I did! And you can never have too many of THESE kinds of friends! Peace Out from Austin, Texas, Y’all! <3
Me getting a face-hug in '07 from one of my BFFs FOR LIFE, Katy. Photo by Tony M. Harris.