We’ve all seen the movie: jealous high school girls set on ruining the lives of others, just to make them feel a little better about theirs. While Mean Girls is pretty realistic to the level of pettiness some girls (and guys!) reach in high school, it failed to mention one important, and depressing, fact of life: it doesn’t end there. Yup, I hate to burst your bubble, but the truth is you will always be dealing with people who will judge you and want to make you feel miserable.
It sucks. But there are always going to be women who feel the only way to build themselves up is by knocking other women down. The methods they prefer are subtle, but make no doubt about it: it is bullying. And it is bullying in a very vicious way. It includes gossip, making fun of, spreading rumors, and exclusion. We all know girls like this. The ones that will “friend” you on social media just to stalk you. The ones that talk over you, whisper about you, and give you a fake smile or a blank stare. The ones that will even quote bible verses on social media about the importance of loving each other. And sure enough, where there is one mean girl, you will probably find another. Mean girls typically bully in pairs.
Now picture this: 17 year old me, carrying my books, and innocently walking across my campus in a dress and heels. Now, if you’ve ever been to Alabama’s campus (or any southern school’s campus for that matter), you know the unofficial dress code: Nike shorts, Chacos, and an XL t-shirt. So walking around in something other than this basically guarantees death stares, eye rolls, and whispers from other students. I was a victim of it all. Being young and naive at the time, I immediately assumed that there was something wrong with me and what I was wearing. Not long after this I went and bought loads of oversized t-shirts and running shorts (I wasn’t caving to Chacos – I had standards). When I started wearing these outfits, the unofficial “uniform”, nobody stared at me. Nobody gave me weird looks. Nobody whispered about me. I simply became just another cog in the machine.
But a year later, I realized something.
There was nothing wrong with me and there was nothing wrong with the way I preferred to dress. It was just plain jealousy, pettiness, and intolerance for individuality. These were insecure girls trying to tear down other girls for doing something they had deemed to be against the norm. I even recently overheard a few girls talking down another girl for wearing stilettos and an outfit they deemed “unsuitable” to a baseball game. I sat there listening to these girls tear down someone for something as trivial as an outfit. Because, you know, we all have to “wear pink on Wednesday.” I wanted to scream, “There is a person, a living breathing human just like you in those stilettos. WHO CARES WHAT SHE HAS ON!?” Maybe she came from work, maybe she was on a date, maybe she had never been to a baseball game before.
If you’re a girl, chances are you’ve experienced this type of bullying. We’ve all experienced it, and we’ve all tried to make sense of it. I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to deal with people like this. So allow me to reveal to you the reason why I believe people, like these girls, feel the need to tear down others any time they get the chance.
They are insecure and unhappy with their own lives, so in order to combat this and make themselves feel big and important, they try and take down the people they perceive to be a threat.
They have an incessant need to feel powerful: they are jealous, and they crave attention. It seems that any time these kinds of people feel threatened, they bring out their weapons: disgusting and demonizing words. They try and build this false sense of security by surrounding themselves with people exactly like them, whom they can gossip with. It is petty, it is mean, and they are just hurting themselves. And while they may get a temporary high from putting people down, ultimately their insecurities will tear them apart.
So instead of being mean and judgemental, let’s all get to know each other. Find out each others’ stories. The reason I like to dress up? In middle school I was subject to a strict dress code (girls had to tuck in their shirts…yeah, I’m serious). However, my friends and I found a way around it: we started wearing dresses. It was the year I discovered Free People, and to this day anytime I put on a dress I feel powerful and confident, and a little bit like a rebel. Add a pair of heels, and I’m unstoppable.
Whether you prefer heels or Chacos, dresses or Nike shorts, let’s celebrate our differences, be kind to one another, and lift each other up. The world would be a very boring place if we all “Wore Pink on Wednesdays”.