If you take a look around, you’ll see them everywhere. It starts out in school… Elementary school. You have the girls that have all the latest things, and they make fun of the ones who got their clothes at a yard sale or thrift shop. In high school, they travel in packs with their makeup, cell phones, belly-baring shirts and too-tight jeans. They’re at work… You know who they are. On Facebook, look for the ones with the overdone makeup and hair and all the status messages talking about someone else. You’re either one of them, or you’re being talked about by one of them. P.S. On Facebook, they travel in packs too… And just like high school, all the mean girls have the dumb guys there to cheer them on.
I was the kid in elementary school with the hand-me-down, yard sale, and thrift shop clothes… It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford better, it was the simple fact that at the time, I had figured out my Moma would buy me more stuff if she saved money on clothes… And clothes weren’t cool to me anyway. So I went to school in my used clothes and never thought anything of it. Makes sense now that the only friend I had was a girl named Lisa whose parents simply couldn’t afford to take her out and buy those super expensive designer clothes that we would have outgrown in a matter of months anyhow… And of course, it didn’t help that I was super smart and in the gifted program and skipped a grade or two in school.
By the time I made it to high school, I knew I was pretty… I had modeling agencies and pageant representatives telling me so. But in school, it was a totally different story. There were four girls (I said they travel in packs, right?) that made my life a living hell. They carried their backpacks (that rarely had books in them) with their purse full of makeup, and pointed and stared at girls like me and talked in hushed whispers. Now, here’s the thing about high school… If you don’t fit in with this pack, you either give everything you’ve got to do so, and sell out your best friends in the process, or you try to do your best to survive without them and band together with the other “freaks” they’re making fun of. My sister sold her soul to fit in with them… I had my own merry band of freaks.
Now, the interesting thing about having a sister that was in that crowd is you would think they would lay off me. You would think she would take up for me. You would be wrong. I took an automotive class because I grew up in a shop and decided it would be an easy A. They called me a dike. I was 13. I had no clue what that was. I became friends with a few of the guys in the class… Suddenly the rumor was that I was giving them blowjobs in cars. Again, I was 13 and had no clue what that was. My mom signed me up for my first pageant, and that’s where the real hell began… “She should know she won’t win, hasn’t she seen her face?” I didn’t know what they were talking about, until I started staring in the mirror one day, and one of my “guy friends” who was also one of “their” boyfriends informed me that I had the biggest nose he had ever seen, and “had I ever looked at my eyebrows?” I made a waxing appointment the next week. Then, my arms were too hairy. Then this, and that, and the other. High school soon became a living hell.
I got to the point that I would get so nervous and upset about school that I would throw up non-stop in the mornings waiting on the bus (I still carry a toothbrush with me because of this). I would get sick in an effort to avoid a class that most of the “mean girls” were in. It got to the point that the school nurse accused me of being pregnant… I was 14 by now, had never had sex, and still really didn’t understand what it was. Through all of it though, I never told anyone what was going on. I had convinced myself that they were right… I was useless, I was ugly, and I didn’t deserve to breathe the air they breathed.
By now my mom had remarried and we had moved out of county, but we still drove to that school, every damn day. Then, the weirdest thing happened (please note, this is sarcasm)… My sister got pregnant. She dropped out of school, moved in with her boyfriend and his family, and got married. But somehow when word reached the school, I was a slut, I was a whore, I was pregnant with some girl’s boyfriend’s baby… I still was 14 and had never had sex. But suddenly, the friends of the mean girls were sneaking to talk to me and ask me for tips. They wanted to know how to sneak around… Did it hurt??? How many guys had I been with??? Now, I had always been a bullshit artist, I learned it from my daddy… I just had to lie my ass off without laughing in their faces. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I wish I could say that this turned my world around, but it didn’t. They were still mean, horrible girls, but it brought me a little amusement while I plotted my way out of that school. And thankfully, my mom did pull me out and put me in a school where I wasn’t subjected to that kind of talk and bullying. P.S. This doesn’t tell my entire story of that school, I had friends, great ones that I still talk to… It just tells what I went through with the mean girls.
Fast forward more than 10 years in the future… Please tell me why I had a supervisor tell me that she shaves her arms because no one wants to look at that nasty stuff on a woman’s arms? Please tell me why women are ashamed to go to the office without makeup? Why have I nearly ruined my eyes because I don’t want to wear my glasses in public? And mostly, please tell me why ladies are ridiculing other ladies for posting pictures of themselves on Facebook? I should never see adults saying “Oh my God, did you see her eyebrows?” online. And “Hunny, she should know better than to use those filters, we know what her skin looks like in real life!” or “Doesn’t she know she’s too fat to dress like that?” Aren’t we supposed to be mature adults who are above all of this now?
Why is it that we can’t just say an encouraging word instead of trying to tear each other apart? Why can’t we teach our little girls to build each other up? Why can’t we lead by example as adults and show our teenagers that this is unacceptable? When will we realize that words can hurt and cut deeper than any knife ever could? When will realize that a single sentence can either end or save a life?
I am thankful that for every person who did everything that they could to tear me down as a teenager I had someone else there telling me that I was beautiful. That I was smart. That I was great. That I was funny. That I was amazing. If I hadn’t had those people telling me those things, I would hate to think of what would have happened. A person can only take a beat-down for so long before their self-esteem starts to fall apart.
I would like to challenge every one of you to show your “mean girl” what a real friend is. Let them know that destroying a person is not the way to go, but building someone up can help everyone… After all, those “mean girls” I went to high school with… They didn’t turn out to be much. Most of them didn’t graduate high school, none of them graduated college, almost all of them have been arrested at some point, and if they have a job, they make minimum wage or barely more. Why not show the mean girls how to be a friend, and build each other up. Show them that they can be more than just a bunch of mean girls?