Monday, May 7, 2012
We hear so much these days about the Mean Girl Epidemic spreading throughout our middle and high schools. I even hear stories of it occurring in elementary schools. It’s bad, for sure, and takes an awful lot of diligence on the part of adults to keep it at bay. We encourage our girls to do the right thing and to live by a strong moral code. What happens, though, when the Mean Girls turn out to be adult women? We don’t hear too much about it, but I can assure you that it’s alive and well within our society.
Growing up, yours truly was the target of some Mean Girl (and Mean Boy, for that matter) behavior. Socially awkward and painfully shy, I was an easy target, I suppose. It took years for me to come to terms with that cruelty, but come to terms I did, and it’s made me the woman I am today. I’m not sharing this with you to conjure up any sympathy, but to prove a point: we can all overcome it. I’ve built my life’s work around it, in fact: I don’t want any little girl to endure what I endured. I want every little girl to know she’s special, she’s competent, and that she matters. I want to provide her with tools for ignoring the Mean Girls, tools she may very well need when encountering any Mean Women in her future.
Because I’d already ‘been there, done that’ with regard to the Mean Girls, I confess I took very little notice of it occurring amongst alleged-grown-ups. I guess at one point I was downright naïve to its very existence. I’m aware of it now, and have come to following conclusions:
Mean Women Operate Out of Fear –Disrespect and ugliness towards others stems from a fear of not being accepted ourselves. We channel this fear into the very thing we don’t want: to be forgotten, or to be seen as ‘less-than’. We fear it happening to us, so we’ll beat it to the punch by inflicting it on someone else. How sad…
Mean Women Operate Out of Self-Loathing – I challenge anyone to find a Mean Girl or Mean Woman who truly likes herself. Without self-love, there is no love. It all starts from within. Plain and simple.
Mean Women Operate Out of Immaturity – Perhaps they weren’t indulged or encouraged enough as children. Perhaps they were overly-indulged or overly-encouraged as children. Who knows? But something happened along the way to keep these women from growing up and contributing positively to society.
Mean Women Operate Out of Jealousy – Strong women, beautiful women, happy women, and successful women are often targeted by Mean Women. Instead of celebrating these women, they go to great lengths to tear them down. They exclude. They gossip. They lie. These are the things that get a Mean Girl into trouble at school. Unfortunately, you can’t send a Mean Woman to the principal’s office.
I could go on, but I’d like to move along to another topic, one that I’ve written about many times: living by example. We cannot expect our daughters, nieces, or students to be nice girls if we’re not living nicely ourselves. The old cliché of the apple not falling far from the tree is true, I believe. We must take a good, hard look at ourselves and our motives, for they greatly affect our children. If we want our future generation to live in a society of love, kindness, compassion and respect, we must put those concepts into practice – always.
I personally know a few Mean Women – women who are mothers, teachers, and leaders in my community. I implore anyone remotely responsible for the well-being and guidance of children, particularly girls, to think and live on a higher level. Get over what you need to get over and start playing nicely. Come from a place of compassion and integrity – this will serve you well.
And for anyone who’s ever suffered at the hands of a Mean Girl or Mean Woman, take heart: set your sights on fabulosity and you’ll do just fine. It’s easy to ignore their comments when you know you’re doing the right thing. Surround yourself with decent, positive people who have the greater good in mind. Strive for excellence in all that you do. Find inspiration wherever you can get it. They say that living well is the best revenge. Based on my own experiences, I know this to be true.
Image Consultant, Mentor, Author
Beth’s books, Become a First Style Fashionista and 365 Days of Fabulosity, are available through Amazon.