Mean Girls – Fact or Fiction?

As I have gotten older, I have struggled to understand what is happening between women.  My instinct has always been to surround myself with other badassladybosses.  To support these women.  To learn from these women.

Yet, high school, college, law school, and now the “real world,” have harshly introduced me to the real life “Mean Girls.”

They exist.  They are pervasive.  And sometimes, they suck the will to continue with badassladyboss-ing right out of you!  So how do we cope?  How do we combat?  How do we overcome the Mean Girl epidemic?

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

— Maya Angelou

Have you seen the movie “Mean Girls?”  This 2004 teen comedy, follows the high school perils of teenager Cady Heron (Lindsey Lohan).  The movie opens with Cady, recent transplant in the United States from Africa, being introduced to the A-list high school clique, the “Plastics.”  This group of high school stars are the envy of all the high school girls (and some boys), particularly for their popular fashion, bodies, hair, makeup, etc., etc., etc.  Cady is eventually adopted into this group, and finds herself struggling with her own authenticity as she adheres to this gang’s “mean girl” ways.  When she falls for the ex-boyfriend of the queen bee, the Plastics turn on Cady, and she experiences first hand the wrath of the Mean Girls.

Growing up as an only child, I did not have the pleasure of a brother or sister to highlight gender-isms.  My mother, however, was the most strong, outspoken, independent, feminist I have ever known.  As such, my early childhood was filled with other strong, outspoken, independent, feminist women.  These ladies supported each other.  They mentored each other.  And most importantly, they understood the amazing perks of being a woman, honoring our gender enough to foster the growth of other badassladybosses.  After all, who knows the challenges of being female better than other females?

As I have gotten older, I have struggled to understand what is happening between women.  My instinct has always been to surround myself with other badassladybosses.  To support these women.  To learn from these women.  From high school clubs with my gals pals, to joining a sorority in college, to embracing badassladyboss mentors in law school, I have always leaned towards seeing this amazing gender of ours as a bond, and looked to prop other women up.  

Yet, high school, college, law school, and now the “real world,” have harshly introduced me to the real life “Plastics.”  In June of 2016, fellow-BLB, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote an OpEd for the New York Times on “The Myth of the Caddy Woman.” Similarly, other women have touted that this mean girl epidemic is just a myth: a rhetoric we need to abandon.  

I’m not going to delve into where these characteristics begin, or how we combat childhood bullying among young girls, but I can tell you there is NO myth about Mean Girls.  They exist.  They are pervasive.  And sometimes, they suck the will to continue with badassladyboss-ing right out of you!  So how do we cope?  How do we combat?  How do we overcome the Mean Girl epidemic?

The Only Person Who Can Control How You Feel is YOU

Why are we so freaking hard on each other? As my mother, the great badassladyboss women warrior once told me, you only have control over your actions, no one else’s;  no one can make you feel inferior without your permission.  Stop letting the mean girls get to you.  In fact, stop letting the mean men get to you too!  Take a deep breath.  Know that you are surrounded by badassladybosses who want to see you thrive, and YOU have control over how someone else makes you feel.

Kill them with Kindness

Take the high road.  Build those Mean Girls up! Perhaps the reason those mean girls, are well, mean, is because they haven’t received enough kindness in their life.  They haven’t had the advantage of being surrounded by badassladybosses. They think the only way for their success is for other women to be below them – the Queen Bee syndrome.  There is PLENTY to go around my friends.  I know this can be challenging, but use your power for good! Be kind.  

Embrace EVERY Opportunity 

In recent months, I have heard, “Now is a great time to be a woman – investors are looking to invest in women!,” or “Wow, that must have happened for you because you’re a woman,” or “They’re looking to diversify with some women run companies, you should contact them.”  Maybe it is ALWAYS a great time to be a woman.  Maybe things are happening for me because I work really freaking hard.  Maybe I don’t want to be in contact with someone just because of my gender.   Let the haters believe what they want to about why opportunities are being presented to you.  Know your worth, and embrace every opportunity!

Communicate About and Encourage Successes, ALL OF THEM

Talk to other women about your success and encourage their successes.  I am so lucky to have an incredible group of close girlfriends.  When something exciting happens in our personal or professional lives, we share it with each other.  We smile when good things happen for other women.  We are driven and motivated by the success of each other, without feeling competitive.  Learn how to do this. Practice this.  No success is too small to celebrate, and when you are in the habit of celebrating, you will attract success (big and small).  

Stop the Negative Talk RIGHT NOW

Whether engaging in gossip, or telling yourself you’re not good enough, STOP IT.  STOP IT RIGHT NOW.  Negative talk, particularly about your badassladyboss self, or other women getting their badassladyboss on, is a driving force in our mean girl culture persisting.  It stops with you.

Homework:  Even if it physically hurts, be kind to EVERY woman (and man for that matter), that you see today.  If they offend, compliment.  If they scowl, smile.  If they put you down, lift them up! Imagine what our world would look like if everyone used their powers for good.

Whitney Dover is a co-founder of BadassLadyBosses.

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