What women can learn from “Mean Girls”

The movie “Mean Girls,” on the surface, may seem like a basic, girly coming-of-age comedy. But for those willing to dive deeper, there is a world of genius satire and empowering feminist lessons straight from the brilliant mind of Tina Fey. With Women’s History Month right behind us, it’s a great time to talk about those lessons. 

March has been annually celebrated as Women’s History Month since 1987. It originally started in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8 as Women’s History Week. Though these holidays were meant to honor the contribution of women to U.S. history, March is also now when International Women’s Day recognizes and celebrates the contributions of women all over the world.  

However, in a time when women should be celebrating each other, they are still tearing each other down. It became most apparent to me when I was scrolling through Twitter during the Conservative Political Action Conference in late February. 

Women and men alike were criticizing Kimberly Guilfoyle (who wasn’t even in attendance that year – so the people on social media were tearing her down for fun) for her looks and the way she was dressed – mocking her straight hair, her “overly tall” high heels, the amount of makeup she was wearing, and her figure. Twitter users were comparing Guilfoyle to the Desperate Housewives in an insulting manner, and also questioning who would find “that” attractive.

As a woman, I was completely appalled. I’m not conservative myself – there’s very little, if anything at all, I agree on politically with those ladies at CPAC. 

But, why do looks have to be brought into it at all? If I have a problem with a policy or belief those ladies hold, I can attack that directly. The way she dresses, what color or texture her hair is, how high her heels are or how much makeup she wears has nothing to do with it.  

When we insult a woman based on her appearance, it simply reaffirms the sexist and backwards belief that a woman’s worth is tied to her appearance. As women, we get enough of it from men, that us ladies need to stick together on this front. 

Repeat after me: A woman's value is not based on how many people find her attractive. 

If you have a disagreement with someone and the only criticism you can think of is based on their appearance, it’s probably a sign you need to do more research into the topic being discussed. 

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In today’s world, you can’t win. If you dress modestly, you get called a “prude.” If you’re shy, you get called “stuck up.” If you like fashion and beauty, you get called “vain” or “dumb.” If you’re assertive, you get called “bitchy.” If you wear short shorts, dresses or skirts, or crop tops, you get called “slutty.” 

The problem really lies in the fact that people just like telling women what they should be doing or not doing. Are we going to continue to play that game? 

There’s no use in playing a game you can’t win. So let your inner bad bitch shine. Wear those fishnets or crop tops! Take out that dress that makes you feel like a million bucks and disregard the haters.  

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If any of you ever feel insecure, know you’re not alone. Research shows over 80% of women over 18 feel insecure about what they see in the mirror. It’s okay to feel insecure. It happens to the best of us! 

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However, the problems start when women begin to take out their insecurities on other women, especially on social media. I get it: it can be hard to see these gorgeous ladies on Instagram and other platforms, who may have certain features we feel we lack. When jealousy rears its ugly head, it’s easy to do or say something you will later regret. 

First, we need to stop comparing ourselves to other women. aAnother woman’s beauty does not diminish your own! Every single one of us possess our own unique beauty and gifts, and like Theodore Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

So the next time you feel the need to make a negative comment about another woman on social media, look inwards instead and identify the insecurity making you feel that way. Then love yourself there and celebrate what’s great about you. 

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In one of the best scenes  in “Mean Girls,” all of the junior-class girls are gathered in the auditorium to address their  rapidly-deteriorating relationships after the burn book was made public, when more fighting breaks out. 

"You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores, it just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores," said Fey, in her iconic role of Ms. Norbury drops this genius one-liner that so beautifully sums up one of the biggest problems women face today. 

If we want to make the world a better place for women, we need to start by being better allies to each other. When women raise each other up and empower each other, it helps to elevate all of us. The world already has enough challenges for women. We don’t need to make one of them each other! 

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Of course, we couldn’t talk about lessons  we can take from “Mean Girls” without talking about this gem:

“Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George's life definitely didn't make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you,” said Lindsey Lohan as Cady Heron in the film’s pinnacle scene, as Heron her penultimate opponent Caroline Kraft during sudden death at the Mathletes final. 

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Does anyone else feel the need to applaud every time they watch this scene? Or is that just me? Regardless, this is a lesson we should all take close to heart. 

At the end of the day, if you insult someone else because you feel insecure, that’s not filling the void inside. It may feel temporarily gratifying, but that insecurity still lives inside, eating away at you slowly. 

Remember to be and let be! Focus on what factors you can control about yourself and let the rest be. 

Women’s History Month may be over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate each other the rest of the year! Please remember to embrace the badass bitch inside, go be the amazing woman you are, and most importantly, remember to support the other amazing ladies in your life. Put a cute selfie online and take a few seconds to compliment someone else! Remind other women how amazing they are. Spread love and positivity, and it will come back to you tenfold!

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This year the line is: “you can sit with us!”

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