POST: 'Mean Girls' - Even the people you hate are still people
What it's about
Mean Girls is a Broadway musical written by Tina Fey and based on the 2004 super-quotable film of the same name.
*And yes, nearly all of the quotes from the film that you know and love made it into the stage version.*
Mean Girls was a movie I always enjoyed and related to, and so I was cautiously excited when I heard it was being adapted into a Broadway musical, because I really didn't want them to mess it up.
But, as I watched the musical drama (and there was a LOT of drama) unfold on stage from my seat, I kept flashing back to my own unpleasant experiences with real life mean girls.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be accepted by people. My parents and my brother, the way I saw it, were basically required by law to love me for simply existing. I wanted to be seen by everybody else, and that meant (mainly) my classmates, coworkers, and friends. As early as Pre-School, I remember making up stories about how my dad was a firefighter because I wanted the other kids to be impressed and maybe, just maybe, like me. In Kindergarten, I remember lying to my childhood best friend Ana about believing in Jesus Christ and Santa Claus because she made me feel like she would never completely accept me as Jewish.
By 6th grade, Ana and I had drifted apart. She was a head taller than me and looked more mature - She was already wearing a training bra whereas I still looked very much like a little girl. She liked older boys while I was satisfied with playdates and the Disney channel. And then there was a new girl named Caroline. She was loud and impolite and into breaking the rules, but Ana was drawn to her, and slowly but surely she started phasing me out of her life and replacing me with Caroline. During one of our school breaks, she didn't call me once or agree to any of my attempts to meet up with her - so, I made the decision to end our 6-year-long friendship. I did it by leaving her a message on her cell phone, and she left me a nasty message of her own about her now being able to spend as much time with Caroline as she wanted. When I returned from break, I realized Ana was the Queen Bee in our friend group, and that I had gone from having a best friend and several acquaintances my entire school career to nobody.
All of the kids in my middle school had turned against me, and they didn't waste an opportunity to make me feel inferior. I was too flat-chested, I had acne, I was too quiet, I didn't wear designer clothing or bags... The list went on, and I recoiled into myself. I dreaded going to school and would make lists in my diary about how to become popular. Maybe if I cursed more it would help, or if I asked somebody to eat lunch with me. Eventually, thankfully, I got into LaGuardia High School, which I looked at as a fresh start.
In high school, I made friends pretty early on, but my insecurities from my middle school days remained. A girl named Juliette spotted me wearing one of my brother's over-sized Led Zeppelin T-shirts (which I was only wearing to hide the newly formed breasts I was still very self conscious about) and asked me if I liked the band. I didn't want to tell her the truth, and so...I lied. I told her all about how I loved Led Zeppelin and couldn't even pick a favorite song. Meanwhile, at that point in my life, I couldn't even have named one of their songs. To this day I only know Stairway to Heaven... In any case, Juliette and I became very close, and we eventually added a few other seemingly nice girls to our little group. I was best friends with these girls for half of high school, and for the most part I was happy. It was only towards the end that I started to feel dispensable. I recall one day after school singing Mr. Cellophane from Chicago while my supposed best friends walked ahead of me, and as I suspected they barely acknowledged my presence. When our friendship ended completely it felt like a breakup. I blocked them from all my social media and changed my profile picture.
Thankfully, things got better my remaining two years of high school. I very seamlessly transitioned into another friend group that I am actually still in touch with today. I learned a lot from my dealings with mean girls, but it all essentially came down to two things:
1) My mother is always right
2) It's better to be alone than to be with people who don't appreciate you for who you are or have your best interests at heart
Do I think that Ana and Juliette, and the various other people who used to dedicate their lives to ruining mine are inherently bad people? No. I think it's rarely that black and white. I don't forgive them, but I also don't wish them ill necessarily. They are in all likelihood different people than they were in middle school and high school. I know I am.
Mean Girls was a nice musical reminder that just because someone says something mean, it doesn't make them a mean person, and if they are acting mean, there's usually a reason behind it, if not several. Calling someone ugly doesn't make you any better looking, and calling someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter. Lastly, even the people you hate are still people, and it's important to not lose sight of our humanity, which is the global unifier. Regina George got hit by a bus, and boom, people realized that she was not invincible - She was just a person that people had put on a pedestal. And maybe her accident wouldn't make her into a nice person, but she still was just a teenage girl, a kid with her entire life ahead of her and countless opportunities to change her tune and make better choices. Nothing was set in stone just yet.
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