In Packaging Girlhood, Lamb and Brown mention the concept of mean girls and a movie by the same name. It isn’t a new concept. Mean girls have been around for a long time. The word girls can by misleading, because it isn’t just girls. Mean girls tend to grow up to be mean women.
There are a few characteristics mean girls have in common. They tend to have deep-seated insecurities. In order to feel better about themselves, they need to have an entourage of followers. Follow along, go with what they say, and you may escape their wrath. Chances are you won’t. Just as they talk about non-followers behind their backs, they are talking smack about their so-called friends, too. If you fit the profile of what they need, they’ll find a way to keep you in the flock in some capacity. Without the followers, they have noone to make them feel good about themselves. Fail to follow the code or dare to think for yourself, and they attack, threatened by their own insecurities.
Facebook, like My Space before it, is the new smack book. Need a place to misconstrue a few details, spread a few lies, discredit someone, or just let out a little passive aggressive hate and fear? Mean girls (and their aged counterparts – mean women) can spread whatever they like via the internet, free of (or at least with limited) accountability. They will stretch the truth or make up stuff entirely in an attempt to make others looks bad and themselves look good. Online venues haven’t replaced old-fashioned gossip get-togethers; they still exist. It’s only added to the tools utilized by those looking for a boost in their lacking self-esteem.
It’s the stuff of cat fights, popularity contests, and mommy wars, and it all begins with insecurity: that of the person building her royal court and of those looking for some attention from such a person. It isn’t a new phenomenon and it won’t soon be a thing of the past. As long as our society pits women against each other and doesn’t stand up to it, mean girls will exist.