A few days ago, I posted something on my insta-stories that I had witnessed at my gym. I received a beyond overwhelming response so I wanted to share it here in hopes it reach a broader audience as well as a few thoughts of my own about mean girls.
Last week after spin class, I decided to stay to do a quick circuit of arms. As I walked toward the weights, I noticed two new girls that I hadn’t seen before. They were total fitness models, beautiful & decked out in the cutest workout clothes. Since I didn’t have my headphones, I could hear their girl-talk; the regular, recapping the weekend, boy drama, etc. I wondered if these two would be my new gym friends. As I was midway through arms, another girl walked in. Regular black leggings, old tank top & frizzy hair pulled back in a messy bun, she put in her headphones & picked up some weights. That’s when their run of the mill girl- talk changed. These two model-esque women started blatantly making fun of this girl. Her outfit, the way she was working out, even questioning why she felt the need to work out her arms when other parts of her body needed more immediate attention; no topic was safe. My heart sunk. I stood there shocked, frozen & speechless until I realized the girl knew they had to be talking about her. It wasn’t conspicuous. The girl made a face of sheer embarrassment, put down her weights and hastily walked away. Still stunned that this could even occur, I threw down my weights and ran after this poor girl as I couldn’t imagine someone coming to the gym, trying to better themselves, only to be crying alone in the bathroom. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find her and think she left right away. My heart has been so broken thinking about this situation.
I’ve been thinking a lot about mean girls lately and know it’s been something every woman has dealt with in their life. In hindsight, I can pinpoint a specific time that nice girls transition to mean girls. Mostly, it seems to happen in late elementary or middle school with high school really being the big crescendo. While overall I had a good high school experience, I was not exempt from being the target of mean girl behavior. I came from a small private elementary school to a larger pubic high school, in a small town. So, therefore, I was an easy target. I was initially made fun of for being “too nice.” Girls said I was only nice because I wanted to be crowned homecoming queen at the end of high school. Really? In another instance, I had come home from NYC where I had seen so many cute, trendy girls wearing hats just like this one. I loved being “fashion forward” (let’s be honest, as much as I could for being a high schooler in the early 2000’s) and wore it to my school’s basketball game. I remember thinking about what exact outfit I would wear with my new beloved hat, exactly how I’d do my makeup; if you think back, it’s a big deal at 16. When a few of my girlfriends and my mom walked into the stands, a group of girls a year older pointed & audibly laughed (read: cackled) at me. Everyone stared. I felt like I may as well be wearing a clown suit. I played it off like Elle Woods in the bunny costume, but inside I was devastated.
Questions raced in my mind. Did I buy the wrong hat? Are hats dumb? Why didn’t I just wear an Abercrombie t shirt & jeans like everybody else at my school? But I can think back and remember the instant I realized it wasn’t me or my hat that these were laughing at. It was their own insecurity. That…and frankly, they were bitches.
What terrifies me most is that stupid mean girls from high school don’t just stay in high school. The big crescendo does not stop there. While my stories are minor examples, they are the instances I feel comfortable sharing; I know many women who had it way worse. And for what? Why do they feel the need to tear others down to build themselves up? Like our teenage awkward phases, why don’t these girls grow out of it?
I may not have been the target at the gym the other day but witnessing it still hurt. There is something to glean from this situation and it’s that mean girls turn into mean women. The gym bully body shamers, shit talkers, moms who feel the need to criticize how other women raise their children and the mysterious social media veil that seemingly makes it OK to make nasty comments. It has got to stop.
What happened to forging #GirlPower friendships on the basis of Spice Girls and working together to bring down Regina George? While I’m not lobbying for us to literally push all mean girls in front of buses, I am hoping that more women will give up their immature and insecure ways and just be kind. Why are we competing against each other when there is room for everyone to be successful?
I hope the next time you’re in a situation with a mean girl, I hope you say something. Because I know I will. I hope next time something judgmental or callous about a friend pops into your head, I hope you refrain from saying it. Because I know I will.
There is enough pink for us ALL to wear on Wednesdays.