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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Does Every Girl Have a Regina George in Their Past?

Anyone who has seen "Mean Girls" knows exactly who Regina George is.She is the Queen Bee, the head of the "Plastics," the prettiest, most popular girls in school. You know that girl - the super-shiny hair, flawless skin, thin, probably had big breasts... yeah your basic ninth grade nightmare. But even worse, she was mean.

I got thinking about my Regina George after reading about Taylor Swift's Regina 2.0. It amazed me that someone who is as successful as Swift still remembers hers - Sarah Jaxheimer. 

I won't name mine because, well, that seems unnecessary and petty, but I will say, I too had my mean girl who made grades five through nine (when I moved) pretty darn terrible. She was smart, had the requisite super-shiny hair and gorgeous skin, was athletic, thin, boys liked her, and could be quite cruel.

At my school we wore uniforms so except for the occasional wild card of a Friday where we got to wear "regular" clothes, we all matched in our gray skirts, white shirts and blue blazers. "Sally" always looked cuter, had more style and let me, and the other not-so-popular girls know it.

The memory of sleepovers I wasn't invited to, and the whispers behind my back have faded but aren't completely gone. And I'm glad. Having been subjected to mean girl behavior I have always gone out of my way to never be that girl, because sadly, mean girl-ing doesn't stop in high school. Even as an adult I've dealt with snarkiness and cruelty, which totally floors me. The need to make yourself feel better by putting down someone else is something I've never understood.

About five years ago I returned to this small, private school on the shores of Narraganset Bay for a reunion. I went mostly to take my mom, who had been a teacher at the school, because as she approached 80, I wanted her to see this lovely campus one more time and connect with former colleagues and students.

I was nervous. I didn't have the best memories of this place, and didn't know what to expect.

I had not been in that tent by the bay for more than ten minutes when Sally made a bee-line for me. She hugged me, an anomaly in itself, and then did something even more shocking. She apologized for how mean she'd been to me.

In that moment I realized she had carried more pain from her behavior than I had. In all honesty Sally never crossed my mind, but obviously I had  hers. I of course told her all was forgiven, but I have to say it was validating that she knew she'd been unkind, and was taking responsibility for it.

It is naive to think of a world where girls aren't mean and support not compete, but I'm always hopeful. If Sally can apologize for telling the other two girls in our class to not be friends with me (it was a tiny school) I'm convinced anything can happen.

It's not easy surviving Girl World., and at the risk of sound like a very old Coke commercial I wonder, can't we all just be nice to each other?

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