It’s getting harder and harder to spot a “mean girl.” Back in the day, we called them bullies and most of us saw “her” coming a mile away. She was always mean and rarely was anyone safe from her tongue-lashing. Whether lacking on the inside with low self-confidence or the outside with a hot mess appearance, her deficiencies she was trying so hard to cover were clear to all. If she weren’t so mean, you’d actually feel sorry for her.
These days mean girls have stepped their game up. They play many positions now –friend, colleague, and confidante. They’re harder to spot because they’re not always mean. Nor are their words as blunt. In addition to coming straight at you, they throw subtle sideways shade. Their mean game is so tight they can do it straight to your face, and still have you wondering if you just got dissed.
We all know a mean girl. Some of us can crown ourselves with the title. To this day I still don’t understand why a good friend of mine is a mean girl. From the outside she’s got it pulled together. Hair done, nails done, everything done. Fancy indeed. Great job. Fly car. She’s a walking advertisement of an I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T woman, and quick to let everyone know. I remember while out shopping, we ran into her ex and his new boo-thang as they were exiting some old ‘90s car parked near her luxury whip. With a devilish smile she made a beeline for them to do what mean girls do:
First came the hug with her ex that lasted a few seconds too long. Then she gave the new boo-thang a slow once-over gaze. It was a look that said, “Really, is this is the best you could do? Not at all impressed.” She followed that up with a cold handshake to the unsuspecting woman. My friend proceeded to catch-up with him by asking if he was still working at the “dream job” she’d gotten him last year, although word on the street was he’d been laid off. She reminded him how he’d been broke up until then, and how the job was a great opportunity to get him back on his feet. Recalling how he didn’t want to take it because it was entry-level, she shared with his boo how it was the only thing he had going on at the time. She remarked that when she found him he was a diamond in the rough, and that it was a shame that without her he’d lost some of his luster. Oh this mean girl was good and her daggers pierced smoothly. Having toyed enough with him, her attention settled on his boo. First question out her mouth was if she worked at the mall, although she quickly apologized for the assumption because she said “it was – well you know – her outfit was just … sooooo retail. She hoped no offense was taken by it.” Of course she didn’t mean anything bad by it right? Wrong! Before the sideways shade could continue I dragged her away, as it was a mad uncomfortable situation to witness. Afterwards I asked what that was all about, and sadly she readily admitted she was hating. Pressed for more, she couldn’t give. But she knew, and more importantly was ok with the fact she was a mean girl.
So how do you spot a mean girl in someone else or yourself?
First, you need to check your mindset. Question the motivations behind your thoughts. Are your intentions good? Or are they designed to ridicule, embarrass, or make you feel better by making someone else feel worse? Ask what’s driving the motivations? Is it competition, fear, self-doubt, or jealousy? If you honestly assess AND address your reasons why, you’re less likely to spit venom. Next, you need to check your tongue. Follow the age old rule ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ (Hey, sometimes oldies are goodies.) So if it doesn’t sound nice, it aint! Whether blunt or sideways, shade is shade. Lastly, check the women in your circle. Mean girls generally, though not always, run with other mean girls. This is not to say you can check them by changing them, but you can choose to set a better example. You can also choose to tell them their mean girl ways are not a good look. Switch it up and purposefully surround yourself with women who chose to empower and uplift others. Soon enough, you’ll have kicked that mean girl spirit to the curb. Tell her I said deuces!