By Molly Atchison | Print Managing Editor
While watching the cult classic “Mean Girls” the other night, a realization dawned on me: I had always envisioned myself as a Cady Heron, the young ingenue with naturally perfect hair and a sweet disposition. A protagonist of high moral values, who may be led astray but eventually returns to her bright, shining self.
However, as I sat there watching Mrs. Norberry ask the girls about being victims of bullying, I realized that sometimes, I share more qualities than I’d like with the ice queen Regina George. Sometimes I can be vapid and self-centered, more focused on my appearance or what others think of me than what I believe in. Sometimes I’m a bad friend, worrying more about what is going on in my own life than the fact that someone else might be upset, hurt or suffering. This doesn’t make me a bad person, only human. But while we all aspire to be the glowing heroine, it’s the mean girl that we often let lord over our choices.
We, as women of the 21st century and as students at a competitive university, have every opportunity to better ourselves. But so often we fall into ruts where we find ourselves hurting the ones we love or worse, ourselves, in an effort to meet the pressure society puts on us. As mean girls, we frown at the unattractive, awkward middle school versions of ourselves while we primp in an attempt to settle into the perfectly shambly, beautiful but effortless versions of ourselves. You know the one: the “I just woke up and I’m so tired but my hair is brushed and my mascara is flawless” version of ourselves. College students live in a constant contest of who can be the most put together while falling apart, and that is when the mean girl in all of us comes out to play.
When you are jealous of your best friend for being busier than you, or of the sorority sister that got a better grade than you, you are not only enforcing the college version of mean girls judgement, but also an unhealthy and harmful image of yourself and others. We don’t all live up to the same standard; what may be seemingly effortless to others may be incredibly difficult on your mental and physical health. What may be easy for you may cause others to cry with frustration.
But that’s the beauty in being an individual; we’re not all the same. We don’t have the same strengths, the same looks, the same abilities. Comparing ourselves to each other only reinforces the flawed logic that we have to be as good, if not better, at the same things as everyone else. If we don’t live up to the core standards that are taught in schools, in magazines or on social media of what a college student – or a woman – should be, we are a failure in some way. When we step outside of that mentality, we realize that we are capable of excelling in so many things that don’t fall within those standards, and that we become the worst versions of ourselves when we try to confine ourselves to them. We become the mean girl, the girl nobody wants to be, when we try and force ourselves to be just like everyone else.
Everyone loves Cady Heron because she’s the outcast who was accepted. And everyone hates Regina George because she tries to change Cady’s “specialness.” But the truth is, Cady Heron and Regina George are one and the same; all that’s different is the way they react to the confines of society. We all have a little bit of Cady and a little bit of Regina in us. We are always trying to change our own “specialness” to fit the world, when instead we should be changing the world to fit our sparkle.