How not to be a ‘Mean Girl’

Victoria Herrera

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Looking for flaws in someone else never makes you a better person

MEAN SCENE. There's more to be gained by being a friend than by being a 'mean girl'

MANILA, Philippines – I was watching the movie “Mean Girls” last night, with a core group of girl friends I have in Singapore. As we were watching this 2004 walk down memory lane, we were all laughing at how the jokes were, probably because they were based on real moments in girl behavior. To be quite honest, we recognized that a few of these patterns have at one point applied to us, or we’ve been like this at one point in our lives: a mean girl. 

As the movie comically illustrates, girls have the tendency to compete with each other. Born from insecurity, these urges take over the ego and decide that it’s up to us to prove we are better than other people. 

When our identity and security feel threatened, we go after the other girl’s weaknesses. Trivial things regarding their appearance or behavior become a resource for attacks. The insults our minds come up with are far more inventive than we realize: “Did you see her outfit? If I were her, I would burn it before I leave the house,” “Did you see her new boyfriend? He’s so ugly.” “I can’t believe she said that during class, she’s so dumb.” “I’m thinner than her right? I mean look at her, she’s a whale!” and so on and so forth. 

FACE-OFF. Most of us have experienced what's it like to be mean or to be put down by someone mean

Flaws and forgiveness

I know I’ve gone through this stage and managed to come out alive. What I did realize at this point (and what the movie did point out in the end) is that looking for flaws in someone else will never uplift you to become a better person. Harboring these resentments takes your focus off self-improvement and instead pushes you to compete with the “mean girl.” That’s a lose-lose situation, really. It makes you exactly like her: mean

So while you could be complaining and comparing, it’s often a good time to stop looking at their negative traits and instead evaluate the presence of these flaws within yourself. If you are frustrated at a flaw in someone else, it’s a good time to reflect and ask yourself, do I have this within myself? 

For example, “Do I act jealous? Do I gossip? Do I make promises I cannot keep? Do I always talk about myself? Do I act unsupportive? Am I selfish? Am I critical? Am I a ‘Frenemy’ to someone else?” (For those of you not acquainted with this term—“Fremeny” describes a friend who often acts like an enemy, resulting in superficial friendships.) 

Don’t listen to your ego and its desire to compete and compare. Instead, listen to your truth. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to keep up with anyone else. If you feel insecure about one facet of your life, it’s okay to acknowledge it, find the root, and take steps to build your confidence. At least you’ll be living more authentically. 

Friendships first

Working on your inner security and sense of confidence helps you become a better friend. How so? When you are secure, you will be happy for the success and accomplishments of your girl friends. You won’t feel threatened if someone moves ahead of you. You won’t pick on superficial weaknesses. You will be encouraging, warm and supportive. I find that once you come from a place of inner confidence, you will also attract a set of friends who reflect your personality. After all, like attracts like.

While the “mean girls” we know might never change, sometimes you’ll realize it’s just a phase we all had. When we transition to new roles and responsibilities, life will throw us harder challenges that change our perspectives. 

Some of the girls whom you used to compete with may now be mothers who only care about taking care of their kids. Or, some girls may have gone through intense family struggles, or may have lost someone important to them. They may not care about competing anymore, but be happy in life.

So today, choose to connect with another woman on a deeper level. Choose to empower another woman. Choose to be supportive to another woman’s dream, and to congratulate, smile and applaud her when she achieves that dream. We all need a real friend. Be her. –

Girl with “loser” sign image from Shutterstock

Mean face drawing image from Shutterstock

Victoria HerreraVictoria Herrera is a TV and event host, model and writer. In 2011, she released her first book, “Unscripted,” based on inspiring conversations from her previous radio show. In 2012, she hosted Runway TV Asia where she interviewed international fashion designers and celebrities. Currently based between Manila and Singapore, she continues to explore the world of creativity, design and fashion as a contributor for several publications.

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