This weekend I saw the “Mean Girls” movie in Georgetown. The theater was packed with large groups of women AND girls, Gen Zers through Gen Xers excited to relive the magic that was “so fetch” in 2004. I have seen the original Mean Girls movie probably upwards of 10 times. I know almost every line and the timing. This is probably why I was let down. There is just no way the acting in this movie had a standing chance against the pure gold of the original Plastics. And this is why: because they missed the whole originality of how the Plastics were really “Mean.” Based on what I heard in the restroom stalls afterwards, I know I was not alone. And so illustrates my point. The best secrets are always in the stalls. I’ve known that since 9th grade. And I have seen “mean” firsthand. This article (which is just for entertainment) examines how old-school mean worked and how some of those strategies can actually benefit you if used in a non-malicious way.
What is Really “Mean” Today Pales in Comparison to 90s Mean
The mean in this film was so …transparent. Without spoiling it, if you are expecting to see the underhanded, subtle meanness of high school girls that you might have experienced if you went to high school before the Facebook era, you will be sorely disappointed. What is considered “mean” today is confrontational, bullying, even physical altercation. The “Mean” I learned was so much more subtle. And in the grand scheme of life, I am glad I can reach back into the past and pull out these tactics. Because let’s face it, office politics is like a version of high school – and you have to be a little mean to survive. Here are three “Mean Girl” tactics from the ORIGINAL movie that could go a long way today.
The Art of Privacy
Back in the ’90s, mean girls were the architects of enigma. They guarded their secrets like prized possessions, sharing them only with their inner circle. Today, it seems like privacy is on the endangered species list. Social media oversharing has become the norm, with people documenting every meal, emotion, and thought. Perhaps, a lesson from the mean girls would be to embrace a touch of mystery. After all, not everything needs to be broadcasted to the digital universe.
The Silent Treatment
Mean girls were masters of the unspoken drama, leaving their victims to wonder what they did wrong. Contrast this with today, where every thought is accompanied by an Instagram story or a tweet. The silence has been replaced by an incessant need for validation through likes and comments. Perhaps, a nod to the ’90s could teach us the power of a well-executed side eye and the art of letting the imagination run wild.
Silent literally does not mean being quiet – but body language communication can go a long way.
The Illusion of Unavailability
Back in high school, my best friend was the mean girl (let’s call her “Kendall.”) Everyone would ask Kendall what she was doing over the weekend starting Wednesday. Kendall would flip her hair back and roll her smoky blue-eyeshadowed eyes, declaring, “I’m SO busy.”
Mean girls were the grandmasters of unavailability, always appearing busy with an air of mystery. They made you work for their attention, and just when you thought you had it, they slipped away. Fast forward to today, where availability is practically a virtue. Social media notifications flood our screens, and the fear of missing out has become a constant companion. Maybe, just maybe, taking a leaf from the ’90s playbook and being a bit more selective with our time could bring back a touch of allure.
This is why I insist on drawing boundaries to get the time you need to work out, eat healthy, breathe, whatever. The more available you seem, the more people will take advantage of that. The better you can draw a boundary and seem “unavailable” or “busy,” the more time you will have to prioritize your well-being, which, at the end of the day, will make you an even better version of you.