Mean Girls taught me to be a feminist

That’s just like, the rules of feminism


Mean Girls was released in 2004. It was the year that Brian left Westlife, McFly released 5 Colours in Her Hair, Britney married Kevin, and Lindsay Lohan became The Shit.

At nine years old, I was too young to watch it (it was a TWELVE), but the film already had a cult following and the first thing I did with my tenth birthday money was go to HMV and buy it, buzzing that my mum was letting me watch a film with such a mature rating.

Frankly, nowadays, the world has moved on. Britney and Kev divorced long ago, Lindsay’s lost it a little, and Mean Girls is written off as ‘Tina-Fey-white-feminism’, the kind of thing Swifty thinks of when she wonders why we can’t just bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and all eat it and be happy.

And it is problematic. There are hardly any minority characters, it uses every female stereotype out there: the dumb blonde, the gay best friend, the lesbian, the spinster – and it places a lot of the blame for misogyny squarely on the girls. But for 10 year old girls like me, who were still reading Mizz magazine and weren’t aware of intersectional feminism, it had so much to offer.

Be like the feminist icon that is Mrs Norbury

When I was 10 I just really wanted to be Cady. I wanted the red hair. I wanted Aaron Samuels. I wanted to look as good in a Mathletes letterman jacket when giving my prom queen speech. But the true hero of Mean Girls is Mrs Norbury. Give her a head scarf and some pin curls, Ms Norbury is the Rosie the Riveter of our day.

Although she’s portrayed as this divorced spinster, she pushes Cady into doing Mathletes because she’ll be good at it, even though it’s “social suicide”, and she makes us realise that we’re all in it together by giving one of the best speeches on Girl World, and showing that everyone feels personally victimized by Regina George sometimes.

STOP calling each other sluts and whores 

When I first heard Mrs Norbury’s line: “you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores, because it just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores”,  it hit me like a big yellow school bus. Girls have enough problems in the world when it comes to expressing our sexuality. We can’t even #freethenipple without being banned on Facebook; we can rarely breastfeed in public without someone kicking off; or want to have sex without being shamed for it. It is a problem imposed by men, but girls shaming other girls doesn’t help, either.

meangirls

Try not to obsess about how you look 

The scene where Regina, Gretchen and Karen are stressing over their flaws in front of the mirror may be satire, but it’s painfully close to the truth. Cady is like a blank canvas when she enters North Shore, kind of like pre-pubescent me starting at a comp at eleven. The only make-up I owned was from a Claire’s Accessories lucky bag, and I wasn’t aware that self-conciousness was a thing. I had peaked.

Like Cady, society hadn’t ruined my life yet, but as Cady gets more involved with the Plastics, she starts wearing more makeup and wearing the clothes that they want her to – just like I did when I started to care what other people thought about how I looked. Moral of the story is do not let your insecurities become obsessions – especially if you get to the point in which you’re moaning that your nail beds suck.

Don’t fucking follow the crowd

Cady follows the Plastics by doing everything they say, wearing everything they tell her to, and basically letting them control her life. Ultimately, she ends up being humiliated, isolated and accused of pushing someone in front of a bus.

Also, in the scene where Janice cuts up Regina’s top to embarrass her, only for Regina to completely own it, the rest of the girls in North Shore who copy her look fucking stupid.

Spread more love in Girl World and yourself 

Even when Janice was trying to explain how awful Regina is like, and despite everyone hating on her, the other girls still bang on about how she’s “flawless”, that John Stamos told her she was pretty, and that her hair is ensured for $10,000. And they do the same for Cady later on. But when Regina asks Cady “so, you think you’re really pretty?” Cady is shamed for it. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with liking, or even loving, how you look. You do you.

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