Why are girls so mean to other girls? I know, I know, I’m asking an ancient question that many have tried to answer. I don’t have the answer either. I do however, have experiences.
I was in the fifth grade. Fifth grade is an interesting time for a young person. It’s about that time, for some girls, to start wearing bras and maxi pads– which means stinky body odor and oily skin. If you know me personally, I am not always the most socially savvy person on the block, in fact I have some idiosyncrasies that make me a bit awkward (which my hubby finds absolutely adorable, thank you very much). Although, when I was younger it was waaaaaay worse. I tried very, very hard to fit in with the cool kids, and well, it was very hard to fit in with them when you are a bit of a dork. The reality of the situation, as I remember it, we were not very nice to each other, and because of my special powers of clumsiness, timidity, and trying to be someone I wasn’t, the other girls didn’t necessarily want much to do with me.
The one thing I wanted to do was be a cheerleader. All the cool girls were doing it, and I didn’t want to be left out. Our school use to have classroom teams for basketball, so that meant classroom cheerleaders for each team. It was all strictly voluntary from our school staff, and the parents. Parents would volunteer to coach the team and direct the cheer team. There would be a mom or grandma that would volunteer their time and resources to sew the cheerleader outfits. IT WAS A HUGE DEAL!
So one day my fifth grade teacher announced that it was that time to sign up for basketball and cheerleading. So all the cool girls lined up and signed up to be in the cheer squad. I rose up from my seat, walked up to the sign up sheet and signed my name to be a part of the squad. One girl stood by me, looked at me and asked, “You are going to be a cheerleader?” I smiled, and announced, “Yup!” with all the excitement it a fifth grader can conjure up. She stared at me, sighed and announced pretentiously, “If you are going to be a cheerleader, then I am not going to be a cheerleader,” and scratched her name off the list. Then her little friend next to her said, “If she isn’t going to be a cheerleader, then I’m not either!” One by one all the girls came up and scratched their names off the list and decided to play basketball instead.
Now of course I was hurt, sad and angry. In fact, I probably would have gone home crying, but for some reason I didn’t want that little bitch to get the best of me. So I kept my name on the list and told my teacher I was still going to be a cheerleader. The next day one other girl decided to join me. So we cheered, us two, and when she couldn’t make a game, I cheered by myself and vice versa. We even received a nice little plaque from our school.
After that year, I decided to not cheer ever again.
Instead I decided to play basketball.
I didn’t join to spite these girls, who happen to stick with basketball, I joined because I truly had a love for the game. My oldest cousin was a star athlete at the high school, and my grandparents would take me to watch her play, after that I wanted to be just like her.
The girls of course did not want me to be a part of their team. So I ate alone during our away games, I sat alone on the bus, and the worst was being teased for the type of clothes I wore. My folks could not afford the name brand shoes or clothing they were accustomed to. So they all decided it would be great idea to show team solidarity by purchasing the same basketball shoes called Jordans. Jordans were the hot commodity during that time. They were also very expensive. I begged my dad to buy me a pair. It wasn’t going to happen, so in compromise he bought me a pair of Nike’s. As nice as that sounds, he bought them TWO SIZES too big! I think he thought I was going to grow to be six feet tall or something, and didn’t want to have to keep buying me shoes so he bought them in hopes I could wear them til’ I graduated. At least he tried right?
When I came out of the locker room wearing those shoes, I looked like a fucking clown wearing those huge red clown shoes! And every time I ran I kept tripping over myself, (you try running with shoes two sizes too big) so my dad bought me these enormous knee pads for me to keep my knees safe. So naturally the girls had a field day. “Nice shoes you got there, skelator!” Skelator was the name they gave me because I was also skinny like a skeleton. Looking back, I really did look ridiculous! Luckily one of the girls let me borrow a pair of her old shoes that fit much better.
They tried very hard to get me to quit.
The friends I did have even told me I should quit.
I wasn’t quitting.
So I played all the way through high school. I wasn’t the best, in fact I discovered I was better at Track and Field, but it kept me out of trouble.
So why are girls so mean to other girls? I’m sure there are lots of reasons, but in the end it doesn’t matter.
Here’s a little story that made all that suffering worth it.
I needed a ride home from practice one evening, so one of the girls offered me a ride. She was one of the girls who participated in the teasing back in Junior High. I didn’t live too far from the High School so it wasn’t a long ride.
As we started to my house, she lowered the music in her jeep, and proceeded to tell me this, “You know Roxanne, I’m really proud of you that you never gave up. Sometimes people influence you in ways that are not always nice, and I’m so happy to see that you didn’t quit. It really inspired me and I hope you can forgive me.”
Doesn’t that make you smile?
Yes, girls are mean to each other, but we are also great to each other. Did you notice how there was always at least one girl who would show some benevolence?
I wish I could say that bullying is no longer a part of a child’s life, but unfortunately, it’s becoming worse and worse. I wish I had the solution and who wants to endure years of teasing and isolation?
However, I don’t think it’s just an adolescent problem. Maybe they learn it from the world around them?
The better question is– Why are we so mean to each other?