In defense of the mean girl

From Sharpay Evans to Regina George to Blair Waldorf, mean girls have been a mainstay of pop culture. It should be kept that way.
Confident outfits? Check. Classy swagger? Check. Mean girls have risen in popularity in movies and shows since the early 2000s, relentlessly demanding the attention they deserve.
Confident outfits? Check. Classy swagger? Check. Mean girls have risen in popularity in movies and shows since the early 2000s, relentlessly demanding the attention they deserve.
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One of my favorite movies growing up was “High School Musical,” and a big reason for that was  the character of Sharpay Evans. Though she was portrayed as a villain intent on harassing protagonist Gabriella, Sharpay instantly became my favorite character, and sparked my love for the mean girl archetype. I was captivated by her confidence and style, as well as her willingness to do whatever it took to achieve her goals. Fun fact: she’s also a big reason why pink, a staple in her fashion, is one of my favorite colors.     

In teen media, the mean girl is typically an antagonistic character. Notoriously good at tormenting the main character, these girls are often portrayed as popular, vain, selfish and manipulative. Always sporting the best style, they come from rich families with an air of determined self-assurance. And let’s be real – the story is always the most exciting when these girls are on screen. Mean girls, always taking their prized reputation into account, act like saints around their parents and teachers and only drop the facade of innocence with caution. One thing that I also find very interesting is that many mean girls tend to wear the color pink, as it signifies innocence and gives them the illusion of being kind and approachable. That doesn’t mean that every mean girl is just a one note bully however, as in recent years, there have been more sympathetic portrayals of this iconic character type.      

My favorite mean girl, as well as one of my favorite fictional characters in general, would have to be Blair Waldorf from “Gossip Girl.” The rich and always impeccably dressed Queen B of the Upper East Side surpassed the gold standard for the mean girl trope. In fact, she was so popular that many shows try, and fail, to replicate the character to this day. Followed by her loyal minions, Blair was always scheming and manipulating the people around her to get what she wanted. But what set her apart from other mean girls before her was how complex and relatable she was as a character, making it clear she wasn’t just a one-note mean girl. Even though Serena was the show’s main protagonist, she was just so annoying that it wasn’t long before I was only watching the show because of Blair and her relationship with Chuck Bass.               

No article discussing famous fictional mean girls is complete without mentioning Regina George. When “Mean Girls” came out in 2004, it changed the game for how the mean girl character should be structured. Many mean girls before her, such as Heather Chandler, were merely bullies who were defeated by the kind and amiable main character in the end. On the other hand, Regina showed a unique flexibility, able to be kind and encouraging when it could benefit her, while still being cruel and manipulative when necessary.

For a while, the mean girl was generally disliked by the public and seen as a bad role model in favor of the more relatable main character. The main characters in so many teen movies were what could be best described as “not like the other girls.” This is a subculture that became really popular in the 2010s and consisted of girls who made it very clear they hate anything feminine, including makeup, the color pink and dressing up. These girls would often mock and demean the girls that do like all of those things. In the 2000s and 2010s, many female protagonists in teen movies were often made to be quirky, socially awkward, shy and plain in an attempt to make them relatable, making them the blueprint for the NLTOG subculture. But frankly, many of them were just kind of annoying. I would love to see a movie where the popular, ultra-feminine mean girl is the protagonist and the quirky, unpopular girl is the villain.                            

In recent years, the mean girl archetype has received a newfound love from viewers, especially female viewers, myself included. Many popular mean girls, such as Santana Lopez and Alison DiLaurentis, were given more depth and attention to their emotions and struggles. Viewers were given a closer look into these characters’ personal lives, and shown that many of these girls are the way they are for a reason, affected by factors ranging from their environment to personal insecurities. 

Another thing that I love about the mean girl is that these characters can actually be pretty inspiring. For instance, ever since I watched “Gossip Girl.” Blair has been my fashion icon and study inspiration. These characters were always the most driven and goal oriented and didn’t accept anything less than they deserve, which is how I strive to be.  

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About the Contributor
I am a senior who is graduating in 2024. I am interested in majoring in either psychology or classic literature in College. I like to read books and watch different genres of movies in my spare time. I am currently taking AP Psych and AP Art History. Outside of school, I’m interested in learning about different mythologies and cultures.
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