Mean Girls Become Mean Women

Mean WomenBefore the term “bullying” became popular, there were just plain old “mean girls.” Kind of like that movie with Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey but not very funny if you were the one it was happening to. The thing about mean girls is that sometimes they don’t outgrow that meanness and become mean women. In fact, when their lives don’t turn out the way that they had hoped they would, they often become even meaner the older that they get. Their jealousy and insecurities grow larger to the point that they can’t even be happy for anyone else anymore or carry on a conversation without having to make fun of others.

We teach our kids basic rules about bullying. Don’t “take the bait from the hook.” That means don’t let them get to you. It’s easier said than done because not letting them get to you on the outside doesn’t mean that they won’t get to you on the inside. We also teach our kids not to just sit back and watch other kids get bullied. We tell them to stand up for their friends. As women, we need to follow this same advice.

Too often we just make excuses for these adult bullies. We don’t want to get into confrontations with them because that isn’t the “adult” thing to do. So we sit back and listen to them make snide comments about the teachers at the school, other parents (who are often our friends), and even some of the kids in the neighborhood. Mean women tend to have no limits as to who they will ridicule.

We tell ourselves that these women are insecure. In polite conversation, we make excuses for them and say that we feel sorry for them because we know that they must be miserable on the inside. But what we would really like to do is run over them in grocery parking lot. (Which of course we will not do, because we are not mean ourselves).

It’s one thing to be opinionated. Everyone should have opinions. It’s also perfectly acceptable to engage in a little friendly gossip or competition. It’s something else entirely to be utterly, incredibly mean-spirited to the point of constantly hurting other people’s feelings on purpose.

Facebook really empowers mean women. It gives them a huge platform to make their snotty comments. Others “stay out of it” so that they don’t get unfriended or pulled into the fray. Even more, it gives the mean women further ammunition to pick on you because they see so many of the details of your life.

I know this post won’t all of a sudden turn those mean women into Pollyanna’s. They won’t change. What I do hope this post will do is 1) reassure those women who deal with people like this on a daily basis that is happens to all of us–even as adults, and 2) encourage women to stand up to this type of bullying and make it clear that it isn’t acceptable.

The next time you hear one of these women running down one of your friends, tell them you don’t want to hear it. If you are in a group, don’t just quietly hope the subject will change. Change it yourself. Tell her afterward that if she is going to continue to talk like that, you don’t want to be around her. Even if you can’t change her, maybe she’ll learn that if she doesn’t shut up, she won’t be a part of the group anymore.


  1. says

    I really like the last advice: “Tell her afterward that if she is going to continue to talk like that, you don’t want to be around her.” I was wondering why this never occurs to me, and I think it is because I’m afraid I’ll be next on her menu.. I’m really not too good at defending myself in public, so I just try to avoid people coming at me. This is a good reminder though that we do need to all stand up for each other, otherwise we’ll keep having to listen to the poison of mean talk. Thanks for reminding me of this!

  2. Carol Kinman says

    Was thinking about your article above and I heard Taylor Swift’s song “Mean” on the radio……perfect!!!! (I know you’re not a country music fan – but that song is perfect for these mean women!!!)

  3. Carol Kinman says

    I will say it too Ashleigh….. “Amen and Right On!” I really love this article. Thank you Tricia for speaking out about this . We all need to stick up for our friends who are being sujected to cruel and rude behavior by other insensitive and selfish women. I want real friends in my life – not people who will judge me or my kids and be unsupportive of what I am trying to accomphish. Some people just can’t be happy for others. I am glad for the true and real friendships that I do have! (and they know who they are…. :) )

  4. Ashleigh says

    THANK YOU for writing this post. Thank you for saying out loud what so many women won’t say. As women, as human beings, as friends we should lift one another up, cheer one another on, celebrate our friends success and support each other in our triumphs as well as our struggles. I agree with you that when we experience someone being unkind, rude or just plain cruel to another person we need to stand up and say something. We need to call them out on their behavior. This doesn’t mean we need to knock them flat(although that thought may flash through our minds), but it does mean that we need to say that what they are doing or saying is not acceptable and won’t be tolerated( and doing so doesn’t make us “just like them” or “mean” ourselves). There is NO excuse for such behavior. Immediately upon reading your post I wanted to say Amen and Right On! Thank you speaking up.

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