I remember one day during the summer before 6th grade, my dad told me he was worried about me entering middle school. “Girls can be so mean during that time, so if you ever deal with something really hard, let me know and I’ll help you get through it”. My dad, mom, and both step parents were so supportive of me, and probably would’ve killed anybody that I said was making me feel horrible at school.
Yet while my parents were worried about me being bullied, for the greater portion of middle school I ended up being a bully. I followed two ringleaders who said the meanest things about my old and current friends, both to their faces and behind their backs. I’d stand by as they did this, and wouldn’t say or do anything. Sometimes I’d even join in on the conversation.
What in the world happened to me?
Insecurity, that’s what happened. Entering 6th grade suddenly made me feel like I had to be “cool” and “grown-up”, and I wanted friends that would help me be like that. I was terrified that if I didn’t join in on talking about how nerdy a girl was or how big another girl’s thighs were, everyone would turn on me and I’d be treated as horribly as I was treating others. I didn’t have the strength to do the right thing.
I’m not saying that my past insecurities justified my being a bully. Just the opposite: every other middle-schooler had insecurities too, but not all of them did mean things to their friends like I did. It wasn’t until the latter half of 8th grade, when I went from being a bully to being bullied, that I finally realized the importance of standing up for those being made fun of.
Even after experiencing both sides of bullying, I still find myself joining in on bad-mouthing other girls. While I speak up more than I ever used to if someone says something mean, I still find myself being afraid of being ostracized for not joining in on a mean conversation.
Why are us girls obsessed with talking about other girls? Is it more about us, or about the girl we’re making fun of? Is it out of jealousy, or the need to feel powerful? Is it to get more attention and acceptance from your friends? Why does saying something mean about another girl get us more friends than saying something nice?
To be honest I don’t have any idea about the answer to these questions, I only have guesses based off my own experiences past and present. For me, I join in on mean conversations because I’m terrified not to. I’m slowly learning to not associate myself with “mean girls”, but it’s still a work in progress to both avoid them and to stand up for others when they’re being mean.
What are your thoughts? Why do you bad-mouth other girls, or why do you think other girls bad-mouth each other?