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The evolution of the stereotype of the mean girl

The new "Mean Girl" movie is coming, but is being a mean girl still cool?

The evolution of the stereotype of the mean girl  The new Mean Girl movie is coming, but is being a mean girl still cool?

We are the daughters of Regina George and Gossip Girl could be the anthem of girls who are just in their mid-twenties. Do we still remember the time when the topos of the cool girl consisted of a sophisticated synthesis of talent for manipulating the minds of others and emotional detachment? Beyond tartan mini-skirts and pastel eye shadow, there is much more that the leading ladies of 2000s pop culture have handed down to us. "Mean Girls" (2004) is the eponymous showcase film for this strand. Not everyone knows, however, that it was inspired by a book published two years earlier, "Queen Bees and Wannabees", which is really nothing more than a parenting manual on how to help your daughter survive high school with all its problems, gossip, first love and all the other critical aspects of adolescence. Cady Heron, the protagonist of the film, is a clueless and naïve girl who in no time is so captivated by the calculating but pink world of Regina George, the popular girl, that she has to become a perfect copy of her. That was the model to imitate, even in real life and among celebrities. Now that the new Mean Girls movie is coming to theaters, we wonder if the "queen bees" mentality still remains popular. 

Not just Regina. Sharpay, Blair, and the queen bees of our adolescence

@555matteo like i already know? #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #viral #relatable #selfcare #selflove #confidence #motivation #gossipgirl #gossipgirlhere #blairwaldorf #555 original sound - ilusíon

The mean girl is a character we grew up with. Even before we knew Regina George, as children we got to know Sharpay Evans, the blonde antagonist from High School Musical.As much as she grew on us, there's no denying that Blair Waldorf is the other great bad girl precursor. She's cold, vindictive and used to getting everything she wants at the cost of stomping on everyone in front of her. She is a role model who still inspires thousands of girls in terms of style. The white stockings paired with cape coats and classy hair accessories are still iconic for the generation that waited for an episode of Gossip Girl not only because of the storyline, but also to be captivated by all those crazy looks. But are we sure both Regina and Blair still inspire today's girls when it comes to their philosophy on life?

OG cast reunion and the new "Mean Girl"

A few weeks ago, Lindsay Lohan, Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried returned to take on the roles of Cady Heron, Gretchen Wieners and Karen Smith for a Walmart commercial. In one minute and 56 seconds, we are catapulted back to North Shore High School, where the students still wear pink on Wednesdays. The freshman mean girls are no longer teenagers, but grown-up versions of their iconic characters: Gretchen is the "cool mum" of the group, Cady is a guidance counsellor and Karen is a reporter. Only Regina is missing because her interpreter, Rachel McAdams, didn't want to take part in the project. Perhaps even the cliché of the queen bee who bullies her classmates seems anachronistic to her. But despite Gen Z's "wok" mentality, which is centred on sisterhood rather than enmity, the hype surrounding the reunion is huge and the pictures are doing the rounds on social media.

Just like the trailer for Mean Girls: The Musical. The new Mean Girls film will not be a sequel, but an adaptation of the stage version that premiered in 2017. Tina Fey, who previously wrote the screenplay for the 2004 feature film and the libretto for the play, will pen the screenplay. The plot is expected to remain largely unchanged, apart from the many songs that appear in the musical adaptation (including Olivia Rodrigo's "Get It Back") and a completely new cast. The new leads are Angourie Rice, Reneé Rapp, Auliʻi Cravalho and Jaquel Spivey as Cady, Regina, Janis and Damian respectively, while Avantika, Christopher Briney and Bebe Wood will play Karen, Aaron and Gretchen. 

It is time for the "kill them with kindness" girls

Despite the buzz raised by new projects involving "Mean Girls" and the celebration of Mean Girls Day on Oct. 3, on TikTok, videos of "retired bad girls" revealing their sins as if we were in a church confessional have sparked a very specific statement: being the bad girl is no longer in fashion. In the real world, we have seen that public adulation is not achieved in the same way. In fact, the it girls of the moment are the ones who would have been considered anything but in any film or series of the 2000s. Bella Hadid is a case in point. She is involved in charity campaigns and is described by all fans who have had the chance to interact with her as a very approachable and empathetic person. in 2022, she was perhaps the most followed woman. The same goes for influencer Alix Earle, TikTok's latest discovery: Everything Alix does or says automatically goes viral precisely because those who follow her recognise in her the humanity they would want in a friend. The popular girl is now one who is in touch with her spirituality, holds no grudges, meditates and, above all, is kind. An adjective that had largely disappeared from our vocabulary because it was not trendy.

@stalkersarah I randomly think about this sometimes and I’m just like… what was that #greenscreen #haileybaldwin #haileybieber original sound - Stalker Sarah

Recently, following the drama between Hailey Bieber and Selena Gomez, the journalist known as stalker Sarah, who is known for collecting excessive photos with every famous person in Los Angeles between 2010 and 2014, also spoke out. She not only confirmed the model's less than tolerant attitude, but also took the time to explain how popularity worked on the hottest social networking site in those years. Compliments were not fashionable on Twitter, "lifting each other up or something", she quoted, was not a hip option among girls, rather it was trendy to be snarky and throw indirect barbs at each other to also generate some kind of hype. Maybe Hailey and Kylie Jenner are out of touch when it comes to trends?

Is being a mean girl no longer cool?

Staying on topic, 2015 saw the release of Selena Gomez's single "Kill Em With Kindness" and 2019 even saw Harry Styles' "Treat People With Kindness" Kindness is once again an option, leaning among girls a natural rule. Even the most relevant productions in recent years have changed course. In the HBO teen drama Euphoria, the character who might be closest to the mean girl is Maddy Perez, who reinvents this stereotype in innovative ways. Maddy is a loyal and sincere friend who has no intention whatsoever of sabotaging her girl group. The queen bees portrayed on screens are usually cruel and selfish, whereas here the tables are turned. Euphoria has been highlighted as the breaking point TV between what has happened so far and what is to come from now on.

What does it mean to be a bad girl today? Is the interest in the original film and the new one the result of a generation repressing the experiences of their youth, is it the result of nostalgia for a cult film, or is it a confirmation that the overbearing and evasive queen bee attitude, however much it is condemned, remains popular? The answer is perhaps a mixture of all of these things. The cliché of the girl who bullies other girls survives in the films because it continues to exist in reality. In parallel, there is an attempt in Generation Z to create a sisterhood based on inclusion and the idea that it's okay to be "vulnerable" or come out. It's actually cool. The word "fetch" is unlikely to come back into fashion, but perhaps it will be possible to bake a cake with rainbows and smiles when people realise that in 2023 #girlssupportgirls, #GRLPWR and #TreatPeopleWithKindness are more than pixel-filling hashtags, but the expression women use to tell the world they no longer want to be a stereotype.