Red, White and Femme: When Mean Girls Grow Up
Sep 2011 08

Red, White and Femme: When Mean Girls Grow Up

Posted In Blog,Feminism,Love,Politics,Relationships,Sex,Society

by Darrah de jour


[ Bully, Sunshine and Meow in Schooled]

When I was in eighth grade, after two years of scratching, clawing, whining and whimpering outside the door of the popular girls, I was finally let in. I scored a cute boyfriend, who, without coincidence, was my BFF Paula’s* boyfriend’s best friend. Paula (a Queen Bee) was a transplant from a nearby school and was part Filipino with gorgeous thick black hair, thick black eyebrows, tan skin and a smattering of freckles on her nose. She wasn’t particularly thin and this made me happy. I was happy because I was 13 and absolutely obsessed with my weight. Plus, if she was super-popular and not super-skinny, then maybe I could be too!

I was dreadfully insecure, and covered this up by being overly-nice, pleasing everybody within a four mile radius, not doing things my popular friends told me not to, and doing pretty much anything they approved of. This included wearing overalls with one suspender hanging down, walking during P.E. instead of running, even though I was a great runner (thus, getting a B instead of an A), ditching class and going to the mall to occasionally shoplift nail polish and other assorted sundries, and talking back to my parents about curfew.

Eighth grade got even more complicated when one of the other popular girls, Karly* (a Middle Bee), a beautiful, thin, big-boobed, pouty-lipped girl with more sexual experience than li’l me, fell for the same boy that I liked. Eddie had been flirting with me by whispering in my ear on the way to class that he wanted to fuck me. These were some pretty advanced little nothings. I just giggled. Really, I was mortified, but given that he was a year older and about three inches taller than the rest of the pimply faced guys in our class, plus a legend on the b-ball court, I dealt.

One night, Eddie came over to my house. Well, he cat-called me from outside my window. And when I came outside, he French kissed me and felt me up over my Calvin and Hobbes T-shirt. I remember his friend watching from the driver’s seat, and that he never turned off the headlights. Afterward, Eddie told me not to tell anyone. I recall feeling instantly ashamed, and a pang weighted my gut – I had done something wrong? I figured he was embarrassed about his affiliation with me and wanted to keep it secret, in the same way girls take guys to some restaurant in a weird part of town when they don’t want anybody to see or meet ‘em. He didn’t molest me (although the experience was less than gratifying for me) and he didn’t have a girlfriend. So why the secrecy?

I didn’t have a lot of time to wonder. I instantly dialed up Paula, and told her what had happened. Her retort I will never forget. ”What about Karly? What is she gonna say?”

Despite promising she would never tell a single soul. Ever! Paula told Karly. I spent the next two months exiled from the popular girls. Of course, it was Bat Mitzvah season, and I had garnered a hefty amount of pink, glittery invitations and my mom had already bought expensive gifts for these soon-to-be ‘adults.’ So, I trudged through school, and then the weekends. Through P.E.’s alone, and through lunches (I was now back talking to the ‘nerds’ from whom my ego was sure I’d transcended). And Derek and I broke up. Even girls I didn’t know made fun of me. They didn’t even know why they were doing it. I got yelled at by strangers at lunch. I began eating at the lunch tables, instead of parading my Diet Coke and new NYC lipstick shade next to the planters in the middle of the courtyard, where everybody could watch me and my friends and our hypercolor clothes. One Skidz suspender licking the pavement. I considered joining band.

Until one day, out of nowhere, Paula called me after school to let me know that Karly had decided to forgive me and “the group” would too. Paula said she’d arranged it, and credit should go to her. I thanked Paula profusely, and she called me “sweetie.” I was back in. Forget the fact that she was the Puppet Master who had used all the girls in “the group” like marionettes to entertain her court. Forget the fact that I had trusted her and she had betrayed me. Forget the tangible lessons about how downright shitty me and my friends were to ‘the nerds’ –– and yet they were the only ones to include me once I was ousted from Popularville. Forget band. I was cool again.

I told my mother. She wasn’t happy. I believe she said something graceful and motherly, something to the effect of “Screw them!” My mom, god love her, has always had the potty mouth of a sailor. Wanting to be just like her when I was a kid earned me the brother-coined nickname Eddie Murphy Jr. But I digress… Mom told me that we’d grown closer over the past eight weeks, and she just knew she was going to lose me.

But, I never did forget what happened that year in eighth grade. And it never really was the same. Shayla* (an Afraid-to-Bee), a girl in the lower tier of “the group” had risen through the ranks and surpassed most to land in my coveted spot next to Karly and Paula, and she wasn’t too thrilled about my return. She even tried to start a physical fight with me in art class that the teacher had to break up. I never fully trusted my friends, and I got so angry and panicked about socializing with them that my knees used to shake and my heart would race. Did I mention this was junior high school?

Those girls have inevitably grown up to become women. And yet, our society has not changed much in regard to how we allow women to express their anger. We can’t. Women who express their anger like men are dubbed ‘angry women.’ In case you hadn’t noticed, society doesn’t like angry women. I don’t know a lot of women that aren’t angry however. Not unless they are on heavy doses of Lithium. I do know a lot of women who stifle their shit. Who would be a psychologist’s dream. Who could be called passive-aggressive. Maybe even bi-polar. Who appear fine on the outside, but I’d be damned if I didn’t find a razor blade hidden in their VS panties.

These are the women who have cheating husbands. These are the women who haven’t been given the raise they deserve. These are the women throwing up their dinner in the big stall when you dry your hands halfway and jet to give her privacy. These women are no different than you or me. We’ve learned to gossip, trash talk, stink eye, suppress, cry in private, and throw up our hands. We’ve learned to eat funny and obsess over Gilt Groupe and dye our teeth and bleach our assholes. We’ve learned how to change our molecules, adapt, be chameleons, receive and give until our skin crawls. But, we never did learn what to do with all these crappy feelings. Cuz in 2011 it’s still not considered all that cool for a woman to lose her shit. Not with the kids, not with her man, not at work, and not with her friends. But, covert missions to seek out and destroy? We got that one covered.

*Names have been changed to protect the accused. And me. Those bitches be scary!

If you dug this story, check back next month, when Darrah chats with the creative forces behind the movie Mean Girls, and experts in the field of female friendships and the teen bullying epidemic.

Photos: Bully, Sunshine and Meow in Schooled.

***

Darrah de jour is a freelance journalist who lives in LA with her dog Oscar Wilde. Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W. In her Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina columns for SuicideGirls, Darrah will be taking a fresh look at females in America. Visit her blog at Darrahdejour.com/srblog and find her on Facebook.

Related Posts:
Red, White and Femme: Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Polyamory, Part II
Red, White and Femme: Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Polyamory Part I – With Annie Sprinkle
Red, White and Femme: America is FUGLY
Red, White and Femme: Trusting The Ring of Purity – Faith vs Sex Education
Red, White and Femme Fearless Femme Spotlight: Mia Tyler

9 comments
Natalie India
Natalie India

Amazing article. I can totally relate. you write with such a way that is so understandable i cant wait for the next one ;)

Brad_Warner
Brad_Warner

Great article Darrah. Is it bad that I consider the accompanying photos to be super hot?

Darrell
Darrell

Very well written depiction of adolescence from a female perspective. A couple things jumped out at me while reading this. First one being that it's very strange that it's considered cooler to be a jerk than to be nice. No one ever accuses "nerds" of being a jerk, but everyone accuses them of being uncool. If one is too nice like Darrah was considered, they are not "popular crowd material" until they behave in an anti-authoritative manner. Wouldn't it be great if people like that were viewed as a "loser" instead of the nerds? Wouldn't it also be great if all these kids while at that age had access to someone who really cared that was 10 or more years older (not a parent but either a sibling or maybe a cousin) who could let them know in an effective way how trivial shit like "being popular" really is and how they will look back at it when they are older and see the ridiculousness of it? I realize that some kids still wouldn't heed the words of the older person, but others would and it would greatly help them. I wish I had access to that, even though I cared less about being popular than many others did. The other thing that jumped out at me was Darrah's statement about how most women she knows are fraught with anger derived from both their life experiences (where men's anger derives from too) and subsequently due to their inability to express that anger. I can see how that societal double standard can be very frustrating, just as there are many other double standards that are equally frustrating to men.  Good stuff Darrah.

Tiffany
Tiffany

This story reminds me of soooooo many kids who regret some part of their lives in school or in other areas growing up. It's so funny, but gratifying that we can grow out of being mean, spiteful or hateful. Some of us never do, but most of us see that there is a better way. As adults however, we have a debt to the youngin's to set a good example of what beautiful, responsible men and women should like. If we do that, with confidence and resolve, the young people will automatically want to emulate US! That's how we pay our Karmic debt for anything and everything we might have done wrong when we were growing into adulthood. Mean girls CAN grow up to be stunning in every imaginable way. Great story Darrah with a set of lessons apt for us all.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Oh and this is theaceface Darrah  :)

Anonymous
Anonymous

The teenage struggle for popularity is ugly.  I can only imagine how much worse it must be today as opposed to when I was growing up.  You paint an ugly picture beautifully, if that's possible.  :)

Tim
Tim

I was never exposed to this type of enviroment.  Well, not as severly as you were.  As I grew up my family moved about every two years.  My friendships were temporary.  Hence I never had to pay for my "sins".  I hear these stories and my jaw drops.  Yet, your right not much has changed.  People continue to be petty and selfish well into adulthood.  Great story.

Emily Rose
Emily Rose

This was Awesome Darrah! All too familiar as I've been on both sides of the "popular" door in Junior high as well! Women really need to unite and change the way we treat eachother :)

maria
maria

This is one of my favs from you so far, D! And a personal note: The part about Bat Mitzvah season reminded me of how I was ousted from the popular group right before communion season. I remember the stress of telling my parents that my "friends" would not be attending my party. Ah, memories of junior high. Looking forward to reading next month's interview!

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