“This morning, Chloe, my stepdaughter, was dressed and ready for school. She was donned in a cute, pink and leopard print hoodie and matching leggings from Justice. She commented it was one of her favorite outfits because it was so soft. You see, Chloe is all about comfort. She likes cute clothes but typically comfort prevails. Can you really blame her?
As we were sitting there on the bottom step, waiting for her ride to school, we looked for some new shoes on my phone to pass the time. As we were looking, she murmurs in a low voice, ‘I still like all of my unicorn stuff, and I conquered my fear and wore some of it yesterday. But, um… girls at school will make fun of you for wearing unicorn stuff.’
I was at a loss for words. I always try to instill in Chloe to be an individual. Don’t be a follower. Do her own thing. But can I blame her for not wanting to get made fun of?
I hastily got dressed, got the boys to daycare, and went and sat in the Target parking lot waiting for the store to open. While I didn’t have time to go full blown shopping for her today, I wanted to make sure to get a few things to replace all of the many unicorn related items she has in her closet. Some new, not even worn, that she got for Christmas. She didn’t ask me to buy her new clothes. In fact, she had made the comment she wore the unicorn clothes with the risk of ridicule. I am so proud of her for that. For wearing what she likes even if it isn’t ‘cool.’
Now, this tidbit leads me to what I really aimed to say through all of this…
STOP BEING A MEAN GIRL.
Mean ‘girls’ raise more mean girls. I naively thought once I was grown I would be far removed from the mean girl world I knew from school. You see, I was not, and am still not a saint. I have days where I am grumpy or moody. I have days where I say something that wasn’t the nicest, or I come across rude. However, I never made fun of someone for what they were wearing or how they looked. Maybe because I was introduced to the mean girls at a very young age, and it wasn’t a pleasant introduction.
I noticed in the 4th or 5th grade, some of the other girls had a lot of matching outfits, while I wore the few I had over and over. One of my favorites was a purple Winnie the Pooh shirt. The other was short overalls. I didn’t think too much about this fact – that they seemed to have many more clothes than me – and no one really said anything to me about it.
But then, I was in the 5th grade, and I was having trouble seeing the board in class. My mom took me to get my eyes checked, and lo and behold, I needed glasses. There were not many frames to choose from out of the ones we could afford, but nevertheless, I got some glasses. They were large, red and gold frames. When I put them on for the very first time, I was in awe at what I was seeing. Everything around me was so clear. I was beyond excited for the gift of clear sight. I was 10 years old and had never seen the world so clear.
The next day, I went to school and brought the glasses in the case. I was nervous to wear them, because large frames were not ‘in’ back then. A friend kept asking for me to put them on so she could see them. I finally obliged. That is when I noticed everyone trying to keep the laughs at bay. I put the glasses back in the case and didn’t wear them at school anymore. I went around not being able to even see the clocks that hung on the wall, in lieu of being laughed at for my glasses that weren’t cool enough for the mean girls club.
Fast forward, being an adult with my newly acquired Masters degree, I moved to a new city to begin my career as a Nurse Practitioner. I was hit with the reality the mean girls club still existed. From 4th grade to every job I’ve held as an adult, there were always the few. The few that would make it their mission to not accept you. The few that would whisper and make jokes while they thought you were out of ear shot. The few that circulated rumors. The few that always had something derogatory to say about you. The few that would always leave you out of the loop and make you feel unworthy of being apart of the ‘in’ crowd.
So listen up ladies, while you may think you surely aren’t raising the mean girl, stop and take a look at yourself. While you and your husband are in the front seat driving the kids home from the birthday party you just left, and you make the comment about how Gina’s mom ‘looked a hot mess,’ do you think your daughter’s ears aren’t listening in the back? When you leave church and comment on how you can’t believe Linda would wear something like that, your daughter is listening. When you look in the mirror and call yourself ‘so fat,’ your daughter is watching. When you’re in the stands at your son’s baseball game, and you’re making comments and laughing about some other moms to your friend beside you, your daughter is probably listening.
Ladies, we have to teach our daughters to respect themselves and respect others. Talking about other people in front of your kids is only teaching them that is acceptable behavior. Judging others in front of our kids is only teaching them to pass the same judgement, without hesitation. Talking about another woman to your friend while laughing, is only teaching your kids that it is ‘cool’ to make these types of jokes. While you probably reprimand your child if you catch them actively being mean, remember they’re learning these behaviors from somewhere… and it likely could be from you.
While the mean girls will likely always exist, the world could certainly use less of them. Let’s teach our daughters how to be kind girls. Girls who value others based off of what they have to offer from the inside. Let’s teach our girls to be individuals and embrace other’s unique qualities. Lastly, let’s SHOW our daughters how to be a kind girl.
Survivor of The Mean Girls Club”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Plunkett, 30, of Lumberton, Texas. Follow her on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Jessica here:
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‘Christmas Eve finally came. I had to open that big box first. I tore into the paper and there she was – a My Size Barbie.’: Woman remembers what matters most this holiday season, ‘The pricelessness of being together’
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