All though this is supposed to be the era where women are championing other women with the "Yassss Sis"; Where every event is an opportunity to meet each other and support one another; Where every brunch is an opportunity for us to bond and become connected; however, there's still the cattiness that's lurking around the corner with hints of whispers under big fake smiles. I know we would much rather walk around through this women's movement era as if there still isn't the "Mean Girl" spirit running rampant because it makes for a better image; but truthfully the unity stops once it's no longer about the men.
Once the men exit stage left then the solidarity quickly transforms into cliques and where there was once unity now lies competition like drag queens on Ru Paul's Drag Race. It's all smiles and giggles until insecurities start to settle and envy rears its ugly little head. Honestly, I can admit I used to be completely stand-offish and wasn't willing to allow my guard down when I was around other women. I also can admit it had a lot to do with the insecurity of not feeling worthy or accepted. I immediately projected what I felt about myself on to other women by putting up a defense before I gave them a chance to get to know me.
Gabrielle Union speaks candidly about her years of being a mean girl in her book "We're Going To Need More Wine". She even made an appearance on Jada Pinkett-Smith's Red Table Talk and discussed how her insecurities made her somewhat of a bitch to other black women. Even speak ill and diminishing them behind their backs and giving cold shoulders in front of their faces.
I say that to say, we may all have had a "Mean Girl" moment at one point or another because we moved from a place where we lacked self love. Therefore, understanding these type of women you can rise above the pettiness without you getting out of character and stooping on their level. Remember, you're still conducting business and wouldn't want frivolous things to linger on your name whenever it comes up.
Typically, when you think of "Mean Girls" you think of high school; the girls who were well known and used their popularity for influence whether it was to make people dislike you, ignore you or etc. Unfortunately "Mean Girls" grow up to be "Mean Women" and just because we're in era where women solidarity is promoted it doesn't mean that these women or girls have just vanished and went away. They're here. They're just better disguised under the facade of women empowerment and unity. However, it's a way where you can still be the example you want to see, where at the same time you don't allow yourself to be effected.
So here are some things I've learned over the years that may be of some use when you're dealing with the "Mean Girls" of this era.
STAY FOCUS ON YOU
I've struggled with not being included, being outcast, overlooked and even talked about. I used to get frustrated after may attempts of reaching out to collaborate with these type of women. I would have the "why not me" pity parties and take the focus away from what I was actually trying to accomplish. I had to remember I was trying to build a brand as a content creator and not a socialite of the "who's who". I wasn't trying to be the "it" girl so I had to shift my focus back to me. My focus which is to be a platform for black women and our everyday livelihoods.
DON'T TAKE IT PERSONAL
As the great vocalist Monica sings, "Don't take it personal". I have to often tell myself this when I start to get into my feelings and feel personally attacked. When I feel as though what I do gets diminished such as, "the girl who does makeup", and not one of a content creator or blogger I use to take it personal. Or what I'm experiencing right now, where someone has repeatedly reported my Facebook page to the point where it's blocked from being shared and even my website. However, I could take a page out of "whoa is me" but I know that these actions aren't because I've done something wrong on my behalf but that's some issues going on with that person that doesn't have anything to do with me.
Contrary to popular belief, when people tend to do things that directly affect you it has more to do about how they fell about themselves. Like I stated previously, when I spoke about my "Mean Girl" behavior, people will project their own insecurities onto others. So they will diminish what you do because they don't feel like what they do is good enough. They will report your page to get blocked because maybe they aren't happy about the results of their audience on their page. So when you look at it for what it really is, you don't hold resentment towards that person, but more so empathy because you realize they have to fight those demons. Therefore, your're less likely to become combative, confrontational or even spiteful because you understand it's more about them and less about you.
KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS
I know as cliche as this may sound it seems to work well for me because if you honestly think about it mean girls ( when they're older) tend to be passive aggressive with their behavior. Meaning, that they throw "shade" in a way where it can easily be justified with a "I'm sorry you feel that way, that wasn't my intentions" or "I said that? I don't remember doing something like that, but if I did that's not how I meant it." The whole point is.. nothing is never how they meant it and now your sitting their questioning yourself like... "well maybe I overreacted". You know, that whole "gas lighting" theory but that's another post for another day. I say all that to say, sometimes their intentions is to be passive so that you can get out of character and you look like the fool. Plus, it doesn't feel good when you allow someone to get you out of your character. You end up feeling as though you lost control and you allowed someone for that moment to have the control. So just keep it cute sis, if they want to throw shade and have passive aggressive motives let them and still stay cordial and respectful. The fact that they aren't affecting you is what kills them.
I know at this point you're like.."sis, you're running out". Listen, this is a learning and discipline process for me too. You don't know how many times I want to set it off and just say "Look, bitch" ( hey I'm honest and human) but that does nothing for what I'm trying to build. I really want their to be a sisterhood and village among black women. Unfortunately, you can't have that in our community if we don't build a space where we can be open enough to each other without feeling attacked or victimized. So I choose to take the road of understanding why you act the way you act or feel the way you feel; in hopes that I have a different perspective and deal with you differently. Not at all saying that we'll be "besties" and I'll allow you to walk all over me and mistreat me, but I realize that there may be some internalized issues that stems way deeper than me and maybe if I allow my guard down, they will too.
All in all don't allow people to have that much control over you and who you are. If you can't have a seat at the table that shouldn't stop you from creating your own. Of course you don't allow people to mistreat you but don't become them by exemplifying the very same behavior towards them. Show them what you'll do differently by treating them they way they could never treat you because when you are confident in who you are you want to see your sister flourish and grow with you. It's never competition but simply building with one another.
Have you ever felt like you were the victim of mean girl behavior? Are you guilty of being a mean girl? If so, why? Comment your thoughts below.