We all love Glen Coco (whoever that is), we swoon over Aaron saying “It’s October 3rd,” and we can’t help but laugh as Regina George is suddenly hit by a bus in the most shocking plot twist of the story. It’s no wonder Tina Fey’s masterpiece, Mean Girls, defined a generation.
I mean, if the obsession with Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” has taught us anything, it’s that this film is as popular today as it was in 2004, if not more.
But while we reference this movie as a pop culture classic and hail the movie’s comedic genius, we often leave aside why Fey wrote this film in the first place.
While exaggerated, the depictions of high school female cliques still ring concerningly true to young women today. And we should spend more time talking about them.
Understanding the valuable messages in this movie doesn’t make it any less perfect. As a matter of fact, it just makes it funnier. For example, my favorite quote from the movie is:
I mean, Tina Fey is a comedic genius. She so perfectly explains our complex obsession with “celebrity” — whether that’s a popular mean girl or the latest TikTok star.
If you can’t tell by now, I’m obsessed with Tina Fey, and after you realize the pure genius of her messages, you will, too.
Here are some of the most important life lessons from Mean Girls:
Focus on putting positive energy out into the world
If you’re saying something about someone that you wouldn’t want repeated to them, you shouldn’t be saying it in the first place.
By all means, venting and expressing our feelings is healthy for our mind, body, and spirit. But when we start criticizing others in hurtful ways, that’s when we need to check ourselves.
Adding to that, in the words of Cady post pushing/not pushing Regina George in front of a bus: “Calling someone fat doesn’t make you any skinnier.” It also doesn’t validate that you are not that thing. We all need to stop projecting our hurts and insecurities onto others.
Conversely, if you’re on the receiving end of a negative comment about your appearance, remember that the person likely said it because they don’t feel confident about how they look. At the end of the day, it has almost nothing to do with you.
Here’s a tip that helps me avoid speaking negatively and comparing myself to other women:
When you find yourself feeling jealous over a picture you see or someone you see, tell yourself that girl is pretty because of (fill in the blank) and you are pretty because of (fill in the blank). Someone else’s beauty doesn’t take away from your own. Remember this and choose your words accordingly!
Know your worth
If someone you’re romantically involved with is uncomfortable with you excelling more than them in academics, career, salary, or anything else, they don’t deserve to be with you. It doesn’t mean they have to reach your level, but it means that anyone you date must be confident enough with themselves to want to celebrate your achievements.
In the words of the woman I wish was my godmother, Tina Fey: “You don’t have to dumb yourself down to get guys to like you”.
That’s truer today than ever before. These days, women have more equal opportunities than ever before, yet many people still feel uncomfortable with women in power.
Don’t let those people into your life.
If there’s one positive thing to take away from Regina George, it’s that she let no one, no student, no teacher, and definitely no guy, tell her who she was and who she ought to be. And she would never, ever, dull her shine to make someone else more comfortable.
There is no one way to be a woman
The rules set forth by The Plastics highlight the endless list of expectations on young women. You should look “done” at all times, girls have to wear pink, you shouldn’t put your hair up in a pony tail too often, etc… And the truth is many women, even subconsciously, adhere to those sorts of rules that dictate what it means to be a girl.
But women can have all interests, attitudes, and styles, and there is no set color or outfit that signals that you’re a girl.
And how could we forget the scene where The Plastics go around criticizing themselves in the mirror and then wait for Cady to follow along? This is another thing we culturally associate with “being a woman,” and we need to stop it.
Next time one of your friends criticizes the way she looks, hold her accountable and remind her of one of her many amazing qualities.
Apologizing only makes you human
Cady royally ruins her relationship with pretty much everyone throughout the film. She goes from the sweet girl you cheer for at the beginning, to the girl you hope will be hit by a bus. But it’s when she owns up to her mistakes and apologies, that she once again becomes the heroine of the story.
Apologizing goes a long way, but it can seem daunting to admit your mistakes in a society that glorifies success at any cost.
If you find yourself in a situation where you know you wronged someone, even over something small, apologize. Not only will that awkward experience hold you accountable in not doing something worse, but it will build your relationships with others in a positive way.
“It’s so fetch”
By that I mean, be yourself. Even when queen bee Regina George told Gretchen to cut it out with trying “to make fetch happen,” Gretchen kept on going. And now it’s one of the most quoted movie lines of all time.
Our final Mean Girls life lesson goes as follows: Don’t let anyone tell you what’s cool and what’s not, because if there is something I’ve learned from living in six different countries, it’s that cool is a very subjective term. What’s cool in one place will be totally bewildering in another, so really, we shouldn’t worry about it at all.
Be true to yourself, develop your own style, and — seriously — work on being 100% okay with yourself. It’s hard work to stop worrying about what others think, but you will be your coolest self when you stop caring about being cool.
This is one of my favorite movies, but I truly hope it stops “speaking to a generation.” I hope someday it’s only watched for comedic and historic purposes. My biggest dream is that we all finally hear Tina Fey’s message and stop tearing each other down. Instead, I hope we’ll spend our time lifting up other women — and ourselves.
What’s your life lesson from Mean Girls?
What’s your favorite Mean Girls life lesson? What’s your favorite Mean Girls moment? Let us know.