Mean Girls: They’re Everywhere

Mean Girls: They’re Everywhere

I had plenty of encounters with mean girls when I was growing up. Occasionally, I even played the part of a mean girl to get back at my bullies. This is something I still regret, so it blows my mind when I run into adult women who still haven’t outgrown their mean-girl streak.

Last week, I experienced another mean-girl encounter. Instead of reacting defensively this time, though, I found myself wondering what kind of pain that person must have been feeling to treat me so poorly. Then, I reflected that saying the things she did probably made her feel even worse. Frankly, I felt sorry for her–not too sorry, but enough that I was able to walk away without anger.

As I reflected on this situation, I wondered how many mean girls Jane Austen may have known. Based on the characters in her novels, it would seem that mean girls existed even in the early 1800s. As I analyzed some of these characters’ behaviors, I began to realize that I’d experienced some of the same kind of snobbery in my own life.

See if you have ever met some of these types of mean girls. Then let me know in the comments if you have:

First up is Lucy Steele. This is the kind of “friend” who spills secrets “to help you out.” She pretends to have your interest at heart, but after a while, you begin to realize that everything she says is calculated for her own benefit. She pretends to be honest and maybe even ignorant, but in reality, she’s the master of double-speaking.

In a way, I’d rather deal with a Caroline Bingley than a Lucy Steele. At least with Caroline, there’s no guessing how she feels about you. She snubs you from the start, letting you know in no uncertain terms that you’re not good enough for her circle of acquaintance.

Emma is a more complicated mean girl. She has good intentions. She truly wants to help you. The difficulty is that she’s actually quite embarrassed by some of your flaws. As long as you do what she says, you can keep being her friend. (Emma reminds me of a girl in high school, who tried to get me to stop swinging my arms so much when I walked. Haha.)

Have you ever experienced mean girls like Julia and Maria Bertram? They talk bad about you behind your back, only they know you can hear everything they say about you. They may also dump their least favorite projects on you and blame you for any problems that come up.

I think Isabella Thorpe and Mary Crawford belong in the same general category. They are each the sort of “friend” who uses you as a pawn in order to get a man or a better position at work or a great deal on a used car–you get the picture. You are simply a pawn in her game, and as soon as she gets what she wants, you’re on your own.

To me, the most toxic of Jane Austen’s mean girls are Fanny Dashwood and Lady Susan. These two don’t want to just use you to get what they want. They want what you have, and they don’t care if they have to ruin your life to get it. Watch out for this type. She could be after your man, your house, or your job. I’ve been around long enough to know that women like this really do exist. How about you–have you ever run into one?

Which of the mean girl types have you encountered most in your life? Please comment and let me know.




18 Responses to Mean Girls: They’re Everywhere

  1. Oh great, I have a Fanny Dashwood close to me! šŸ™‚ I got a promotion that she maybe never wanted, but it insulted her that I got it. Like Fanny scorned all the Norland furniture and stuff “she had lost to the Dashwoods”. She assisted me faithfully, as one might imagine. I learnt to smile her off.

  2. I actually changed jobs to get away from two back stabbing co-workers. And when I retired my new supervisor kept in touch and tells me how much my hard work meant and how it still comes up in conversation. She makes me feel so good. I also feel good about the friends I have made on JAFF sites and blogs! Pick your friends carefully. My MO is to usually be a quiet observer like Darcy and than when I have your “number” I know how to act. My husband jumps right in.

  3. My boss just hired a ‘Lucy Steele’. She doesn’t realize how she is being manipulated. Everything ‘Lucy’ does is designed to highlight her goodness. I wrote her an e-mail telling her i knew exactly what she is up to. She ran to the boss to complain. I may quit my job rather than deal with her everyday. I would rather hang out with an Isabella Thorpe. At least she’s fun.

  4. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky. I remember a few Caroline Bingley types in high school, but I didn’t have any direct dealings with them.

  5. I have a very handsome, charismatic brother who is two years older than me, so I dealt with a number of Isabella’s from Jr. High into college. It got to the point I was very skeptical about meeting any girls who were older than me. It seemed like they all were only interested in me in order to hopefully meet my brother. (I even know several girls who persuaded their parents to name their much-younger brothers after mine.) I’ve known a few of the the other types as well, although I think the easiest to deal with are the Caroline Bingleys and Emmas. The Caro’s are transparent and easily walked away from, and the Emmas frequently either grow out of their or can be shocked out of it. The Fanny Dashwoods and Lady Susans are the type I try to avoid at all costs. I actually think the Lucy Steeles and Bertram girls are the type that have cost me the most trouble. They act like friends, they should be your friends, people believe they are, and then they say things that hurt and are very cutting, but if you retaliate, you set yourself up to be viewed as an awful person. Then you have to decide whether you’d rather keep the hurt in and try to learn to deal with it, or have it become more open and be seen as either a mean girl yourself or as a victim. There never seems to be a good way to deal with them unless you can move!

    • So sorry you dealt with such disloyal friends. My brothers were much older or younger, so I never had to deal with girls who liked them trying to be my friends. Thanks for the examples, though. I think they’d make good villains for a novel.

  6. I think what I encountered was more of the Caroline Bingley treatment. You know, that sneer they get on their face after looking you up and down before they latch on to “their” guy as if you are going to snatch him away or throw yourself at him. I was never sure if that look was because they thought (think) I’m a threat, or that I’m not a threat since I dress for my comfort not for high fashion. I just roll my eyes and ignore them. Then I hang out with the people who like me for me.

  7. I had a Caroline Bingley type of mean girl who’s locker was right next to mine in around 7th grade (not sure of exact grade, but it was before high school) as well as sharing a class or two. One day around half way through the school year (by which point I had learned to try to stay out of her way when possible) my math teacher saw her starting in on me and she got in trouble. After that she became a little less obvious and vocal in the hall for awhile since she didn’t want any of the teachers to see her bothering me again, I was a bit of a teachers pet.

    • It sounds like things got better for you because of the teacher’s help. I know it can go the opposite way too. I had a girl lock my purse in her locker over the weekend. I should have told the teachers on her, but I was too scared it might backfire.

      • I never actually told any of my teachers because like you said that can backfire but since the teacher saw her in the act I think that was why it didn’t cause me any extra trouble. She still tried talking about me but didn’t bother me in the hall as much and the insults about what I wore were not to hard to just ignore.

  8. I have encountered the Caroline Bingley type before. When I was in high school. It was hurtful but eventually I learned to let it roll off.

  9. I would prefer to encounter Ms Bingley than the others. She is upfront. I like that better than backstabbing, hypocrites. I can manage frankness with equal directness like Lizzy. Twist something to make it a suttle verbal come back….

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