When I watch TV and read the news, I hear about countless tragic bully stories. The large majority of the ones I’ve come across recently are boys bullying boys because of sexuality, gender identity, or because they’re overweight. There is another big pool of bullying that happens that rarely gets touched upon aside from the one Hollywood movie that labeled this phenomenon Mean Girls.
I need to preface this by saying that not all girls bully one another nor is the following true of every group of girlfriends. However, we all likely went to school with at least one group of girls like this but it often goes under the radar.
Way back in 2004 Tiny Fey and crew made a comedy about a clique of girls that had a lot of in-fighting. Given the tone of the movie and the creators, many wrote it off as comedy. The dynamics portrayed among this group of fictional high school girls is highly common and far more destructive than the move lets on.
Girls bully one another in a much different way than boys bully one another. They coat low-blow insults in sugar, or wrap a cutting remark in a figurative bow. Essentially, they find subtle ways to erode one another’s self-esteem (a tactic that boy bullies tend to implement a little more blatantly). There is generally a hierarchy in those groups of girls and if that order is ever threatened, bullying becomes exacerbated. If this group of friends is the one a girl has had her whole life, she may grow up believing that this dynamic is how all groups of friends work, thus ingraining in her a tainted her idea of a healthy friendship.
This is not the kind of bullying that any legislation or increased vigilance on the part of the school can help solve. Stopping this kind of bullying starts at home. If you have a daughter (or other young female loved one) who has self-esteem issues, one possible cause just might be her circle of friends. Are they supportive of her? Do they equally reciprocate efforts of friendship she makes? Does she get super dolled up whenever her girlfriends come over, even if it’s just to watch a movie or do homework?
If this is the case, your first inclination might be to suggest she change groups of friends. While this is the ideal solution, it usually isn’t as easy as that. However, that can potentially do more harm than good. The best thing any parent or loved-one can do is to help the girl get involved in activities to build her self-esteem and to love her up at home. This will build up her self-esteem while facilitating an easy transition from a destructive group of friends to a healthy one.
Guest contributor, Alex Levine.