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Mean Girls: You Won’t Believe What This Middle Schooler Does to Her “Friends”

Erin Zammett Ruddy

A friend told me about some jaw-dropping mean-girl antics going on in her daughter’s school and I had to share it with all of you. This stuff makes me so mad—and sad—and I’m dying to hear your thoughts.  

So in this middle school, like many schools I imagine, there are cliques and there’s a group of “popular” girls. The main girl, who my friend refers to as the “alpha” below, will call out urgently to one of her followers to come over to her. Then, in front of the whole circle of girls, she’ll tell the requested girl to tie her shoe. And the kicker: several of the girls do it! My friend learned about this from one of her daughters, who is on the periphery of the group. She asked her daughter if the “favor” is ever reciprocated—does the Alpha ever get yelled at by the shoe-tier? Does the Alpha ever run over and get down on the ground to tie the shoe of the other girl? Clearly the answer was no. It gets worse. Here’s more of what my friend told me:

“The newest domination tactic adopted by the Alpha is to tell a girl to come over to her, then she says, ‘I need your shirt as a napkin’ or she grabs another girl’s hair and proceeds to wipe her face on the girl’s shirt/hair. The other girls laugh and roll their eyes, but no one really objects. These are just the most egregious behaviors—on top of the dictating where girls can sit (‘get up, I’m saving that seat for X’) or standard insults (‘why are you wearing that shirt, it’s so ugly’), etc. Behind the Alpha’s back a lot of the girls acknowledge how mean these things are, but they give this girl a free pass for several reasons, including the fact that all the boys love her.”

When I read my friend’s email, I was appalled. And shocked. And mad. I guess I thought this kind of stuff only happened in Lindsay Lohan movies. The fact that it’s actually going on kills me. And worries me. Is this the kind of crap I have to look forward to with Nora? WTF?! How would I keep myself from running up to the school and being that mom? My friend has been talking to her daughters about the issue but said no other moms have raised concerns. Here's what she says:

“ I feel like there is a nicey-nice code here; even in the face of terrible behavior, the moms are mum! The New Yorker in me is dying to speak up!! I've tried to express to my girls that it isn’t a privilege to be this girl’s lackey and that I worry that the girls who do her bidding are going to get themselves into a lot of trouble when they are older and going along with what she (or other dominant girls) wants, despite the fact that they know, deep down, it is the wrong thing to be doing. Would love to hear how others moms feel about these demeaning/domineering stunts and how they advise their children to stand up to this type of open aggression.”

I’d love to hear what you guys think about this, too. Am I naïve or is it totally insane and unacceptable? Maybe I'm overreacting, maybe this is a case of "girls being girls" as someone said to my friend. Maybe I need to start preparing myself now. Ugh. What would you do if your child was “friends” with someone like this? Are there mean girls in your kid's school? Is this kind of bullying just a fact of life? What if your kid were the mean girl?! Ack! Let’s discuss!