In the film ‘Mean Girls’ directed by Mark Waters, stereotypes are often shown throughout the film, especially the stereotypes surrounding teenage girls. The stereotypes often show teenage girls to be self-obsessed, manipulative, self-conscious and boy crazy. One of the main characters, Regina George, is the stereotype of every popular girl and this is shown regularly throughout the film. Her appearance, personality and social status all feature the main stereotypes, which surround teenage girls.
Regina George’s appearance often features lots of short, tight, pink (and expensive) clothing as well as jewellery and other expensive accessories. But besides the typical ‘popular girl’ clothing, she also has long blonde hair, which is the usual go-to hair colour of any stereotypical popular girl. She has a tall but skinny frame (also a very typical physical stereotype of any popular teenage girl) and clear, ‘perfect’ skin without any acne in sight. Her two best friends Gretchen and Karen are also very similar in their physical appearances to Regina’s (apart from the fact that Gretchen has brown hair). This is a very obvious stereotype that is used in many other films and TV shows besides Mean Girls, such as the movie ‘High School Musical’ or the TV show ‘Glee’. This makes Regina and her friends come off as being very materialistic as expensive clothing and accessories seem to be the only thing that is okay for them to wear. They have different times in the week to wear different things, like how they can only wear their hair in a ponytail once a week or how on Wednesdays they have to wear pink. Because of how Regina and her friends are represented in this film it only confirms the stereotype of how teenage girls are seen as being materialistic and how it is an overused stereotype that is supposed to describe the behaviour of a teenage girl. In most cases this stereotype is not true, but it can affect teenage girls into thinking that the only way to be “cool” or “popular” is to have nice expensive things and nothing but the best. This means girls may spend more money on clothing and if they are not able to do that, they may become insecure and think that just because they aren’t wearing the newest and most expensive clothing that they aren’t going to be good enough or accepted. This can have a major affect on a teenage girls self-esteem. According to http://www.isacs.org/misc_files/SelfEsteem_Report%20-%20Dove%20Campaign%20for%20Real%20Beauty.pdf around 62% of girls feel “insecure or not sure of themselves”. Although this does not mean that not having the right clothes is making them insecure, on the same site it was also mentioned that “71% of girls with low self-esteem feel their appearance does not measure up, including not feelings pretty enough, thin enough or stylish or trendy enough”. This clearly states that within that 71% of girls, a majority of them will feel insecure purely because they don’t have the right clothes and feel as though this is bringing their overall appearance down. This insecurity has probably been brought on partly because of the media and how teenage girls are represented as being so materialistic and obsessed with their clothing.
Regina’s personality is also the stereotypical ‘popular girl’ personality, which is generally extremely manipulative, boy crazy, self-absorbed and self-conscious she is among many other negative characteristics. We can easily see how manipulative and boy crazy Regina is in the scene at the Halloween party where she tells Cady that she is going to try get Aaron Samuels to like Cady. However she doesn’t do this at all, instead she tricks Aaron into liking her and tells Cady that it wasn’t her fault that Aaron had feelings for her. We can also see how self-absorbed she is as she is often looking at herself in the mirror and perfecting her appearance, but at the same time we can see how self-conscious she is as well, an example of this is when she, Gretchen and Karen are standing in front of a mirror, critiquing their own appearances, we can also see how self-conscious she is when she goes on about how badly she needs to lose weight, although she is already very skinny. All of these characteristics Regina possesses is extremely stereotypical of the popular teenage girl, and is commonly shown in the media. This has a negative affect on teenage girls as when they see someone who is skinny and pretty like Regina looking at herself and saying how she needs to lose weight and how nothing about her appearance is good enough, they may start to do the same thing to themselves and take a negative course of action by trying to lose weight or by trying to make themselves look like societies idea of perfect, but in the process of this they may become more insecure or more unhappy with themselves because just like Regina George, they will always find something to be insecure and unhappy with when it comes to how they look.
The social status of Regina is extremely popular, when we are first introduced to ‘the plastics’, which is Regina and her friend’s, Damien states, “they’re teen royalty” and that “if North Shore was Us Weekly they would always be on the cover”. He also refers to Regina as “The Queen Bee” among much other gossip about Regina and the rest of the plastics. She is known as being the most popular girl at her high school; North Shore High. She is supposedly adored and admired by her pairs, but throughout the film you begin to see that she is not so much admired, but she is more feared by them as her pairs feel threatened by her and know not to get in her way. This is often the representation of the “popular girl” within the media, as they are generally only popular due to people being afraid and intimidated by them and it is not because people actually like them that much. This stereotype can be seen in many Disney films and Disney shows such as the TV show ‘Hannah Montana’ where the two popular girls aren’t really liked by the rest of the school but still have a very powerful status. It can also be seen in the recent Disney film ‘Zapped’ where the popular girl is extremely bossy and mean, and is only ‘liked’ because people are afraid of her. This can affect teenage girls because they might think that the only way to be popular is to be powerful, and is to be mean and intimidating when it comes to socialising with their pairs, this means that teenage girls can change their attitudes completely just so they can be the popular girl like Regina George and this can have a major negative affect on them and the people around them.
Because of the stereotypes used to create the character of Regina George, many teen girls will be affected. They will begin to believe the stereotype and some will even begin to become the stereotype, which could be a major issue. They may begin to dress like Regina George, wearing tight, short clothing and making sure to show a lot of skin, along with making sure their makeup and hair is always perfect like Regina’s. Teenage girls may also be influenced to become more like Regina in their personalities, acting meaner and becoming manipulative to gain more ‘power’ or popularity like how Regina does, or becoming obsessed with the idea of having a boyfriend or having casual hook-ups much like Regina. But things could become even more serious as they could begin to become insecure with their bodies and overall appearance when they see how much Regina and her friend’s reticule themselves on a regular basis. This can have serious affects on young teenage girls as insecurities already play a major role in almost every teenage girls life, whether it’s about their clothing, their body, acne, etc. This can have a major impact on a young girls mental well-being as well as their physical well-being as when they see how Regina and her friends act they may decide that the only way to be popular is to be just like them in every way possible.
The ‘popular girl’ stereotypes are easily seen within the media and are well represented in the film ‘Mean Girls’. It is easily seen that the ‘popular girl’ always possesses the same physical appearance, personality and social status which are usually highly exaggerated within the media due to stereotypes. Because of the stereotypes shown widely across the media, and specifically those shown in the film ‘Mean Girls’ by Regina George and her friends, teenage girls will instantly connect the stereotypes to popularity and may start becoming the stereotype, which can have a major affect on a young person’s life.
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