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Sociological Film Reflection

“Sorry we only carry sizes 1, 3, and 5. You could try Sears.” Is there a certain body type and size that every girl wants to be? From this quote from the film it exemplifies this idea that all women should have certain standards and all be a particular body size. I watched the movie Mean Girls, from the title and the quote you can automatically assume that it is about groups of girls judging one another, being disrespectful towards each other and having to live up to expectations for being a girl. Emphasized feminity takes place all throughout the movie. This film is all about the stereotypes, gender roles and what society expects from a female. Gender roles are a major issue in the film as they demonstrate certain ways that a girl should dress, look, act and treat others. The movie demonstrates stereotypes of a girl and how society assumes that a girl should come off to others. Girls are rude to one another as they are all trying to live up to the same expectations from society. The movie relates perfectly to Stephen Hinshaw’s novel The Triple Bind. The film Mean Girls proves that society is corrupting women, and these expectations that society holds for women are very difficult for one to attain, causing girls to be heartless towards one another and judging each other in ill-mannered ways.

Gender roles are characteristics and behaviors that different cultures attribute to the sexes and society expects us to act upon these roles. There are certain ways of becoming a woman relating to society and constructing oneself. In the movie Mean Girls all the girls at Northshore High School feel as if they need to follow certain gender roles so they are treated with respect and looked as a women by her characteristics and personality. “The Plastics”: Regina, Gretchen and Karen also known as the popular girls at school all attempt to live up to societies expectations and accommodate all the characteristics that a girl should have. However, it is impossible to accomplish every aspect that a women is perceived to be. When a new girl Cady comes to school she doesn’t dress, look, or act like all the other girls. She went against what the community at Northshore High School was used to seeing. When Regina George first met Cady she said, “Your bracelet is really pretty where did you get it? I love it!” However, as the movie continues we realize that she didn’t actually mean that and was lying about loving it. This establishes the main dilemma in the film, girls not being respectful to one another and being very hypocritical.

“Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen! It’s not going to happen!” Regina George says this to Gretchen Weiners; she says this because Gretchen tries to say, “fetch” a word that no one uses. Since Regina is the leader of the trio and since no one knows what “fetch” is she doesn’t allow her to say it. This proves that girls are following what society expects and not breaking out of their norms. There is nothing wrong with starting new styles, or being different that the rest of the girls around you. Be yourself, and at times that may mean being different than everyone else.

Stephen Hinshaw’s novel, The Triple Bind perfectly relates to this film. The triple bind is a set of impossible expectations that society expects for girls to attain. It states that girls should be good at the traditional “girl stuff”, the majority of “boy stuff” and should obey and not object these standards that are set by society. “I can’t go to Taco Bell! I’m on an all carb diet! God Karen you are so stupid!” Karen asked Regina to go to Taco Bell, but since society expects women to be good at all the “girl stuff” which means having this perfect body causes girls to watch what they eat and go on diets. “A 2006 survey of 935 twelve-to seven-teen-year-olds across the nation revealed that 38 percent of girls who go online say they’ve been bullied, compared to 26 percent of boys.” (Hinshaw 2009: 134) Girls are bullied daily over the Internet for multiple reasons. Society expecting women to have perfect bodies can cause girls to have eating disorders, or get judged because of what their outside may look like.

“So to a girls long list of duties-studying, sports, extracurricular, family responsibilities-add the very real work that goes into looking good: shopping and wardrobe maintenance, shaving or waxing, manicures and keeping one’s hair styled and applying make up so skillfully that it looks ‘natural.’”(Hinshaw 2009: 21) This is what girls in the movie had to do to be able to fit in and not get negatively judged by others. However, this triple bind that girls are expected to follow are “impossible, contradictory expectations”(Hinshaw 2009: 7). The only way that a girl could follow all these assumptions for women is if they lost something that is needed like sleep, or a healthy diet. “She knew it was better to be in the plastics hating life than to not be in at all. Because being with the plastics was like being famous.” This quote from the film illustrates that girls will literally change their lives to be able to be a part of this clique even if they are not treated with respect and have to follow strict, pointless rules.

These girls in the movie are all trying to find a way to get approval in this group called “The Plastics.” To get acceptance into this group they must follow strict gender roles entitling how to dress, look, act and even talk as they believe women should. All of these girls in this movie are doing everything they can to try to get approval, because they all find these girls to be so amazing. Cady the new girl, has been home schooled her whole life and is from Africa. “The Plastics” saw potential in Cady and thought that she could work up to fitting in with them. “On Wednesday’s we wear pink.” This is what they told Cady when they first invited her to have lunch with them. This exemplifies that not only do they act according to what society expects, but also this group of girls has specific guidelines on what to wear each day and what you aren’t allowed to wear. “Regina your wearing sweatpants. It’s Monday. So that’s against the rules, you can’t sit with us.” This quote demonstrates that they have strict policies that you need to follow and can’t break if you want to be accepted by them. This connects to gender stereotypes, which consists of beliefs about the psychological traits, characteristics and activities appropriate to women.

All the girls at Northshore high school are trying to get the “Plastics” attention no matter what they may have to do. “One time she punched me in the face. It was awesome!” This quote from the film is said by a random girl talking about Regina George, this is the amount of infatuation that people in the movie have for her. Even if she punches one in the face they find it thrilling because Regina acknowledged them in someway. “You can’t join Mathletes! It’s social suicide!” Cady was smart enough to be on the high schools Mathletes team, but she didn’t accept their offer the first time they asked her to be on it, because the “Plastics” thought she shouldn’t do it. She rather be in the clique than be part of something that will get her farther in life. This demonstrates all the opportunities people let go and what they will go through to be a part or even simply get acknowledged by this circle of girls.

The movie Mean Girls produced by Paramount Pictures demonstrates how a clique of girls can manipulate a whole school of girls to act, dress, and talk in certain ways. The film exemplified gender roles, and stereotypes for how women should act according to society. The movie demonstrates that society makes girls assume that they have to follow the impossible triple bind guidelines, which are believed to be a necessity by many females. In conclusion, Mean Girls confirms that society is corrupting women to assume that they all need to act in a certain way to be accepted by the people in their surroundings.

References

Hinshaw, Stephen. 2009. The Triple Bind. New York, USA: Ballantine Books.

Mean Girl. Dir. Mark Waters. Prod. Lorne Michaels. Perf. Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tina Fey, and Amanda Seyfried. Paramount Pictures, 2004. DVD.


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