Hot-Pink Confidence

The meaningful lesson high school clichés can teach us


Artwork by Mina Jung

If you have ever watched a movie aimed at teens, you’ve seen this phenomenon before: a group of pink-clad girls giggling at each other as they walk down the school hallway, the “oohing” and “ahhing” crowd parting before them. Another girl, one separate from the clique, watches them make their grand entrance, and as the story progresses, two paths can be taken: either the outsider becomes the newest member of the high school royalty or their self-righteous nemesis.

Either way, the ruling class is immediately given the label of “mean girls.” In these kinds of productions, the audience is meant to root for the hero and against the mean girls. Once the protagonist gets her Disney, fairy-tale ending, these bullies are completely forgotten.

But what happens when we do give them some thought? Close your eyes, and imagine that these characters actually exist.

We know that in the real world, even ‘mean girls’ have some sort of depth.

These bullies have been subjected to trials as well. The same challenges that have shaped your personality have shaped theirs too. Snow White may have taught little girls to be kind, but she certainly didn’t rule an entire kingdom single-handedly.

So what can we learn from the mean girls?


I can’t think of a single high school movie where this stereotype was portrayed as timid. Mean girls hold their heads up high, strut down the hallway like queens and smirk as their peers practically melt at their feet. Their standards are dictated by no one but themselves, and they are always the number one priority.

Cue the “Mean Girls” cameo.

The Plastics are used to being treated like goddesses and are appalled when someone even thinks that they are not. Yes, this self-assurance does cross over to the arrogant side. But in my mind, these girls simply feel worthy.

Assumptions about women’s’ capabilities are all too common within our society. Even though modern culture is progressing, some people believe women are weak and unable to take charge “like a man.” Men suffer from this lack of confidence too. Society tells them to fit one ideal, and if they don’t, they are considered just as powerless. In the cases of these mean girls, I believe their attitudes are partially a result of trying to disprove this conclusion. In a world that shuns their abilities, these characters must overcompensate to prove they are indeed powerful.

Yet many of today’s teens feel the exact opposite.

According to an article by, seven in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way. Three-quarters of girls with this low self-esteem engage in negative activities like drinking, cutting, bullying, smoking and disordered eating. 

And about 20 percent of all teenagers will experience depression before adulthood.

These statistics are absolutely terrifying. Why is it considered so normal for us to feel so bad?

When I looked at these numbers, my first thought wasn’t to question them. In fact, this spread of self-hatred seemed plausible to me. I know people who joke about how stupid and ugly they are, and yet these comments are never considered anything more than a little self-deprecating. We are encouraged to make fun of ourselves; celebrated when we tell others how much we dislike our very being.

This acceptance scares me the most.

Of course, not every teenager is insecure. There are plenty of confident individuals in our generation, but yet it seems like that number is dwindling day after day. And for good reason too — we live in a world where just being you isn’t enough.

If it were enough, our entire lives would be drastically different. We wouldn’t see billboards declaring that you must buy shapewear to make your body slimmer or TV screens urging you to purchase some product to fix your face. These companies would quickly run out of business because no one would care about trying to make themselves look better. We would be content with who we were, and scoff at the idea of changing our natural selves.

But this society is not our own.

In our society, it’s accepted, and sometimes even expected for us to feel bad about ourselves. It takes less than a scroll’s worth on a model’s Instagram to find comments ranting about how they could never be that beautiful. If we all had just a bit of a mean girl’s confidence, perhaps we’d be living in a better world.

But slow down, don’t apply your bubblegum lipstick so fast! After all, they’re called “mean girls” for a reason.