A Social Commmentary: Mean Girls and Obesity

The following quote is a statement made by protagonist Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) upon first getting initiated as a Plastic, the most exclusive clique at her new high school.  The way the Plastics feel about their bodies’ exemplifies the way real women feel about their bodies. The movie Mean Girls is the perfect movie for discussing weight (body) issues faced by women.

The group’s name, the Plastics is a reference to a Barbie Doll; similarly to a Barbie doll the Plastics derive their popularity from material possessions like their fit bodies, fancy clothes, posh lifestyle, and perfectly tasseled hair. For the majority of the movie the Plastics along with all the other girls in the movie are objectified and judged primarily on their looks.  Seemingly, the result of all this objectification is the struggle for the girls to maintain an exterior superficiality.

Naturally, Janis and Damien the archrivals of the Plastics (also referred to as the Outcasts) deem that the best way to dethrone the Queen Plastic, Regina George is to take away her three rites to power, the most important of them being her “hot body”. They convince Cady to infiltrate the Plastics to enact their plan. Then the perfect opportunity to sabotage Regina’s “perfect” body arises when she mentions to Cady that she wants to lose a little weight for the upcoming Spring Fling Dance. The first thing Damien and Janis have Cady do is give Regina facial cream that is actually foot cream, next they cut slits in Regina’s clothes, and finally the worst of all they trick Regina into eating Kalteen bars (nutrition bars that cause weight gain).  Simultaneously, Regina takes her own precautions to lose weight.  She goes on a poorly conceived diet attempting to separate deemed good food like fruit cocktail cranberry juice (known to be high in sugar as stated by Aaron Samuels), butter (high fat), and white bread (full of carbs) from bad food.

When going shopping for dresses at the mall Regina fails to fit into a size six dress, and is told by the clerk to go to Sears where all the bigger women go shopping. Then a couple of days later fellow Plastics Karen Smith and Gretchen Wieners exile Regina from sitting with them at lunch upon observing Regina repeatedly wearing sweat pants, we she says is due all her other clothes not fitting.  We even see at one point Regina ironically being told, “watch it fatty” after bumping into a bigger girl, the cafeteria immediately erupts into laughter.  Reference the video below to see Regina getting told off by Karen and Gretchen.

As Regina begins to gain weight we see her reigns of control over the school slowly deteriorate.  Seemingly as Regina gains weight she is ostracized by her peers and paid less attention to. Also, as Regina fails horribly at dieting she is made to feel guilty by her peers for her lack of self-discipline (especially by Karen and Gretchen) and society (other classmates and store clerk). Even though the reason for Regina’s weight gain is partially due to sabotage, the diet she self-prescribed is also partially responsible for her weight gain.  The truth is even if her diet was not sabotaged it would have failed anyway. According to T. Mann’s Medicare’s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer scientific article,

“…meta-analysis of 14 long-term weight loss studies posited that not only   does dieting fail as a weight loss strategy, the majority of people who diet regain the lost weight plus more. Further, repeated weight cycling may lead to increase the risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart attack.” (220-233)

To reiterate dieting does not work and Regina George did not stand a chance. This all mirrors what happens to women in real life.  We can easily blame the Plastics and real-life girls like them who exhibit such narcissistic behavior, however we must take a step back to examine the reasons they are exerting such behavior.  The Plastics have unrealistic expectations coerced upon them by society, which causes them internalize self-consciousness about their bodies.  Again biopower and governmentality hard at work, need I say more!

Obviously, I have seen this movie too many times.  But it’s just that good. It’s just one of those movies that is just as funny as the first time I watched it.  The humor in this movie lies in the fact that it holds so true to real life situations in high school. To get to the take away message we must be careful how we carelessly thrust judgment upon people who are considered overweight and obese by society.  Though Regina George is by no means considered overweight or obese it is clear that people women who are actually overweight and obese goes through ostracism on intensified scale compared to what Regina faced. Moreover, we must remember there are various reasons a person may be overweight: genetics, disorder, food availability, or just plain preference.  There are a lot of misconceptions out there about obesity, not much is known. Our current means of diagnosing obesity is partially flawed and is based on cut and dry system the BMI (body mass index); which if you ask me is pritty-flawed method of diagnosis, but that’s a conversation for another blog.

If you want to hear more you can follow me on Twitter at DemelioU or subscribe to my RSS feed (orange button) in the menu on the left

Demelio U.

Signing OFF

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18 responses to “A Social Commmentary: Mean Girls and Obesity

  1. It is not often that an editorial captures my attention like this one did. I was inquisitive about this info from the start. This is a terribly smart informative article with valid viewpoints.

  2. I just re-watched this film for the billionth time, and what always really hits hard is Regina’s body when she is gaining weight – I can never help but wonder in what universe she would have been considered overweight! But I suppose that just further makes the point that “Girl World” scrutinizes and polices bodies so much that lean bodies like Regina’s are considered fat.

    • yea precisely when i use to run track for the state the coach for the girls team would try to put the girls on strict diets…a lot of the girls developed eating disorders, even though they were already skinny because they had to maintain a certain weight to be considered a competitive long-distance runner

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