Every high school has them and at North Shore High School they happen to be called The Plastics. “The Plastics sort of dictate the style and behavior, and what’s cool and what’s not, and the do's and the don'ts, and what is right and what is wrong. They dictate the rules of high school which we all must follow to a T. When you think back on high school a group of people probably comes to mind, even if they were not as extreme as The Plastics.
They were the people you knew everything about, even if you had never really spoken to them. These girls can be ruthless, which is evident in Mean Girls, but high school is a time when many people—Plastics included—are still finding their identity and are right in the middle of their coming of age journey. We will break down each member of The Plastics and look at their individual coming of age process.
Regina George is the Queen Bee and “it” girl of North Shore High School. Regina rules the student body with an iron fist and is followed by her minions. She is undoubtedly worshipped by all, which does indeed hurt her coming of age by hindering her growth. She is described by her classmates in a plethora of ways, from “flawless” to “a scum-sucking road whore”. Regina's decisions are driven by hate and competition with other females whether it involves her relationship with friends, family or her on / off boyfriend Aaron Samuels.
Regina’s journey to come of age is an interesting one. Initially, her idea of coming of age is to be feared by all and challenged by none, something she does achieve. However, after the arrival of Cady, everything changes for Regina and the rest of the student body. She has to realize that the world is much bigger than the four walls of North Shore High and that respect trumps fear. By the end of the film, we see a far more humble Regina. She decides to join the Lacrosse team and is surrounded by a group of girls who “weren’t afraid of her”. This is one of Regina’s first real steps towards coming of age. She distances herself from the rest of The Plastics and begins to create a new path for herself in the real world instead of just “girl world”.
Gretchen Wieners is infamous for many reasons. For one, she is the heir to Toaster Strudel, a name she isn't shy to toss around. Secondly, according to Damien Leigh, “her hair is so big [because] it’s full of secrets". Gretchen craves constant approval from her coparts Karen Smith, and above all, Regina George. Although she may have joined The Plastics to escape the wrath of Regina, she only further delves in by becoming a part of her “army of skanks.” She obsesses over Regina with admiration and envy. Even when Cady Heron takes The Plastics throne, Gretchen continues to be a follower. Gretchen can be described as 'by the book.' She follows Plastic rules to a T and doesn’t allow anyone to get away with breaking the rules that she had to live under for three years, especially her frenemy, Regina. After Regina puts on some weight as a part of the art freaks’ plan to bring her down, she is confronted by Gretchen about her outfit violation. “Regina, you’re wearing sweatpants. It’s Monday...”
Gretchen’s membership in The Plastics may be “coming of age” for her, but in reality, fate has a completely different plan. She begins to build a backbone when the fall of Regina’s empire catches wind. While some would say she cracks, others would say she finally began to come of age. However, Gretchen never fully becomes 'clean'. After The Plastics’ break-up, according to Cady, “Gretchen found herself a new clique, and a new queen bee to serve”. Out of all of the members of The Plastics, Gretchen is the most married to the idea of hierarchy and staying close to, but still below the leader.
Karen Smith took on the role of the follower and would go along with whatever Regina George, or anyone, told her to do. Smith is portrayed as somewhat of a ditz and it seems as though she dumbed herself down to fit into the group. Although her mistakes and stupid responses often times result in laughs, there really is not much substance behind her character.
As the movie progresses we start to see Karen begin her coming of age journey. There are a few scenes where we get a small glimpse of her potential intelligence. In the four-way phone scene Gretchen Wieners tells Karen that Regina was gossiping about her and this angers Karen. Thus, she fakes sick to Regina because she no longer wants to hang out with her. Although small, we start to see Karen stand up for herself and start to develop her own identity. At the very end of the movie Karen leaves The Plastics and finds her own niche as the unforgettable weather reporter. This coming of age step breaks her away from her follower status and marks the start of making choices for herself. Karen has definitely not come of age by the end of the movie but we start to see a few very promising steps.
Cady Heron embodies “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Regina George recognizes Cady as a threat and brings her in. Janis Ian on the other hand, identified her as a way to infiltrate The Plastics therefore keeping close to her nemesis Regina. On her first day at North Shore High, Damien Leigh pushes through the crowd with Cady and yells, “watch out please, new meat coming through!” And that is exactly what she is to others: meat. She is constantly being pushed and pulled by the two real mean girls, Janis and Regina. Their conflict is what drives the plot of the film. In the beginning, Cady’s life is about everything but Cady. She is a virgin to American and teen culture. This allows her to be taken advantage of. However, little by little, as she begins to better understand “Girl World”, she starts to figure out her place amidst the chaos.
Cady’s coming of age involves losing herself and becoming a new person. She is never really an Art Freak nor a Plastic. The beauty of this character is that she flutters from one clique to another, puzzling together the pieces that make her who she is at the end of the film. Cady unwantedly becomes a mediator. With the coaching of Regina and Janis, she is given the power to destroy girl world and to rebuild it from the bottom up. In the ending scene of the film, Cady says, “finally, Girl World was at peace”.
Rules in Group
- On Wednesdays, wear pink.
- Can't wear a tank top two days in a row.
- Only wear your hair in a ponytail once a week.
- Only wear jeans or track pants on Fridays.