Long Vu / November 17, 2012 / Women Studies / Sally Winkle / Film Analysis Mean Girls In Mean Girls, the main character is Lindsay Lohan who plays the role of a 15 year old high school student, Cady Heron. Cady is The 15-year-old, Africa-raised high school girl begins her high school life by learning what it’s like to be a normal girl by making friends and talking about other classmates. The first thing the students thought when they heard there was a new transfer student in class from Africa was a black person, so everyone turned to the darkest person in the room, waiting for his introduction, but that wasn’t the case.
Cady (pronounced “Katie”) simply has zoologist parents that love nature and the African culture. Her first two friends are a girl who has been labeled as a lesbian and a guy that is considered gay. From these two friends, Cady learns about a group of pretty girls known as “the plastics” that basically do and get anything they want due to their physical attractiveness. The high school students have been segmented to their own groups such according to their hobbies and characteristics such as jocks and the mathletes.
Cady encounters the Plastics by helping out her 2 friends to find out what has been written about them in a “burn book” which apparently has information on any and everyone at school. A sequence of events lead to Cady conforming to the beauty ideals of the plastics and even begin to take on the role as the “Queen Bee” by leading the girls and controlling everyone to get anything she wants. The image of beauty is represented by the plastics and is shown to have power over everyone that views them as hot and sexy.
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Cady doesn’t understand much about how beauty and power relate until she realizes how the plastics seem to get away with everything by showing a little beauty. Slowly but gradually, Cady adapts to high school life and becomes a person she doesn’t respect. The significance of the male is gaze in Mean Girls is the whole point of the Plastics, because this view has set the man as the standard leader. But to gain power, the girls must show beauty that causes every man, and even every girl to respect their beauty whether it is through torture, abuse, lies, or anything they may wish.
One of the most important reasons for Cady’s transformation and development is due to her lust for a male classmate. This emotion she has causes her to become heartless and dumbfounded, which results in her returning to herself in the end and being happy with respect to everything she has done and that has happened. Mean Girls was quite an enjoyable movie to watch, it felt very realistic with overdramatic scenes of beauty ideals, but still very understandable. The idea of being gay and lesbianis looked down upon and people find it strange to be anything other than heterosexual.
The social norm also had a very realistic feel, since my high school life had its similar moments to Mean Girls. Though, not quite as exaggerated, high school life can be a very rough time for students who have been deemed as strange or different and unacceptable due to their characteristics and preferences. Cady Heron’s development involved her first high school experiences to include what it’s like to be new, become popular and wanted, then be hated and liked for false rumors, and finally returning to herself, a person who she and her parents respect along with the rest of her high school.
When I compare the two films Mean Girls and Real Women Have Curves, I notice how both films share similar ideas about women being viewed by men as objects of beauty. The differences between the two films would have to include the age difference (beginning high school and graduating from high school), racial difference, and cultural difference of where they are living. Both main characters are female and believe they know how to take care of themselves. Mean Girls’ Cady is more about innocence, whereas Real Women Have Curves’ Ana is about the Hipic sweatshop life in a low class neighborhood.
Ana learns and experiences what hard work really is, in comparison to going to school and getting a scholarship to a well known college, while Cady learns what being beautiful can do to a person. Ana and the rest of the women in the film work indoors to make dresses, and cook and perform housework chores, while the men work outside and use heavy equipment all day. When dealing with beauty, both films express beauty ideals as skinny and plastic like shine and smooth skin. The cultural differences between each ilm include how Ana is held by her Hipic heritage and her parents living in the old world, wanting her to be married and successful in life, while staying at home with her family and uncle and cousins. Cady is still new to her civilized high school life and wants to make friends and succeed in school while making her parents happy and being true to herself. The narrative structures are also a bit different, because Mean Girls is from Cady’s perspective, but in Real Women Have Curves, we seem to be viewing what is going on from a third person’s perspective. This leads us to draw out own ideas and conclusions about what is happening.
I feel the male gaze in Real Women Have Curves isn’t quite as dominant as Mean Girls’ male gaze, because the Hipic women seem more independent of their own actions, aside from the mother who is still all about her husband and family, and even having her daughters being married off and creating their own families. When the mother thinks about her older daughter and believes there is no chance for her to be happy in finding a husband and having a child, she places all her efforts in Ana to find a good man and does her best to push Ana into being attractive to men, including how to walk like a woman and look like a women that is beautiful.
Cady is completely infatuated with her male classmate and tries to be closer to him by pretending to be dumb in math and even dressing up in a tight and revealing dress at her house party for him. Unfortunately none of the ideas Cady has come up with seems to work for her, and she realizes she can’t continue to be this kind of person any more, especially when all of her classmates dislike her and her own mother argues that she doesn’t know who her daughter is anymore. The impact of social norms is huge in both films, since this seems like the body and main idea in both films.
Ana breaks the stereotype of Hipics by being smart and having her own ideas about what a women and beauty should be. Being a man’s sexual desires and working for an extremely low wage doesn’t make sense to Ana at all. Education and being successful in one’s goals and dreams is what I feel from Ana. Ana is successful at school and begins a relationship with a Caucasian classmate, her teacher gets her to write about her personal life and acceptance to a leading college with a full ride, tuition paid scholarship, but Ana still remembers what her mother and father wants for her.
Cady Heron is doing her best to adapt to being a ‘normal’ high school girl. Beauty seems to be the leading characteristic to have in every situation and being smart is almost looked down upon from the beauty and popularity perspective. The moment the plastics walk into the cafeteria and sit at their designated table, and have set rules for who may sit and what outfits must be worn throughout the week to be accepted to sit at the table for lunch, Cady begins to feel the difference between being normal and being beautiful.
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