'Mean Girls', directed by Mark Waters is a movie about a girl named Cady Heron who is the 'new girl' at an American public school. As she has always been home schooled up until that point as her parents are zoologists and have been doing research in Africa for 12 years, her aim is to just fit in. The movie definitely focuses on the variety of cliques within the school Cady attends, and especially on a clique of teenage girls know as 'The Plastics'. We are shown that The Plastics are made up of three girls, Karen Smith, Gretchen Wieners and Regina George. Karen, played by Amanda Seyfred, is the 'dumb blonde' who often is pretty, wears a lot of pink, but then says things that relate back to her as being 'pretty but dumb'. Gretchen, played by Lacey Chabert, is the 'gossiper' and is seen as Ragina's most devoted follower. Ragina is definitely seen as the ringleader as she controls everyone by social aggression and by having Karen and Gretchen as her 'little workers' to do her bidding for her, to make sure she stays at the top of the social ladder.
Cady at first becomes friends with Janis and Damien, who are seen as 'The Art Freaks'. Also they happen to be 'arch-enemies' of The Plastics, but once The Plastics take interest in Cady, they decide that Cady would be the prefect opportunity to be able to bring down the plastics. Although eventually, Cady gets so caught up in being and hanging out with the plastics that she ends up becoming one and says harsh, untruthful things about people and teachers within the school in a thing called the burn book. Eventually the 'Burn book' gets released and everything for Cady falls downhill. Soon though, she ends up realising that all she needs to do is be herself instead of acting and pretending to be someone she is not.
How the representation of teenage girls of within this movie actually affects teenage girls within society, is in many different ways.
The negative affects it has on teenage girls mostly has to do with how the teenage girls within the movie have all been stereotyped and portrayed, especially 'The Plastics'. Why this is, is because 'The plastics' have been shown that they are at the top of the social ladder due to the fact they are pretty, thin, appeal the male gender with what they wear and how they act, are shallow and are also socially aggressive. These representations of a 'mean girl' could lead to teenage girls thinking that in order to be popular or 'adored' by all their peers you need to look and act just like the 'The Plastics'. This not only gives the wrong idea as to how you should act socially, but also gives unrealistic ideas.
Another reoccurring theme in relation to 'The Plastics' and particularly Regina, is to do with weight. When we are introduced to Regina in the movie, we are also introduced to how she only eats foods that are "30 calories or less" as she is wanting to loose "3 pounds" even though she is already thin. The fact that 78% of teenage girls actually suffer from self conscious issues, and another 15% deal with eating disorders, this representation most definitely has a negative affect on teenage girls. The theme and idea within this representation is saying that for the character Regina, she 'needs' her 'hot bod' in order to keep her social status, so if she were to loose that factor, she would also loose her popularity. This then goes on to give the message to teenage girls that in order to gain attention and be considered 'hot' you need to make sure you have the 'perfect body', and by doing that you need to watch exactly what you eat and how much you eat. This theme also leads to a negative affect especially on teenage girls who believe that if Regina thinks she still needs to 'work on her body and looks' then they definitely do as they feel that they aren't pretty because they may not be as thin or flawless as the character Regina, when in reality Regina is only 'flawless' because the actress who plays her has a lot of make up on and was not 16 but instead was about 25-26 years old.
Some positive affects that come out from this movie to do with representation of teenage girls are more in relation to the other types of cliques shown within the movie, and the ending of the movie also. Why the other cliques being shown may have positive affects on teenage girls is due to the fact that they show how everyone is different. Yet this also can be negative, as these people who are different in their own ways, are still stereotyped in a specific way. For example, there is a clique shown in 'Mean Girls' that are the 'Art Freaks', so they have been stereotyped to all be slightly 'weird' and wear clothes that aren't seen as normal and to also be 'obsessed' with art, when in reality a group/clique similar to the 'Art Freaks' wouldn't necessarily have everyone all wearing the same crazy, outgoing clothes. In reality, people within groups may have stuff in common, which is what the movie is representing, yet they are still individuals who are different to each other.
Why the ending of 'Mean Girls' can have positive affects is because this is when Cady realises she doesn't need to act like someone she isn't and should instead just be herself. 'The Plastics' also find other groups to join in and no longer care about being at the top of the social ladder. We are then shown that Cady and her friends end up creating or being in a group that isn't seen as a clique and isn't stereotyped as it is made up of a range of different people, which positively affects teenage girls by giving a positive message which is showing that you don't have to shape yourself to be a certain person to fit in, but instead just be yourself.
How teenage girls have been represented in 'Mean girls' definitely contributes and affects to how society perceives teenage girls. As the movie 'Mean Girls' has shown a variety of different stereotypes, particularly in relation to teenage girls, this supposedly gives an idea to society of how girls act and behave. This may mean that many people might have negative attitudes towards teenage girls, or perhaps just teenage girls that are popular as they might link that to them being and acting like 'The Plastics'. Although another affect these representations have on society is a positive one. The positive effect is that studies have shown that people who enjoy this genre of movie are actually less likely to be influenced by what is being represented.
What this movie has done, is taken stereotypes and used them represent the characters and to also provide entertainment for the viewers. They have used stereotypes to make sure the viewers understand each character clearly, by portraying them in these certain ways. These stereotypes are not only there for viewers entertainment, but also so the messages which are within the movie 'Mean Girls' can get across to the audience. How they do this is by using the stereotypes to make sure the audience and viewers have a set idea on what the characters are like and how they are to behave, yet at the end after the 'climax' within the movie, the viewers get shown how actually these girls who are being represented through stereotypes, aren't completely who you think they are as it turns out there is more to them to what they initially believed. This message is then telling the viewers that actually, people aren't actually easily categorised and everyone is individually unique.
Overall, how these representations of teenage girls from the movie 'Mean Girls' affects teenage girls and society's view of teenage girls is a range of positive and negative affects. The messages and values that this movie shows also has affects, especially on teenage girls.