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What happens when mean girls grow up?

'Queen bee' behavior doesn't fly after high school. So what becomes of mean girls and their victims?

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By Laura Sessions Stepp
Sunday, February 20, 2011

Monika Shreves, a college senior with a petite frame and long, black hair, remembers the first mean girl she met. The girl lived in Shreves's Northern Virginia neighborhood and had the blondest hair and eyelashes Shreves had ever seen.

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The two arrived together at Girl Scout camp, and the girl assumed command of the cabin they were to sleep in.

"This is the cool cabin," she told the other girls who wandered into the campsite, looking for a place to throw down their stuff. She'd size up each girl. "You can come in," she'd tell one. "You cannot," she'd tell another.

Shreves and her friends started referring to the girl privately as "the devil child." That same year, Shreves's mom, Christine, was driving Shreves, the blond girl and another girl home from school. All three were in the back seat of the car.

As the car swung into their neighborhood, the blond girl turned to the other girl and asked, "Who would you rather go home with? Me or Monika?"

"You," the other girl said.

Shreves burst into tears.

Later, in college, Shreves was scanning her Facebook page, and the same girl popped up, asking to friend her. Shreves, quite surprised, accepted. A short while later, she wished Shreves "Happy birthday" on Shreves's Facebook wall.

"She was perfectly nice," Shreves recalls over a Caribou coffee in Fairfax.

***

Imagine that Lindsay Lohan's generation of girls has grown up into decent human beings. You'd never know this by watching TV or surfing the countless Web sites where mean is queen. Having exhausted the high school mean girl phenomenon that took off in the 2004 movie with Lohan's Cady Heron, the entertainment and media industries have moved on to mean women.

We laugh at Kim and Phaedra sparring on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" and forward the snarkiest blog posts on Jezebel to all our friends. We buy Kelly Valen's recent book, "The Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships," and nod in recognition at her examples of women suffering at the hands of other women.


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