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The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

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Ryleigh Underwood
Ryleigh Underwood
Editor-in-Chief

I’d Rather Be Me: A Song About Adolescent Girl Culture

The+burn+book%2C+a+major+plot+point+from+the+movie%2C+makes+an+appearance
Sophie Haque
The burn book, a major plot point from the movie, makes an appearance

It was an average Sunday afternoon when I went to see the new Mean Girls movie, wearing pink and expecting a fetch time. However, I left the theater extremely emotionally touched by one song. The song in question was “I’d Rather Be Me,” sung by Auli’i Cravalho’s character, Janis near the end of the musical. “I’d Rather Be Me” was written for the 2019 musical of the same name by Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin. A song about being yourself and not letting others tear you down, it shows how female friendships and “friendship break-ups” are affected by the patriarchy.

Mean Girls follows Cady Heron and her journey to fit in in highschool, starting with befriending the outcasts Janis and Damien to becoming popular and toppling over Queen Bee Regina George and claiming her throne. In return, Regina spreads pages of the “Burn Book,” which is a book of insults of all the girls in their grade. Following this event, all the girls are gathered to apologize for all the mean things they’ve said to other girls, where Janis sings “I’d Rather Be Me,” a song filled with impactful lyrics, my favorite of these are below, along with their analysis.

So your best friend screwed you over 

Acted nice when she not nice 

Well, I have some advice 

‘Cause it’s happened to me, twice 

In this first stanza, Janis clearly defines the struggles of female friendship, including “friendship break-ups” and overall friendship issues which often occur in this age range. Personally, I have gone through two big friendship break-ups. The whole experience is very painful, riddled with feelings of guilt and betrayal. I had to balance the feeling of wishing I could have done more to prevent the split along with knowing that it was the right thing to do.

If I eat alone from this moment on 

That’s just what I’ll do 

‘Cause I’d rather be me 

I’d rather be me 

I’d rather be me than be with you 

Referencing the tug and pull between individuality and peer pressure, the lyrics state that it’s more important to be true to oneself than to be popular. It talks about sitting alone, something that can seem incredibly embarrassing and lonely in high school but ultimately is worth it to retain your self worth.

We’re supposed to all be ladies 

And be nurturing and care 

Is that really fair? 

Boys get to fight, we have to share 

Here’s the way that that turns out 

We always understand 

How to slap someone down with our underhand 

So here’s my right finger 

To how girls should behave 

This is my favorite message from the song. The lyrics explain the double standard between boys and girls, that girls shouldn’t be violent but that it’s ok for boys to be so and get into physical fights. These gender roles are perpetrated by the patriarchy, claiming that women should be docile and peaceful. Because women don’t have the freedom to lash out, they instead “slap someone down underhand.” From my experience, if boys are being mean to you, they’ll insult you right to your face. However, girls will try to turn your friends against you and will spread rumors about you behind your back. The expectations set for girls, the lyrics state, are mindless and should be disregarded.

‘Cause sometimes what’s meant to break you 

Makes you brave 

This is my favorite lyric from the song. It’s so powerful and reassuring to hear that the things that could have broken someone have just made them stronger. This lyric means so much to me because of its message. Like everyone, I’ve gone through things that could have broken me and have struggled with my mental health. Even though people might feel as if they left the experience weaker, they’ll realize that they left it stronger and braver because they pushed through and survived it.

And those sycophants who follow you 

I’ll remember all their names 

And when they drag you down 

Like they inevitably do 

I will not laugh along them 

And approve their palace coup 

‘Cause that’s not me

Discussing the unstable nature of being “queen bee,” these lyrics, some more of my favorite from the song, show the harmful aspects of social hierarchies. In the book “Queen Bees & Wannabes,” the inspiration for the Mean Girls movie and musical, the author, Rosalind Wiseman states, “Cliques are sophisticated, complex, and multilayered, and every girl has a role within them. However, positions in cliques aren’t static… a girl can lose her position to another girl, and she can move up and down the social totem pole.” The lyrics and quote show how girls’ social hierarchies work and how one’s position can be disrupted, sometimes extremely such as in a “coup.” Both the lyrics and book mention how this can be very damaging for girls’ mental health and how these cliques often do more harm than good.

This is one of my favorite songs due to its powerful message of being true to oneself and not letting others tear you down. It also talks about the importance of not stooping down to others’ level and the double standard between girls and boys when having a disagreement. It’s a song that makes you feel empowered: sometimes what’s meant to break you, makes you brave.

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About the Contributor
Sophie Haque, Staff Writer
Sophie is a freshman at CHS who is excited to be part of the Periscope staff. She loves writing, which is why she joined Journalism, and is looking forward to writing articles. In her free time she enjoys reading and singing along to Taylor Swift and musical theater. In CHS she participates in quizbowl, academic decathlon, and is part of the Shakespeare troupe.
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