Oh… girls. Why are we so complicated? I mean, I definitely don’t understand boys. But I definitely don’t understand girls… and I am a girl. Sheesh!
Yesterday, I was working in my favorite cafe when one of my favorite little city girls came in. School kids always swarm the place around 3, but this girl is special. She’s tiny (really tiny compared to her friends), but the biggest personality. You can’t help by look up when she waltzes into the cafe every afternoon. She’s precociously charismatic. She charms everyone over, is an amazing leader of her friends, and really just lights up the room. (One day she asked the owner, who is super nice himself, for a cappuccino. He gave her a skeptical look and she leaned in and fake-whispered, “It’s okay, my parents are Italian; I’m allowed to drink espresso.”)
If anyone has been so lucky to get stuck in a group of NYC schoolchildren, you will know… It’s not fun. It can be scary even– especially when footballs and scooters are involved… which is always. She is probably the exception to the rule. Sweet and nice and polite, but still spunky.
When she walked in today though, she was crying. Sobbing and her friends were trying as they could to console her. (That is, they did what anyone would do: they bought her cookies. Smart girls, very very very smart girls.) She must have sat there for about thirty minutes, occasionally perking up to her usual self. Then… she took a phone call with what I could only imagine was a girl in her grade. 
My heart broke for her as she told her friend that she wasn’t being very nice… as the tears fell down her face.
How many times, I thought, had I been there? Especially in middle school. When everything seems confusing. I mean, gosh, your own body is seemingly betraying you. And it’s when girls seem to start breaking off into serious cliques, most often based on superficial factors. Honestly, I saw my own eleven year old self in her yesterday afternoon and I wished I could have given her a hug.
The tears rolled down steadily and she finally turned to her friend and just said, “I want to go home.”
I definitely crossed a little bit of a line and called her over and told her everything that I wish someone had told me as eleven year old. That she was wonderful and that this little event hurts now and won’t hurt later. What she will feel later is remembering her sweet friends and their cookies, popping in and out of cafes after school, her cafe-owner friend who gives her cappuccinos with 99% milk/1% espresso. I wanted to remind her that her spirit was larger than life and that she shouldn’t let a mean girl shadow that.

Spot the sixth grade prepster…
… the saddest part? I gave someone my age the same pep talk this weekend as she cried in the back of a cab. Heck, I’ve been feeling like that insecure, confused eleven year old myself. With drama and mean girls and social pressure. And it’s not coming from the boys; it’s from the girls!
Maybe everything was extra highlighted this week with NYFW, but the cattiness was out in full swing. It was, eye opening and saddening to say the least. Insecurities and competitiveness created this awkward and tense situation. I was feeling the pressure, even though I tried so hard to not let it get to me. Luckily, I do have amazing friends who support me and let me call them crying (even they don’t really want to hear about it, they still let me talk!).
Sometimes we’re not very nice to each other– to ourselves. Sometimes that little eleven year old inside of all us comes out. The insecure girl, sometimes the mean girl. Girls, oh, girls. I don’t really know how to solve the problem, I mean… at all… but I think remembering that we’re all that eleven year old girl and thinking of ourselves in sixth grade and how vulnerable those little hearts are.
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Alexandra Aimee

How sweet of you to not just observe this girl suffering, but actually step outside your comfort zone and provide her with wisdom!

I wish I could say it gets better soon, but for me it didn't really pass until grad school! Then, finally, the girls I knew seemed to look the male dominated academia system square on and realize we needed to stick together. Or, perhaps at that point I just finally learned how to pick good girls!

— Alex at Brainy Girls Beauty

Charlotte E

This was a really interesting post to read! I mostly liked it because it is incredibly relatable. Since I'm in my last year of school I defiantly still get puzzled by the inner workings of girls.

Charlotte from|


Carly this is so true! We are so confusing, and at times we seem to live by the quote "you are your own enemy". What I try to do when I feel this way/get catty is take a step back and think about the other person, what they are going through, and that I'm sure me getting a little upset with them isn't the best solution. It is so hard for all of us to do though!

Prep on a Budget

Seersucker Sass

Carly, this post really hit home for me! How sweet of you to console the little girl. It probably means more to her than you know 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week. Thanks for your always honest posts!

XX, SS ||

Courtney Elizabeth

Oh, thank you so much for sharing. It's so easy to forget that we're not the only ones that live(d) in our own little bubbles of self-doubt and angst, that every girl goes through this. And I'm so glad you went out of your way to talk to that girl. xo

Alyssa Denison

I love this post, I secretly feel like that eleven year old all the time and it's nice to know I'm not the only one out there.
It was so sweet of you to talk to and reassure that little girl, I wish someone had given me the same talk when I was in middle school.

Michelle Fares

Hi Carly, I'm a longtime reader (and a fellow Hoya – I graduated in 20101 🙂 but I don't think I've ever commented before. I just wanted to say how much I LOVE and appreciate this post. As a 26-year-old, my female friendships are just as complicated and confusing (but also amazing and fulfilling) as they were when I was 11…or 16…or 21. And when I look at my mom and my aunt, I'm seeing them face the same issues in their 50s.

Sadly, I think some women never grow up from that "mean girl" in the fourth grade. But I also know that I have had friends for literally 10 years, and they will always be in my life. I think when 11-year-old friend (and the friend who's your age, and you!) can focus on those people and really really feel their value, the "mean girls" won't hurt so much any more.

Just my two cents 🙂 I'm loving the blog, I read it every day!


I don't think you crossed a line by calling her over! I would have done the same. It's one thing for your mom to tell you it's ok and to ignore it, but it's another to hear it from a pretty 24 year old who is "all grown up".

I completely agree that the mean girl phenomenon doesn't end in middle school, high school or beyond. I'm just grateful to have friends and a boyfriend to listen when I'm upset and remind me that the girls in the bar or on a blog aren't as glossy as they seem and aren't better people for putting me down.

Kelli Roscoe

I love this post. It's exactly what I needed to hear. I really hadn't expected the mean girl attitude and persona to be found in the workplace but it is definitely alive and well. But, like you said it's the girlfriends that remind us who we are and that it's not the end of the world. Thank you for posting this! I really appreciate the positive community that your blog and others like it have made.


I was just thinking yesterday about how all girls, even the nicest ones, can be mean sometimes. I think it happens sometimes even without us knowing that we are being mean. It's like the way we think! But this post was so good to remind us that we still have that little heart and it can break when someone is not being very nice to us.


This is a really wonderful post and everything is so true. Also, I really loved this line — it made me laugh: "Especially in middle school. When everything seems confusing. I mean, gosh, your own body is seemingly betraying you. "


Girls can be so mean to each other; no matter what the age. I think it was very kind of you to tell her those things. That's something hopefully she will take to heart and remember when she's feeling down. This is one of the reasons I think the Kind Campaign is such a great cause.

Alexandra Steinmetz

Well said! There is such an innate cattiness and competition between females, which doesn't do us any favors and it starts at SUCH a young age. I actually rewatched the documentary Miss Representation this weekend and was reminded how important it is to support one another and build each other up!


I love this post! Getting ready to graduate college this year, I've been seeing so much pettiness and cattiness in my sorority and it really starts to hurt and get under your skin, even at 21. I recently came across a great quote on Pinterest " I used to walk into a room wondering if anyone liked me, now I walk into the room wondering if I like any of them." I think it's been a great reminder to cultivate strong, supportive and encouraging friendships with people you want to spend time with, rather than draining, superficial friends.

For what it's worth, I don't think you crossed a line either. I would have loved for someone to have done that for me when I was in middle school. 😉

Krystal M

Girls can be so mean sometimes. We all hope girls will grow out of it when they become adults but even grown women can be mean. It's sad. I think girls and women should learn to stick together and support each other instead of picking on one another.



I don't usually read your blog, but I'm glad I dropped by today. I've been there–personally, with my daughter, and probably will be with my granddaughter. You were a blessing to that girl. She'll never forget you. Sadly there are mean girls. There are even mean girls with gray hair, I'm sorry to say.

Mana Smith

There are mean girls everywhere, and even if we didn't mean too we've probably all been someones mean girl once in our lives.
You gave that little girl some really good advice and you were probably the best person next to her mother to tell her. You're a successful, well put together woman who the little girl probably often sees working or with friends if that's one of your favorite cafes.
I can only hope she remembers your words better than she remembers that mean girl.

Corinne Walker

Carly I'm new to this blogging caper but you give me hope that it's not only the realm of the elite few. Your blog always inspires me and often helps me feel less alone, as I too struggle with similar feelings to yours. I only hope I continue to be the TRUTH in my blog as you are in yours! There is more to blogging and life then what pretty outfit we have on today 🙂 Your leading the way xx


What a beautifully heart breaking post. I saw your tweet about this yesterday but didn't make the connection that she was a tween. Girls can be so awful (I didn't grow up with a lot of friends that were girls) at any age. I'm so thankful you were there to console her. I know if my little sister were having a hard day, I'd want someone like you to pull her aside to remind her how truly special she is. Blowing out someone else's light doesn't make yours shine any brighter.

Kate Mitchell

I understand entirely. I'm a 9th grade teacher, and I can't even begin the number of times I've had 14 year old girls crying in my classroom. Things have been VERY dramatic this week with Valentine's Day and all. I pulled one girl aside at one point and talked about the effect of girls calling other girls hoes and bitches. It breaks my heart how mean girls can be to other girls.


You, my dear, were lucky to be surrounded by such good "girl" friends when you were younger! I remember many of those adorable faces. You will find that the best thing to have in life are all those layers of friends (I call them). Each layer of life you add a few that cross your path. Still a core will remain as your close ones. As I approached the 50's club last year, I sat and reflected on all those that are part of my life. Thankful for them all (the mean ones disappear over time!)

Katie McC

I think everyone can relate, and if they can't then their not human! My poor little niece whos 13 is going through this same thing and it's so heartbreaking. She sobbed and sobbed and sobbed on Friday from mean friend drama. I tried my best to comfort her and told her stores of when people were mean to me and that she will outgrow it and to not let it bother her. Of course, us being girls its easier said than done and although I want to tell her it does get better (which it does), we still have that 11 year old girl hidden inside of us. And sometimes it's just easier if we cry and let it all go.


Well said. It is so true. There are so many girls that get pleasure of seeing someone suffer and in pain. It's not a cute look but they are out there. Very great choice of words. Hope she is doing fine! Thanks for sharing your story from

Jillian Manesh

ugh. mean girls are the worst. and it's really disappointing that some of them never grow out of it! i think it was really sweet of you to talk to that girl and reassure her that she WILL be okay. im sure she is very thankful for that 🙂 you're one of the nice girls (and that will always be in style). xo jilian


I totally agree Carly. You are very insightful. Girls can be absolute cows to each other. That is so lovely and kind of you to call her over and say that. I wish someone had said that to me when I was younger too. High school was hell-ish for me and it left me with a lot of scars and self esteem problems. I went to an all girls catholic school but there was nothing Christian about it LOL. Even in the work force, some girls still remind me of those 8th grade cliques, full of cattiness, pettiness and superficial judgement. The great thing thought, is now as an adult I have choice whether to put up with it. I don't and I won't now. I totally agree with you though, it takes time and age to realise that the opinions we should only take on board are those of people we respect and trust. I feel sorry for younger people today who now have to compete on social media and facebook provides another potential forum for competiveness and showing off. Hence why I spend my time mainly on blogs, like yours – where I can read posts from people I can relate to and respect. Keep up the good work 🙂

Melissa Mooney

This is so true. Girls can be so mean to each other. I see it in my sisters friends and it makes me sad. I remember how hard middle school was and how i would rather just block it out. This is just what i needed to hear, if not for the main reason i could be a little easier on my sister.

understated grace

Yet again, you hit the nail right on the head. As women, we should be each other's biggest advocates. We need to stick together out there! It is so sad that we see this catty behavior at such a young age. The best we can do is stay positive, advocate for each other, and keep our chins up! Eventually, I have to believe that nice girls come out on top.