It’s okay to admit it: We’re all a little obsessed with Mean Girls, the movie. It’s become a staple in our pop culture, and all of the lines are so quotable in everyday life. When Gretchen Weiners passionately utters, “You can’t sit with us!” at the lunch table? Hilarious!
Real life, however, is not so fetch for 22 percent of students aged 12-18 who reported being bullied during the 2012-2013 school year. Of those students, 18 percent of girls reported being bullied at least 2-3 times a month or more. While both girls and boys are obviously susceptible to being bullied, girls are more likely to experience verbal bullying, rumor-spreading, exclusion, and cyberbullying. Overall, they tend to experience relational bullying, which is a type of aggression that harms a person’s social status, reputation, or relationship within a group of friends and doesn’t necessarily include physical violence.
The chance of finding a high school with girls pulling each other’s hair over a Burn Book is pretty much non-existent, but the core drama of Mean Girls is an upsetting reality for many school-aged girls today. Luckily, there’s a non-profit organization out there who cares and works every day to turn this reality upside down. The Kind Campaign has made it their mission to bring awareness and healing to the negative effects of girl-on-girl bullying through educational curriculum, school assemblies, and the documentary film Finding Kind.
Driven by their own experiences with being bullied in school, best friends Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson joined forces to start the organization in 2009. Lauren and Molly have toured about 370 schools themselves since the campaign launched, and about 1000 other schools and communities have held their own Kind Campaign assemblies since September 2010. During and after these assemblies, 2 out of 3 girls actually apologized to another girl. Think of that scene in Mean Girls where Damian yells out, “She doesn’t even go here!” but kinder – and for real!
Going back to Mean Girls, Kind Campaign has even played off that infamous “You can’t sit with us!” line by marketing products that state the friendly opposite: “You CAN sit with us.” In the fall of 2015, to coincide with the 10-year anniversary release of Mean Girls, Kind Campaign teamed up with Omaze to sell “You Can Sit With Us” shirts to support their free school programming.
“It was cool to see people flipping that negative message into a positive and inclusive one,” Molly told us in a phone chat. “It is just a simple message that resonates really well with people: girlfriends at school, people sitting alone at lunch, moms in the neighborhood, girls in the workplace.”
The shirt was the first shirt associated with the Kind Campaign to be sold in mens’ sizes. Celebrities like Sophia Bush, Connie Britton, Nina Dobrev, and Aaron Paul (Who’s married to Lauren) have donned the tee and spread the Kind love on social media. Though the limited-edition shirt is no longer being sold, you can still purchase a sweet “You Can Sit With Us” bracelet bar directly from Kind Campaign’s online store.
Aside from sporting the apparel, there are a couple of ways for vinas to get directly involved with the Kind Campaign. One is through the Kind Ambassador volunteer program, which gives girls and women a way to take programming into local schools and communities and telling them about the Kind Campaign assembly. Ambassadors sometimes even have the opportunity to host a Kind Assembly themselves.
Molly also said that these are great opportunities for women to “take ownership of their local communities, create an impact, and get to have the experience Lauren and I have by watching these beautiful moments take place.”
We’re so thankful that Kind Campaign exists to educate and support girls and women. Their values of acceptance and inclusiveness are VINA values as well and we look forward to seeing how they continue to inspire. Now that’s fetch!
(All images via @kindcampaign)