For the first 16 years of my life, I spent almost all of my time with one type of person: really mean girls.
From my own dear mother to my classmates at school, I found myself being thrown headfirst to the she-wolves at every turn. I was first indoctrinated in to the culture of cruelty at a young age, encountering my first tormenter at the tender age of 2. After being locked in a box by two larger girls, who sat on top, chanting, "You'll never see your parents again," I realized that there were two types of people in the world: the box-sitters and their captives, and that I was, undeniably, a member of latter.
In my strict, all-girls school, the problem continued. In first grade, I was informed I would never be able to perform "I Will Always Love You" like Whitney Houston by a girl who would, many years later, after spending months trying to sleep with my boyfriend, call me a "fat cunt" when I refused to let her come to my mother's apartment on a Wednesday evening to vomit up her Bacardi Breezers.
In second grade, Emily M., a very tall, angry child, would delight daily in pulling me by my ankles off the monkey bars. In third grade, my music teacher called me a "horrible turd," and in fifth, my history teacher told my class we were going to hell for discussing our essay tests with another class.
At home, I would often hear my mother, a magazine editor, vividly characterize her female colleagues with descriptions like, "She has the worst skin I've ever seen on someone who wasn't going through puberty," or, "a body like an apple on toothpicks."
While I wish I could say that I completely eschewed any such behavior, I, too, was guilty of girl-on-girl hate speak for a brief period of my life when I was working out compulsively, watching "Sex and the City" like it was my job, and wearing a handkerchief as a shirt. Needless to say, I had problems, but, much like the scarves I had taken to tying around my then-breastless chest, I grew out of them.
It wasn't until college that I realized I had a choice in whom I could be friends with and who I could deliberately avoid. The girl in my hall who dresses like a fairy on ecstasy and always wants to go on nature walks? Sure, she seems nice enough. The guy who tells me, apropos of nothing, that my dark eyeliner must mean I'm a "nasty girl" and mentions that my short body might prove a snug fit for his Brobdingnagian wang? Not so much.
I could finally say goodbye to women who tried to sit on my boyfriends' laps at parties and men who talked about their sexual conquests' "thunder thighs." But without the social hierarchy, I suddenly felt lost.
For many people with self-esteem problems, there is comfort in the status quo. Knowing whether you're the oppressor or the oppressed has some ass-backward security in it, and once I had banished all the assholes from my life, I realized it was something I strangely craved. So, like the self-hating genius I am, I found another way to get my fix.
Rather than exposing myself to bullies by walking past middle schools in booty shorts or asking celebrities to date me through Internet videos, I turned to one of the few things that never lets me down: TV.
While my life was suddenly lacking the strong, cruel women I had come to hate and admire, my television set overflowed with them. From the countless drink-throwing, weave-pulling incarnations of the Real Housewives to the brides crying over salmon mousse and armpit fat on "Bridezillas," I finally found a way to stay close to the bitches I loved while maintaining a safe distance.
I don't know why I can't escape the warm light of a raging cunt's glare. Something inside me likes rules -- on the road, in bed, when it comes to who gets the last pair of Spanx on Gilt Groupe -- and I'm not ashamed to say that there's something about the indentured servitude I once blindly accepted at the feet of Juicy-clad Upper East Siders that I still want, to some degree.
These days, with my self-esteem slightly less trod on than a decade ago, I want to see the mean girls fail. I want Skinnygirl cocktails gunking up their extensions. I want their former sorority sisters to puke at their handbag launches. I want them to brunch all day in their sundresses in counties named after fruit salad components and keep high school alive ... far, far away from here.